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posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:45AM   Printer-friendly

digitalderbs writes:

"A perennial problem facing computer users is how to keep documents, pictures, music and other personal files synchronized between computers. Robust uni-directional solutions, like rsync, and bi-directional solutions, like unison, have existed for a long time. However, these tools require some degree of manual intervention on a periodic basis. Simplified tools like Dropbox and bittorrent sync have emerged as popular, useful and automated alternatives, but these rely on closed-source software, which could be subject to backdooring. Open source solutions, like OwnCloud, are gaining traction, but are these open source platform robust and easy enough to maintain for routine and daily use? Moreover, distributed and encrypted file systems, like Ceph, are increasingly easy to use, but many of these do not work between Linux and OS X or Windows operating systems. What are your experiences and thoughts?"

Related Stories

A Series on How Rsync Works 5 comments

FOSS developer Michael Stapelberg has started a four part blog post on Rsync and how it works. He wrote the i3 tiling window manager, among other projects, and is a former Debian developer. Now he has written about three scenarios for which he has come to appreciate Rsync, specifically in DokuWiki transfers, software deployment, and backups. Then he looks at at integrating it into various work flows, and then at what the software and protocol actually do. The fourth section is to be announced.

Rsync is an algorithm and a utilty, both initially developed by Andrew Tridgell as part of his PhD dissertation work, and by Paul Mackerras. It is used for updating files on one machine so that they become identical to a file on another machine while at the same time transferring the minimal amount of data to effect the update, saving on time and bandwidth. Rsync is the underlying component in a great many backup utilities and routines. With the right settings it can even do incremental backups. Andrew is also well-known for having worked on Samba, and won in the EU against M$ in order to get the required interoperability specifications needed to share files using CIFS/SMB.

Previously:
(2014) Ask Soylent: Suggestions for Remote Backup
(2014) How Do You Sync Your Home Directory?


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  • (Score: 2) by Hell_Rok on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:57AM

    by Hell_Rok (2527) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:57AM (#20657) Homepage

    Honestly, I just use Dropbox for simplicity. Just make sure not to put anything sensitive in there and you're fine.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by The Mighty Buzzard on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:05AM

      by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:05AM (#20662) Homepage Journal
      Right, taking my bitcoin wallet out then.
      --
      My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Tork on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:27AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:27AM (#20671)

      Count me in as a DropBox user. To be honest the whole "but it's backdoored!" argument isn't all that compelling to me. I've been wandering around the internet since the mid-nineties and one of the earliest things I discovered is that keeping information on a net-connected computer always means there's a risk of that information getting out. Heck, one time I went to a computer store with a floppy and copied a game off one of the demo machines. If I can do that, why couldn't a friend visiting my house do the same thing? I don't have anything particularly sensitive on my computer to begin with, let alone on my DropBox account.

      With that said, I actually do encrypt my drives. That may seem contradictory but, really, just because I'm not worried about it getting out doesn't mean I want the world to have it, either. So you'd think SpiderOak would be more up my alley, right? Well, no. At least not when I used it. It's cheaper and the encryption is done on my end, as opposed to at the server end, meaning there's no practical way anybody over at SpiderOak HQ is going to get at my files like they can at DropBox. But in the process of doing all that, they over designed it. With DropBox, if I install it on one machine, it syncs them all at the same time. With SpiderOak I actually had to set up a bunch of rules about who syncs with who about what. It didn't take long before my interest in SpiderOak died. DropBox made it dirt simple: Put files in this folder, they'll automagically get replicated on every other machine on this account.

      So, is it the most secure? No. But I am doing something that is very smart: I'm doing off-site backups. When I write a script, for example, every time I hit save it's also copied to DropBox's server. My hard drive could suddenly die and I'd still have my file! DB most certainly got that right. In addition to that, the smartphone app for it works pretty well. When I take photos they automatically appear on the desktops I have using that account. The opposite of that is true, too, stuff I put on my desktop is now available on my smartphone. On a couple of occasions I've left an experiment running where the information was being written to DropBox and I was able to monitor it from my phone.

