Features/Fixing Collab (Tubes)

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Fixing Collaboration (Tubes)


Collaboration (hereon called collab) is build upon a framework called telepathy. Many years ago, the Telepathy Tubes (one type of channel) was deprecated. They have now been removed from telepathy (Fedora 22+) and therefore sugar collab does not work on newer systems.

This feature is to migrate to a new method, as well as moving the boilerplate code that activities use to do collab into an abstraction for easy porting.


Sugar uses telepathy to do collab. Lets look a how telepathy works from my understanding:

  • Accounts (eg. jabber server, salut local network link)
  • Connections - when you connect to a buddy over an account
  • Channels - using a connection, you can make a channel to send data to a buddy

Let's look at some of the types of channels:

  • Text - you can send text. Used for IM applications, but realistically can be used to transfer any text data. Chat activity uses this
  • FileTransfer - a buddy can offer to send another buddy a file, which can be backed by anything (eg. can be send from memory to memory)
  • DBusTube - a shared dbus thing
  • StreamTube - shared socket thing
  • Tubes - DEPRECATED. Many sugar activities use this. It is like a whole connection due to the fact that you can negotiate other tubes over your Tubes channel. For design reasons, it got replaces by DBusTUbe and StreamTube channels.


  1. Sugar toolkit negotiates channels for the activity. It gives them a text and tubes channel. This is where the error happens, and must be changed to only give the activity a text channel. See https://github.com/sugarlabs/sugar-toolkit-gtk3/pull/270
  2. Activities that depend on tubes now don't work. Hypothetically, they could be ported to use DBusTube and StreamTube channels. However, that is very hard and generally a massive pain, given that most activities have about 150 lines of slightly varying boilerplate tube negotiation. This can be replaced with a high level abstraction, so that the activity only deals with what data to send, rather than how to send that data. See https://github.com/sugarlabs/sugar-toolkit-gtk3/pull/272
  3. However, some activities need to send large blobs to single buddies (eg. a new buddy joins read, needs a copy of the file). This is not suited to a json encoded message. However, we can use FileTransfer tubes (see the patch above). However, the shell currently claims all file transfers, so we need to have a special identifier for the shell to know to disregard these, see https://github.com/sugarlabs/sugar/pull/621
  4. All activities (other than Chat) need to be ported to the collab wrapper
  5. To maintain backwards compatability for activities, they can use a polyfill version of the CollabWrapper, see https://github.com/walterbender/physics/pull/10

Benefit to Sugar

For users, they get working collab on newer platforms.

For developers, they get a high level api that makes it easy to add collab to their activities. They no longer need to add 150 lines of confusing tube negotiation boilerplate or reinvent a message passing system.

UI Design


How to test

Run activities. Share them between computers with the patch, and old (fedora 18) XOs. See them working together.

This is TODO.



Contingency Plan

Collab will be broken again.

Release Notes

Sugar now sports a brand new collaboration engine that makes collaboration work in new and exciting places. Developers can now use the new CollabWrapper API to enable collaboration in their activities with ease.