Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rsync, Level: Expert

Learning all kinds of new things, like how to escape spaces in filenames. When I tried the command
$ sudo rsync -avr --progress /etc/ /media/FreeAgent Backup/etc/
I got only error messages. What works is quoting,
sudo rsync -avr --progress /etc/ "/media/FreeAgent Backup/etc/"
or escaping:
sudo rsync -avr --progress /etc/ /media/FreeAgent\ Backup/etc/
. I back up /etc as it's small, and may be useful. The main thing to backup, of course, is /home:
sudo rsync -avr --progress /home/valorie/ "/media/FreeAgent Backup/home/"
where /home is the source, and /media/FreeAgent Backup/ is the destination. Thanks to sbeattie and maco in #ubuntu-women for showing me this.

Also, empty trash BEFORE running a backup of /home!
sudo rm -r /home/valorie/.local/share/Trash/*
. In #ubuntu-women, JanC suggested using "the GUI or a special commandline tool to empty the trash, as it keeps references around etc. The trash-cli package contains a command
." When I asked what she meant by references, JanC explained, "references as to what file has to be restored to where (if you ever want to do so). And of course there are separate trash directories on every disk you have etc. AFAIK trash-cli implements the XDG spec about this, just like GNOME & KDE do."

In #kubuntu-offtopic, James147 suggested that rather than just emptying the trash, I use --exclude=, ie rsync ... --exclude=*/Trash/* --exclude=*.tmp --exclude=*.bak ... etc. He suggested "useful patterns might be: *.tmp *.bak *.backup *~ *.swp */lost+found/*. I really wish I had thought to do this, and I definitely will in future. Watching that stuff scroll past as I waited was not fun!

I asked, "so each of the excludes needs to be separate, like: --exclude=*/Trash/* --exclude=*.tmp --exclude=*.bak"

[15:27] <james147> yes
[15:27] <james147> each pattern you want to exclude needs a separate --exclude=
[15:27] <james147> ^^ can get long but thats what scripts are for :D
[15:28] <valorie> that maybe my next step
[15:28] <valorie> for now, a good string I can copy/paste will be good

[15:29] <james147> valorie: a script isn't hard to do...

[15:29] <valorie> the up-arrow in bash makes things pretty easy
[15:30] <james147> valorie: can be as simple as
1. #!/bin/bash
   2. rsync ... --exclude=*.tmp --exclude=/Trash/* ... # add and edit this line till it suits your needs
[15:30] ^^ then you just need to run "chmod +x scriptname"
[15:31] then run it with ./scriptname or bash scriptname or sh scriptname
[15:31] (use sudo if it needs root)
[15:31] valorie: bash scripts can just be a bunch of commands you want to run

I'm not quite ready to wrap all this into a script, but will definitely think about do so before my next backup. discussing scripting the backup process too. For now, on to Natty Narwhal!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

GSoC and Season of KDE - Let's GO!

Our students have received their acceptance letters, and this year are being assembled into small teams. So the students will not only have access to their project community and mentor(s), and us admins, but also each other. We hope that this will make it more likely that students will not only contribute code to KDE, but their continuing participation.

We had many strong proposals this year, but unfortunately were only able to accept 51 out of the 169 proposals for GSoC. However, now Season of KDE has been announced! See Nightrose's blog for all the details: If you are one of the hundred or so students who were not selected for GSoC, please consider applying for SoK. The T-shirt is always *awesome*, and you'll also get swag and a certificate attesting to your contribution.

While we created this for the folks who could not do GSoC, it is open to all, and need not be code. Please discuss your plans with the community where you would like to work, because a mentor is required for participation. If you cannot find a mentor yourself, please apply anyway and ask us to help find you one. All this new code is great! But what is really important, is that we are growing the KDE community. Put on your thinking cap, and apply!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kubuntu Natty is on the way!

Wow, it seems like just a few months ago we did the planning for this release, at UDS-N. Now beta time is almost done, and Natty Narwhal will emerge fully-formed. It really has been an amazing ride, and I'd like to thank the Kubuntu team for all their wonderful work.

Also, without the encouragement of first the Linuxchix, and then Ubuntu-Women, I never would have been part of it. A minor part, but I did my best to help out where I could.

In this next cycle, Oneiric Ocelot, I'll be less involved with UDS-O, since I'm attending remotely. However, I *really want* to work on the Kubuntu documentation this cycle, and I resolve to do so.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Me, Wrong? Oh, Yes!

Thanks to DoctorMo's great blogpost, I just watched another great Ted Talk, by Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong. I've had a similar experience to her opening story, where my brain was stuck in a wrong ... frame, I guess you could call it. A mistaken conceptual frame. And of course, I've made some huge mistakes in my life, and in all of them, I felt totally justified in my actions, as in the Fool of the first Tarot card.

But the reason I decided to discuss this issue here, on my tech blog, has to do with the social costs she mentions in the talk (please watch it!). When we present our case to others, and they disagree, we often feel that they are 1. ignorant, 2. idiots, or 3. malevolent. This series of unfortunate assumptions is played out in our culture over and over again, whether "our culture" means the politics of the United States (I'm American, excuse my cultural scope), or the behavior sometimes observed on FOSS mail lists, forums, and IRC channels -- or even face-to-face meetings.