      I am easily a satisfied customer. But boy do I wish they would set up client-side encryption. Just because I'm okay with my own stuff on DB doesn't mean any employer of mine would like it.

      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Bartman12345 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:52AM

        by Bartman12345 (1317) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:52AM (#20869)

        I am a long-time Spideroak user, and I know what you mean about the intimidating level of complexity. However, this problem has been addressed with the introduction of the "Hive" functionality (works just like your Dropbox folder). This has made Spideroak "Dropbox Simple" to use, while still retaining the old sync methods for those who want or need them.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:25AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:25AM (#20737)

      Beyond Compare and a thumb drive.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
    • (Score: 2, Informative) by computersareevil on Tuesday March 25 2014, @04:16PM

      by computersareevil (749) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @04:16PM (#21027)

      Client-side encryption.
      Multi-computer sync.
      Backups.
      Time-Machine-like versioning.

      Full stop.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by DeKO on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:03AM

    by DeKO (3672) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:03AM (#20660)

    I personally use Synology's Diskstation NAS, which has the Cloud Station service. It also has Cloud Sync, which can sync with the most popular online storage services.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:15AM (#20692)

      I don't cloud sync, but I'll second the Synology Diskstation. Really great consumer NAS with a both user friendly and powerful user interface and a good library of addins.

  • (Score: 1) by zip on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:10AM

    by zip (702) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:10AM (#20667)

    Assuming you can manage to mount your /home on owncloud with webdav, that would probably be the easiest method (in terms of maintenance). I have not tried this, so YMMV.

    • (Score: 1) by jon3k on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:44AM

      by jon3k (3718) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:44AM (#20676)

      You could configure it to sync your home directory. Just point the ownCloud client at your home directory.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by spxero on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:20AM

      by spxero (3061) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:20AM (#20832)

      I have an OwnCloud site setup and while it's easy from an admin side and really full featured, the sync client is the pits. I find it tends to keep my machine from running at power saving CPU levels and is constantly syncing. I almost have to pause the thing on a regular basis and then force a manual re-sync, which is hit and miss. I use it mostly as a backup of my Dropbox directory, so anything going to Dropbox is technically going to OwnCloud as well, but I never have these problems with the Dropbox sync client. Now it is free, and I was able to share files with friends extremely easily once I created them an account on my server, but the client? Crap.

      You can *kind* of use WebDAV for syncing, but be warned- with the defaults of how OwnCloud keeps deleted files, if you don't clear those out regularly your WebDAV sync will error out even though you're only using a fraction of your allotted storage space. IIRC it would give me the PHP white screen of death until I went in and manually deleted the files and then changed the keep deleted files option to either never or just a day.

      I also try to use SeaFile for a similar purpose, and its client is worlds better than OwnCloud. I have still been unable to access the SeaFile server through a reverse proxy due to the multiple ports used for media transfers and the like, but for internal syncing it's awesome. The file management of SeaFile seems to work better too, as I can move folders from an "Active" to "Inactive" and it clears them off of my devices and vice-versa. If only I could get it working through a reverse proxy...!

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by rufty on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:12AM

    by rufty (381) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:12AM (#20668)

    I use ownCloud for contacts and calendar and a few files. When I need to sync, usually my work folder to a USB key to go somewhere, then unison.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by cbiltcliffe on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:46AM

    by cbiltcliffe (1659) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:46AM (#20679)

    I have different computers for different purposes; the stuff I have on my desktop I usually don't need on my laptop, and vice versa. For things that I do need on both.....well...that's what file servers are for. I have a VPN, so I can access that file server from outside my home, also, as long as I have internet access wherever I happen to be.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by GeminiDomino on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:50AM

    by GeminiDomino (661) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @01:50AM (#20682)

    I've got a Dropbox for things like bookmarks, patches, and the like that I'll probably want to shuttle from desktop to laptop to office, and the occasional shared file. For the actual things I want to share and keep reasonably safe (data for work, e.g.), I use SpiderOak instead. A bit less simple, much more secure, and a lot more flexible (you tell it what folders you want to sync, rather than it telling you that everything you sync needs to be under one folder).

