Sunday, March 13, 2011

And Now, for Something Completely Different

Recently, my little world of FOSS has been like a peaceful valley, surrounded by thunderstorms. As I sit in my recliner, watching the lightning strike, and hearing the booms which always follow, I am wondering how we all will weather this.

All the kindly, smart people I encounter in IRC, on blogs, forums, lists, wikis; all are people who believe in the power of giving to the world; sharing knowledge and work, music and programming, art and packaging. And yet there is infighting again. I've read the major posts which have become the flash points, and many of the thunderous responses. Canonical vs. Gnome, or Gnome vs. KDE, and on and on.

Finally, a bit of sunlight in the west: Allison Randal's reasonable and thorough discussion of the entire matter. As a bonus, she titles it after one of my favorite songs from the 60's: With A Little Help From My Friends.

Listen: As a world-wide multi-project FLOSS community, we are a diverse collection of cultures, customs, and governance structures, and some things that seem strange to an outsider or a member of a different subgroup make perfect sense when you look more deeply.

Please read her post, and think deeply about the structures she describes, and about how WE (no matter which WE you are a part of) are seen by "outsiders." When we meet in un-logged IRC channels, how will new contributors find out about the decision-making process, or the background of standards, directions, and other important factors of our products? And what IS our product? Software, or a community which works together to make software?

Rather than pointing fingers, I hope each one of my readers will look inside, and think about how each of own conduct is building up or tearing down our community. Please, let us choose our words and actions wisely, and strive for transparency, clarity, and kindness. Daylight chases away suspicion and distrust.

So we can discuss painful events of the past, but with the goal of using those experiences to do better, BE better. I could say so much more, but please: go read Alison's post instead.

Rsync and Backup Success

A blog post started long ago, back in Oct. 2010:

If you are a reader of my blog, you might have suffered along with me through a non-existent backup. Tomorrow, I'm setting off for UDS in Orlando, Florida, and I wanted to be sure to have an up-to-date backup. So I started up my 1.5 T backup, newly formatted, and looked up a reliable article about using rsync. No more relying on GUI front-ends to it! I wanted to use it direct from the command-line, so I could see the errors right away. is simple and understandable, even for me. "The basic syntax for rsync is simple enough -- just run rsync [options] source destination to copy the file or files provided as the source argument to the destination."

Written in the now:

Unfortunately, I didn't finish this blog post after returning from Florida, but today a major disaster became a minor disaster by means of 1. a small screwdriver, 2. an inexpensive disk drive enclosure ($14.99 at Fry's), and 3. this simple command:
rsync -av /media/home/valorie/Music /home/valorie/Music
Disaster was my laptop power supply dying on me, without a recent backup. I know, shame on me! Instead, I used the screwdriver to take out the hard drive and attempted to put it into the HD enclosure I already have. However, it didn't fit. So I wrapped up the HD securely, and made a trip to Fry's. I showed the salesman the drive, to ensure I got the right kind of enclosure (SATA).

Once home, I put the drive into the enclosure, hooked it up to my netbook (thanks, ZaReason!) and began transferring my music from my old laptop to my new one, while continuing to work on the Amarok Handbook, which is *almost done*! I took the opportunity of a freshly installed Amarok to make some screenshots with which to finish the book!

An update: One trouble I've had, besides some error messages that Sre-su helped me to figure out (thank you again, Sre-su!), is that the drive kept un-mounting. I don't know why -- bad USB connection, bad enclosure, bad HD -- but the solution is to just run the command again. Rsync checks the files it has already done, and then just charges ahead. I added -r (recursive) to be sure all music files were copied, and --progress so I can see at a glance what is going on. Also, --dry-run is cool -- it shows you what will happen, quick as a flash. Also, sre-su pointed out that I needed sudo before the command, which is now:
sudo rsync -avr --progress /media/home/valorie/Music /home/Music

I didn't catch my error in the above command until today, when I wondered why my music was STILL not in my Amarok collection! What must have happened is that while my original command was correct, the USB drive is touchy, and I needed to run it a few times. Not knowing this, I changed it, and put my Music not in /home/valorie/Music where it belongs, but in /home/Music/. Bleah.

Proper command, after all, is:
rsync -avr --progress /media/home/valorie/Music /home/valorie/Music