So the hard drive on one of my Symform devices died. It was a laptop running Windows Vista, which is one of those undying-one-time-hack situations. No point to rebuild it so I swapped in a hard drive, which already had Ubuntu 10.04 on it (don't remember when I did that). After some minor reconfig I got it work properly and installed the Symform client. The Web interface was pretty convenient - much better than the desktop app on Windows. However even with port forwarding configured I still don't see a heartbeat from https://control.symform.com. Here's where the UI starts to fall short: I really don't have a way to further troubleshoot it. I had to drop into command and start going through the community forum. Not really complaining about this when working on Linux, but if you have a GUI, why not put some quick indicators and info for troubleshooting?
Anyhow I eventually noticed the contribution service isn't staying on (/opt/symform/SymformNode.sh status). A check through the exception stack in the log (/var/log/symformcontrib.log) made it clear that the process couldn't really access the contribution folder. I had no problem selecting it from the UI, but the folder is on an USB drive that was used by the old Windows machine. As auto-mounted the NTFS volume had no permission for the symform UID, which runs the needed process. I remounted the volume with umask=0 and it started to work.