    I started playing with OwnCloud, but then disaster struck and the test machine I was using went casters-up, so never got very far with that.

    --
    "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Nerdfest on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:53AM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:53AM (#20713)

      SpiderOak is fantastic, and I wish they'd get more press, as they seem to do security right.

      That said, using encfs with a DropBox subdirectory works quite nicely too for those with a little skill. Perhaps that's the problem SpiderOak has run into. Those that appreciate how good they are can do the same sort of approach themselves. An unfortunate situation to be in. Maybe they should be creating a simplified user interface and pushing it at those people reading of the latest NSA escapades that don't have the skill to solve their problems themselves.

      • (Score: 1) by GeminiDomino on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:39PM

        by GeminiDomino (661) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:39PM (#21111)

        Yeah, you can use EncFS or just store truecrypt volumes in a Dropbox, but SpiderOak does better at that and more. You can have disparate directory trees in the same backup set, they've introduced the "Hive" (which I turn off, but which is basically the dropbox model) to overcome some of the extra complexity it had compared to DropBox, and they've got the file "monitor" which can make sure files are automatically synced (OwnCloud's clients weren't quite up to snuff back when I was playing with it, I don't know where they're at now).

        The only reason I even have a DropBox account anymore is because SO doesn't do Android (part of SOs reduced popularity, IMO). They also don't market themselves as indiscriminately or aggressively as Dropbox, like the "free space for referrals" social-networky stuff.

        --
        "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
        • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:46PM

          by Nerdfest (80) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:46PM (#21180)

          SpiderOak has an Android client.

          • (Score: 1) by GeminiDomino on Wednesday March 26 2014, @12:45PM

            by GeminiDomino (661) on Wednesday March 26 2014, @12:45PM (#21453)

            Does it now? Sweet!

            That definitely deserves a +1 Informative, so please accept it in spirit.

            --
            "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Lagg on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:10AM

    by Lagg (105) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:10AM (#20690) Homepage Journal
    That's all I have to say when it comes to these "recommend me a backup solution" questions. Client side encryption, decent and ever-improving client (which they are working on releasing the code to) and complete privacy. This is the only "cloud" service I trust with things such as private keys. Not that I need to trust them since again: client side encryption and keys. Easy to use with a cron job too or you can just run its file watcher daemon. Runs well on both desktop and server systems. It has both a one-off backup and sync feature similar to the flow you'd use with rsync

    Disclaimer: They gave me 50GB because they liked my testimonial enough to put it on their site. I'm otherwise unaffiliated.
    --
    http://lagg.me [lagg.me] 🗿
    • (Score: 2, Funny) by aristarchus on Tuesday March 25 2014, @04:37AM

      by aristarchus (2645) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @04:37AM (#20791) Journal

      client side encryption, twice. I always use ROT 26 the first time, just to throw the bastards off. And then I change all the extensions, like .vxl to .xvl.
      And finally, I make sure that I have nothing worth decrypting, so if the Basterds succeed, they are left with my grocery list circa 1998. I recommend Umberto Eco's novel "Foucault's Pendulum", to any seeking the meaning of the obscure encryption reference. Or Cryptonomicon, but Neal is not nearly so good a writer.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mojo chan on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:40AM

      by mojo chan (266) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @08:40AM (#20865)

      SpiderOak is okay if you only have a small amount of data, but if you have lots the cost very quickly ramps up. In that sense it isn't really a backup solution, it is a cloud storage solution for you to keep your working files on. For backup you want something that offers a lot more space, ideally unlimited.

      BackBlaze, LiveDrive Backup and many more offer this. I also found Backup Lizard... Sounds iffy but they charge only $3/month for unlimited storage and claim to encrypt.

