At the HSR (University of Applied Science Rapperswil) we are currently developing a software to synchronize files from the central fileserver to the students computers. This should help the students to get the latest slides for their lectures.

The software is based on VFS (Virtual Filesystem) from the Apache Commons project. The file server is a classic Samba server that uses the CIFS protocol, and with the use of VFS we ensured a common access the the filesystem, no matter if it’s the remote filesystem of the file server or the local filesystem on the student’s computers.

At a point we got a very strange error: we could copy files from the remote system, but when we delete the files while the application is running, and try to copy the files again, the copy fails:

FileSystemException "could not copy [source-path] to [target-path]".

We figured out, that the problem were the folders that don’t exist yet. But according the the documentation of the the copyFrom method the parent folder should be created if it does not exist. This is also the case when we do the first-time-copy, which works like a charm.

After serveral tries with refresh() etc. to bring the FileObjects and the actual filesystem to sync, we finally implemented this workaround, maybe somebody else can use it:

protected void copyFile(FileObject targetFile, FileObject sourceFile) {
    try {
        FileObject parentFile = targetFile.getParent();
        log.debug("Parent exists?: " + parentFile.exists());

        if (!parentFile.exists()) {
            log.debug(" => Folder created");
        targetFile.copyFrom(sourceFile),new AllFileSelector());
    } catch (FileSystemException e) {
        log.warn("Could not copy file, FileSystemException: "
                + e.getMessage());

(the above code is a little bit simplified, and the use of an extra FileObject for the parent is not absolutely necessary, but it clarifies the code)

In my opinion the copyFrom implementation of JCFIS (which is the Samba part of VFS) does not work, i.e. this is a bug. But I’m not sure, maybe we overlook an obvious thing on our side. Fact is, the above solution works for us. The JCIFS is part of the VFS sandbox, this means the library is still in development. Maybe I’ll file a bug, if I can clearly reproduce this behavior.

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