Manage Photos from Multiple digiKam Installations

Storing your photos on a server or network disk? Want to manage them from several Linux-based machines using digiKam? Here is how to do that.

First of all, you need to mount the directory on the server containing the photos on your machine. Assuming your server is running Linux and you can connect to it via SSH, you can mount the remote directory using sshfs. To do this, you need to install the sshfs package first. On Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux distributions, you can do this by executing the apt-get install sshfs command as root. Next, run the id command and note the uid and gid values for your account (e.g., uid=1000 gid=1000). Use then the following command to mount a server directory on your machine:

sshfs user@host:/path/to/dir /mountpoint -o idmap=user -o uid=1000 -o gid=1000

Replace user with the name of the existing user on the server and host with the IP address of the server. Replace /path/to/dir with the path to the directory on the server and /mountpoint with the directory on your machine that will be used as a mount point. Once the directory has been mounted, you can use the files in it as they were on your own machine. To unmount the directory, use the fusermount command as follows:

fusermount -u /mountpoint

Next, you have to configure digiKam to use a MySQL database as its back-end. This would require, of course, a MySQL installation running either on your own server or on another remote machine. The Use digiKam with MySQL article provides detailed instructions on how to make digiKam work with MySQL.

The rest is easy. In digiKam, choose Settings » Configure digiKam and switch to the Collections section. Press the Add Collection button next to the Local Collections entry, then add the folder that contains the photos from the mounted remote directory as a new album.

In a similar manner, you can configure digiKam on any other machine you want to use to manage photos stored on the server.

Tech writer covering Linux and open source software

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Posted in Photography, Software, Open Source
12 comments on “Manage Photos from Multiple digiKam Installations
  1. mutlu says:

    This is awesome! That you for explaining it in such an easy and concise manner.

  2. Marktrigeek says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Have all my pics on a nas and my wife wants to edit/org them from any machine in the house.

    thanks again.

  3. Me says:

    How do you do this if one of the computers is running Windows ?

    And what version of Digikam are you referring to ? The “Latest Beta on Ubuntu 10.10” is a bit vague for those of us not running Ubuntu.

    • Wolf B. says:

      I tried to use digikam with MySQL on a NAS, a Mac and a Windows PC. The Problem is the difference in the “Mountpoint” respectively the access to the file system. The location of the pictures is stored differently for both systems so this doesn’t work.
      What I did (and what is a bad workaround but it works) is to install Virtual Box and ArchLinux with KDE on both machines and then use auto login and auto startup of digikam. I’ve choosen Arch Linux since it is a fairly lightweight distribution compared to Kubuntu.

  4. oiaohm says:

    Ok any plans for owncloud integration. Really to me common storage should have common indexing preferably simple to use. And that to me really suggests a server side implementation of the storage.

    Current method is messy. User has to mount a drive and if using a shared index point the the correct index.

    Better is if user can enter url in digikam of common storage interface and it works. Hopefully program neutral.

  5. arkinauta says:

    Many thanks!
    I was also looking a way of doing this.

  6. Jonas says:

    Should the collection not be a collection on a network share instead of a local collection?
    Do the mount points need to be the same on all machines?

  7. phaedrus77 says:

    why not simply use nfs? there shouldn’t be the need to jump through hoops like that. besides being already available i’d say nfs is a lot faster too…

  8. Jay says:

    I’ve been using a NFS mount with a symbolic link to it from the user’s home directory, and storing tags within the pictures.. I’ve been doing it for a couple years, and it works pretty well with just a couple of users, but hopefully this will be a little cleaner…

  9. Eric says:

    Is there any locking mechanism to prevent multiple simultaneous users from stepping on each other?

  10. Romano says:

    What I do not know if it’s possible to do, is having this working off-line.

    I have three machines: the office PC (powerful), the home PC (normal), and a little laptop. I have all the photos duplicated on the three machines, and kept in sync with the Unison utility.

    What I would like is that I can edit, assign stars, etc to all these photos in one of the three computers, maybe offline, and then sync all the data; and when opening digiKam on another machine, have all the editing there.

    This means that the metadata/databas should be kept with the albums, and sync’ed together with all the photo, and accepted by the other digiKam session. Calibre, for example, works this way – just sync the database files and all is well.

    I know that this workflow has its problems: if I forgot to sync before starting to work, I have conflict etc, but it’s a minor issue.

    Is this possible in digiKam? The main problem I see is the fact that you have to be online to connect to the MySql database…

  11. Fred says:

    Thanks for writing this…came across it when searching to see if multi-user digikam was possible. I tried using samba instead of sshfs (thinking that the lack of encryption would consume less cpu/network resources) and so far everything is working well.

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