      --
      const int one = 65536; (Silvermoon, Texture.cs)
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:44PM (#21006)

        a lot more space

        I've not used SpiderOak, but their business plans claim unlimited storage for no price increase (seems to be based on number of users, not storage). They also say unlimited historical versions, which I find doubtful. That means I can request my data from Sep 14, 2007 at 11:53 am 20 years from now and they won't blink an eye??

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by chloride on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:05PM

      by chloride (3341) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:05PM (#20912)

      I'll admit to being a little confused whenever a vendor is described as "offering client-side encryption". If it's client-side, why is it "offered"? I've had some interest in online backup services, and would never consider one without encryption. But I'd never consider one where any part of the encryption process was provided by the vendor. It's not enough that "I have the keys", if any moving part of the encryption process is provided by the vendor it's a no-go for me. SpiderOak appears to fail that metric.

      I'm using encryption on all my data at home, but don't claim to be an encryption expert. I lack the maths to verify any particular algorithm, so I go with what appears to be the community consensus. My local storage is all heavily encrypted (geli/AES-128, plus whatever Linux uses for home directory and whole disk encryption). If I were to sync remotely, I'd encrypt each file individually (probably openssl[1]), and the remote service would only ever see a stream of those encrypted blobs. My encrypted blobs.

      [1] Just because I've used it before. Open to other commonly-used OSS suggestions, particularly ones which would be less of a headache when decided which files needed re-syncing.

    • (Score: 1) by digitalderbs on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:21PM

      by digitalderbs (1314) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:21PM (#20916)

      Thanks for the note. I very much like SpiderOak's approach (even though they're closed source). However, I had to drop them because their backup archive of my data became corrupt. I was not too impressed with their customer service at the time because they didn't catch the corruption and because I asked for a refund, and they took about 3 months to credit me.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by kebes on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:16AM

    by kebes (1505) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:16AM (#20695)
    I have some rsync scripts that run via cron jobs (on all the computers I care about). It's based on tutorials like this one [mikerubel.org] or this script [faqs.org]. With a few simple commands, you can set it up to do incremental backups (without wasting space with duplicate backups for files that don't change); and you can have multiple backups (local and remote). The basic backup protects you against catastrophic disk deaths, and the incremental aspect gives you a bit of protection against things like accidental deletion. Everything is available via SSH/SFTP. And everything is under my control (purely living on computers I manage).

    Now, doing it with hand-coded bash scripts is admittedly a bit arcane and even brittle. I must admit that I have to periodically check that everything is still working correctly. I have to keep in mind where my files are stored. And it's not realtime syncing (you can make the backups as frequent as you want, but it's not syncing on every file change). On the other hand, backup is sufficiently important that you should be checking on it regularly in any case. And I like using low-level commands and scripts that I am in full control of: again, backup is sufficiently important that I like being able to know exactly what's going on. And SSH/SFTP access to files just seems like the most universal (while still being secure).

    I do long for a more transparent and realtime solution, where my files would be automagically synced and up-to-date, across devices, always available, from anywhere. I've heard about cool versioning file systems (and ideas like using version control systems for your entire home directory, not just source code), but they've never seemed robust and universal enough that I could use them across all my computers, while still having as easy access to my files when sitting down at a totally new computer.

    In short, I would love to learn about some elegant and powerful solutions. But until then, rsync+ssh+cron are a remarkably powerful and versatile solution for me.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by goodie on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:18AM

    by goodie (1877) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:18AM (#20697) Journal

    I will describe my setup as it may be slightly different from other people's due to different obejctives. I used to have a freebsd box with a 1TB mirror using geom about 3 years ago. My windows pc connected to it via a samba share for my personal docs. My main issue was that i did not keep old versions of docs and being an ex developer, i was used to working with code repositories. Then i bought a second cheap laptop for travel/teaching etc. i soon started to have problems remembering where i modified what etc. along with sync issues with tools such as robocopy for syncing between the win and bsd machines etc.