We lose so much when we allow this to happen. The folks we encounter in these venues are full of experience and knowledge, and if we meet them with the attitude of learning, rather than proving ourselves right, we all gain! Consider the marketplace of ideas as a bazaar, where bargaining (the exchange of ideas, experience, knowledge) leaves both participants richer and happier. Often what I see instead is gladiators battling in the Coliseum. One walks away the "victor" -- and the other one lies bleeding. What a waste! The cost of such behavior is very high, but is hidden, because all of the wonderful collaborations which could take place, instead do not.

Please take the time to watch this short talk. It is well worth 20 minutes of your time.

Notes on notes

I've been looking for many years for a good note-taking application. While still on Windows, I used (and paid for) ClipCache, which was perfect. I've not found anything that meets my needs as well, yet, in the FOSS world.

I used Basket for a long while, until an update lost all my stored notes! My efforts to restore them were futile. Now Basket is no longer being developed, or I would give it another try. A student proposed making Baskets and Notes shareable as a GSoC project, however, no mentor could be found. So I've given up hope there.

I also tried out TuxNotes for awhile, but again, my notes were lost in an upgrade. This is just not acceptable. This project seems to be totally gone, or maybe I am remembering the name of the app incorrectly.

Big windup for my decision to download and install Tomboy, with the announcement of TomDroid, which I can use on my phone too. I really hated to download all that gnome/ubuntu/mono stuff to support it, but oh, well! I do have an UbuntuOne account, whether it works natively on Kubuntu or not (it does not). Now my notes will be available to me *everywhere*, which is what I want. AND, I'll never lose my notes again!

Sad update: UbuntuOne didn't work in Maverick, and it still doesn't work in Natty. Not even the ugly Gnome version. Le sigh.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Dirty Little Secret of F/OSS and How We Can Change Reality

Resistance is Useful

Hello internet. We have something to talk about, and it’s been cooking for some time.

We’re going to talk about geek culture, about misogyny, about rape culture and rape apologism, about safe-spaces and fear, harassment and assault, about growing-up-geek, about social responsibility, reckoning and resistance.[1]

We’re going to talk about my experience of this in a small Australian city, and about making a declaration of intransigence.

I would ask each of my readers to not only read this essay, but put it into practice, and also pass it along. As I said in my comment, the best way to get bullies to STOP, is to name and shame them. But it takes us bystanders to realize that we are the majority, we are the Public, and we can stop this. If we band together, and if we want to.

There is a followup at where we learn that Reality is difficult to grasp for some, and the lovely news that MikeeUSA is spewing his woman-hating barf again.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Sound of Silence, Solved by a New User; Skype Not So Easy

Skype can be useful, I admit. But I haven't been able to get it to work in Maverick, at all. First I could hear callers, but they couldn't hear me. Then their sound got intermittent, and then, no sound at all. Then the other day I was messing with sound settings trying to get it working again for a meeting, but while the pulse tools registered sound, Skype didn't.

The next day, the laptop was silent. No sound in any application, the sample wave didn't work, nothing. I found a helpful page here:, and with some extra help from Himanshu, was able to restore sound. Here is how I did it.

From the page: "Can you play a known-good sound?

aplay is part of the alsaplayer package, and Front_Center.wav is part of the alsa-utils package, so both are pretty standard. So try to run
aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav
." No, it would not play. Next step:

"Can someone else play a known-good sound?

Login with another user account. If this user has sound try the following.

Rename the .pulse directory of the user that has no sound to .pulse_bad. You need to do this with sudo and the user with problems must be logged out. [emphasis mine]
sudo mv /home/problem_user/.pulse /home/problem_user/.pulse_bad
." [note that problem_user needs to be replaced by your actual troubled username]

Sounds very straight-forward, but I was not for the life of me able to log in as another user. To solve that problem, a different page was somewhat helpful: When I added a new user from the gui, or from the krunner, I simply was not able to log in. I was prompted immediately for a new password, which the gui seemed never to see.

Finally Himanshu suggested, in a console:
sudo passwd problem_user
Finally I was able to type in a new password, and then log into "problem_user" today. Problem_user had sound! When I was setting up Problem_user's account, I made sure it was part of the sudo group, so than I could paste into a console:
sudo mv /home/valorie/.pulse /home/valorie/.pulse_bad
Remember, my troubled user was myself! Problem_user didn't have any problems. :-)

Update: In another attempt to get skype working, I again hosed my sound. Thanks to an anonymous comment below, I decided to try the advice delete the .pulse folder which is quite a bit simpler than the above folderol. And it works! I'm still glad I learned how to create a new user successfully, and how to administer that user.

Now, in order to participate in my GSoC administrator meeting tomorrow, I still have to get Skype going, if possible. Wish me luck! (I had sound to me working, and they had access to IRC, so it was a partial success.)

Hint: I got these helpful pages from ubottu, the bot in #kubuntu. To access these links, type !sound and !user in the channel. It is always worthwhile asking ubottu for help, either for yourself or others in the channel.