OmniPresence does not like network home directories

Like many companies we use network home directories for our desktop Mac users. This works fine for most properly written applications even somewhat misbehaving ones like Microsoft Office. The less said about Adobe the better.

Unfortunately if you try setting up OmniPresence to a folder within the users network home directory which of course means on a network file server then OmniPresence rejects this because it is not on a local disk.

One of the reasons to use network home directories is to ensure files by being stored on a server are backed up, and another other is to prevent potentially confidential files being left on desktop computers.

As far as I can see this should be perfectly possible for OmniGroup to achieve along the following lines.

  1. User logs in to computer as a network login
  2. Login triggers standard user (not system) launch agent for OmniPresence
  3. Launch agent runs OmniPresence (this assumes user has set OmniPresence to auto start)
  4. OmniPresence syncs between OmniGroup server or webdav server to folder and should support both local and network paths
  5. Obviously if the path is not found an error should be given.

I cannot change the entire company from network home directories just for the benefit of one misbehaving program. A potential workaround but highly undesirable might be to use something like ChronoSync to do a bi-directional sync between the webdav folder and the users network home directory, i.e. to effectively use ChronoSync to replace OmniPresence. This effectively would add a 50% cost overhead to OmniOutliner Pro.

I may have found a work around for this problem.

Obviously one could use a network login (and network home directory) and still tell OmniPresence to use a local folder on the boot hard disk probably in /Users/Shared however this is not desirable as it means it would not be backed up and would preclude hot-desking.

My workaround which works so far is to create a read/write Disk Image file and save that in the users network home directory. Based on past experience with Appleā€™s Installer program I was already aware that it also would not run installer packages from a network volume but would run them from a disk image - even when that disk image is on the same network volume. So disk images clearly can trick programs in to thinking they are local drives.

Indeed this also turned out to be true with OmniPresence, it happily let me create a folder in the disk image to sync against, completed the webdav checks and then did a successful sync against the webdav server showing the resulting files in the folder in the disk image.

The only issue remaining to worry about is how well this copes with reboots and relogins. I have set the users account to open the disk image automatically when they login (in login items) but time will tell if this is reliable.