    In the end, i bought a few hardware pieces, built a new bsd box running a mirror using zfs thanks to the new kernel and while i still have samba for music etc. my docs are on a git repo. I know, i know, it is not very good for merging excel, word etc files. But i find it a lot faster than smb for syncing and a lot more in line with my habits. In the morning, i do a pull from the repo and when i am done i do a push, much like i did back when i coded all the time. I also like the idea that at all times i have at least 3 machines which are almost if not all up to date :)

    It has been a learning curve but i did want to learn it. I have a dropbox too but i only use it to upload slides before i go teach and to share stuff with students. My personal docs are not accessible remotely and to me that is perfect that way. As an added bonus i reconverted the old bsd box as a backup server running rsync to pull from the new bsd server :).

    I did not know about unison though, it may have been useful back when i did my research!

    • (Score: 1) by cubancigar11 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:30AM

      by cubancigar11 (330) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @06:30AM (#20835) Homepage Journal

      I have created a git repository in my home directory and uploaded to github. It doesn't store my personal files - I need those when I dual boot into Windows, so I store them in Dropbox (and 3 different usb hard disks - I have been burned once). But the dotrc files are all in github. There are different branches for office laptop, home desktop, cygwin etc. Since I am in habit of trying out different distros, this setup is pretty much perfect for me :)

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by ls671 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:44AM

    by ls671 (891) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:44AM (#20703) Homepage

    I just use rsync to computers that I or friends of mine control. Back up my stuff, I will back up yours.

    No manual intervention is needed, just use a cron job to automatically do it.

    --
    Everything I write is lies, including this sentence.
  • (Score: 1) by creidiki on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:52AM

    by creidiki (3955) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @02:52AM (#20712)

    I've used Dropbox for quite a while but recently switched to this for a lot of stuff... I can stuff everything important into a git repo and either one will automatically update them on a regular basis, makes it easy to commit/update files, etc. I don't have Ruby everywhere I operate but I always have bash so Homeshick is an option anywhere.

    https://github.com/technicalpickles/homesick [github.com]
    https://github.com/andsens/homeshick [github.com]

    • (Score: 2) by gottabeme on Monday May 19 2014, @01:02AM

      by gottabeme (1531) on Monday May 19 2014, @01:02AM (#45054)

      That looks pretty nice. The thing is, I already have a homedir repo for dotfiles and stuff. Is there an easy way to integrate homesick with it? I don't want to throw away my git history. And the homesick wiki doesn't seem to mention this scenario.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Sir Finkus on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:04AM

    by Sir Finkus (192) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:04AM (#20721) Journal

    I typically use bittorrent sync for folders I want to be continuously in sync, and rsync for cases where that doesn't matter as much. Bittorrent sync is nice because I don't need to worry about forwarding ports and stuff.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by el_oscuro on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:17AM

    by el_oscuro (1711) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:17AM (#20726)

    Back in Time [ubuntugeek.com] is just a GUI interface to rsync, symbolic links and cron jobs. Directories on you backup device are named according to the date the backup was taken and unchanged files are just symbolic links to the older copy on the backup drive.

    The best thing is, you don't need any special tool to restore. Just copy the files back to your hard drive as you would any other program. If your backup drive is mountable, everything on it can be restored with normal copy commands.

    --
    SoylentNews is Bacon! [nueskes.com]
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by zeigerpuppy on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:18AM

    by zeigerpuppy (1298) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:18AM (#20728)

    I have tried a variety of self-hosted solutions. In the end, git over ssh ended up being the best for my needs, version management is really useful. It's pretty easy too, when I finish a session I push it to the server and then pull it when I start a session on a different machine. Git warns you if you do anything inconsistent.
    For system files, rsnapshot and rdiff-backup are also useful.

    Dropbox is too insecure in my opinion but if you do feel obliged to use it, then encryptfs is your friend.

  • (Score: 1) by Lukehasnoname on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:27AM

    by Lukehasnoname (3303) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:27AM (#20738) Homepage

    I run Owncloud at home, and its backup/restore documentation is a turd of a turd... so be ready to learn how to do it yourself if yo uwant HA or need to upgrade / migrate. Since I only use it to instantly upload to my phone, manage a calendar, and occasionally share a picture with someone, it's not really a backup for me than a self-hosted Imgur.

    Real backup solution: Rsync/robocopy to a backup drive.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by twistedcubic on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:59AM

    by twistedcubic (929) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:59AM (#20767)

    One advantage to user-initiated syncing is that there are no surprises. If a disk is corrupt and files disappear, they are not silently removed from all the other replicas. Unison catches these unintended changes, and more. I would never trust an automatic backup system for important stuff.

    • (Score: 2) by gottabeme on Monday May 19 2014, @01:07AM

      by gottabeme (1531) on Monday May 19 2014, @01:07AM (#45055)

      Maybe you're conflating backup systems with sync systems--they are not the same thing. A backup system keeps file history, including deleted files. A sync system simply syncs all changes.

      Of course, some tools blur the distinction, like Dropbox, which keeps some file history (30 days on free accounts). And many backup systems allow pruning of old data, which could wipe out copies of deleted files, but lets you save disk space.

      Anyway, the point is that you should absolutely have automatic backup systems for important stuff. If it's not automatic, it's not a serious backup system.

  • (Score: 1) by lajos on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:18AM

    by lajos (528) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:18AM (#20810)

    Gitolite server behind ssh on a cheap Atom PC. Consumes less power than your phone charger.

    As a bonus, you can even revert to older versions of your documents.

     

    • (Score: 2) by hankwang on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:52AM

      by hankwang (100) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:52AM (#20854) Homepage

      "cheap Atom PC. Consumes less power than your phone charger"

      Where can you get a sub-2.5 W Atom PC? I looked into mini-ITX computers a few weeks ago, but it seems that 12 W is more typical, and that is with any hard disks spun down.

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:18PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:18PM (#20915)

        A minnowboard?

        Its false economy anyway unless you're doing something mobile or solar powered, because a watt for a year outta the wall is about a buck. So a minnowboard costing $200 might be able to host twice as many services as a RPi costing $50, but it would be cheaper to buy two RPi and save the environment $100 worth of manufacturing damage.

        The minnowboard current draw varies highly with use. So if your problem is a weird lithium battery that only peaks out at 1 amp, you're in big trouble even if it only averages 2 watts or whatever because the peak current spikes although momentary are like 3 amps. On the other hand a 3 amp-hour battery is going to run it a heck of a lot longer than an hour unless you're mining bitcoins the whole time or whatever. Also as you would suspect you can stick things onto it that draw plenty of power if you want. An external blueray burner for example, two watts isn't going to cut it for something like that.

        I don't have a minnow board, although I did spec it out before buying a couple RPi for various purposes.

        • (Score: 2) by hankwang on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:06PM

          by hankwang (100) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @05:06PM (#21059) Homepage

          The Minnowboard website does not give a lot of details, but googling "minnowboard idle power" tells me it uses 9 W when idle, 4x what a typical phone charger uses, and barely less than other mini-ITX Atom systems. Read back what you stated originally...

          FYI, where I live, a watt year costs EUR 2, i.e. USD 2.80. That changes the economy a bit if I consider the impact of 10 watts more or less over a few years, for a server in a closet.

          • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:58PM

            by egcagrac0 (2705) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @07:58PM (#21160)

            where I live, a watt year costs EUR 2, i.e. USD 2.80. That changes the economy a bit if I consider the impact of 10 watts more or less over a few years

            I know that times are hard, and that saving every little bit helps...

            But really? 20 euros a year? That's not even a cup of coffee a week to provide power to backup your files.

            You're going to spend more than that spinning the disks, anyway. (Hard drives idle around what... 4-5 watts?)

            On the upside, if you keep your socks in the closet on top of the micro-server, your feet will be warm in the morning. That ought to be worth the 6 cents a day.

            • (Score: 2) by hankwang on Tuesday March 25 2014, @11:32PM

              by hankwang (100) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @11:32PM (#21237) Homepage

              It's all those little things that add up. I did go around my house with a power meter (in the US they call it Kill-a-Watt, I think) and the it seems that most is from a lot of times "just a few watts".

              I already have a VIA-based server, that runs the OS from flash storage and stores data on a HDD that is not spinning most of the time. (this configuration was after endless unsuccessful tweaking to prevent syslog/samba/etc. from modifying files on a HDD-based OS every few minutes).

              It uses 13 W, which bugs me, but not quite enough to shut it down. I was curious to hear how you could run an Atom server at less than 2.5 watts.

              I considered an ARM-based system, but I foresaw to much duct tape to get Gbit ethernet and the ability to drive a HDD over USB. Also, ARM seems to be a bit too slow to handle large file transfers over ssh.

              • (Score: 2) by egcagrac0 on Wednesday March 26 2014, @01:46PM

                by egcagrac0 (2705) on Wednesday March 26 2014, @01:46PM (#21490)

                Fair points.

                I don't think you should "upgrade" to lower power consumption until closer to the end-of-life of your current system, however - you'll likely spend more on new hardware than you'll save in energy over the projected lifespan.

              • (Score: 2) by gottabeme on Monday May 19 2014, @01:19AM

                by gottabeme (1531) on Monday May 19 2014, @01:19AM (#45059)

                > (this configuration was after endless unsuccessful tweaking to prevent syslog/samba/etc. from modifying files on a HDD-based OS every few minutes).

                Did you try putting /var/log on a separate partition and setting the writeback time to a high value?

                • (Score: 1) by hankwang on Monday May 19 2014, @09:39PM

                  by hankwang (100) on Monday May 19 2014, @09:39PM (#45386) Homepage

                  "Did you try putting /var/log on a separate partition and setting the writeback time to a high value?"

                  No, but /var/log wasn't the problem. Maybe I should have put the entire /var on a partition with different mount options. I retired this machine, so I'll never know...

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @09:39AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25 2014, @09:39AM (#20882)

    I'm using git for software projects where lots of branching and merging is going on, but for the more static files such as my administration, datasheet libraries and such I like using Subversion. I don't use the branching or tagging features of it, so it's kind of comparable to Apple time machine this way. The repositories live on my home server and get backed up every week. On windows, Tortoise SVN integrates well with explorer, too. And it's command line is much more sane than that of git (which seems to have evolved from the need to manipulate an object database directly).

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bradley13 on Tuesday March 25 2014, @09:54AM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @09:54AM (#20887) Homepage Journal

    Dropbox is by far the most convenient solution out there: it just works, and is available for Windows/Mac/Linux. It passes the "grandmother test", i.e., even your grandmother could use it.

    For security, I've recently starting using Encfs with Dropbox. You can decide whether you want to encrypt only part, or all of your files - just put the stuff you want to encrypt in a subdirectory (say ".encrypted"), and mount this with encfs. However, this definitely doesn't pass the "grandmother test". Anyhow, here are two good links [howtogeek.com] about the setup [webupd8.org].

    Actually, encryption in general is a problem: it's fine for techies, but Joe Sixpack will forget his password, and will not understand why the local computer shop can't recover his pr0n.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:23PM

    by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:23PM (#20918)

    what no love for openafs? I found it pretty easy to install and mostly painless to admin.

    In fact I found it simpler to set up afs than to set up its requirements of kerberos and ldap at home.

    I wish the ipv6 support was rolled out. Its a little clunky that way.

  • (Score: 1) by AdvancedBASIC on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:59PM

    by AdvancedBASIC (551) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @03:59PM (#21020)

    Could do with a bit of polish though.

  • (Score: 1) by emallson on Tuesday March 25 2014, @10:47PM

    by emallson (3596) <{emallson} {at} {archlinux.us}> on Tuesday March 25 2014, @10:47PM (#21225)

    I'm mostly interested in keeping my configuration files in sync between my laptop and desktop. Most everything else I'm interested in is in some form of DVCS.

    I wrote about my dotfile-syncing setup on my blog [atlanis.net].