not all change is progress
September 6, 2015
Direct download links: MP3 & Ogg
0:01:11 Behind the Headlines
0:49:42 Simple Bidirectional File Syncing
Having suffered the predictable outpouring of scorn, we go behind the headlines to discuss whether Microsoft’s Windows 10 really poses any greater threat to your privacy than similar offerings from the likes of Google. We also talk Linux on big iron, plus offer some thoughts about a couple of new input devices for your phone or tablet.
After your feedback, Jesse and Paddy try out a selection of supposedly simple bidirectional file syncing utilities. We’d love to repeat this segment with applications that actually work, so suggestions to the usual address please!0:01:11 Behind the Headlines
Three weeks ago IBM launches LinuxONE at LinuxCon, announces
Open Mainframe Project
Ubuntu on the Mainframe: Interview with Canonical’s Dustin Kirkland
We mentioned a couple of other podcast interviews during this segment:
Bad Voltage 1×38 (NSFW)
Software Engineering Radio Episode 184
Huge savings prompt Italian city to dump OpenOffice for
Microsoft after four years
Calls for city that ditched Microsoft for Linux to switch laptops to Windows
Here’s the one ‘major problem’ facing Munich after switching from Windows to Linux
Video of talk about LiMux at DebConf15
Windows 10 now on 75 million devices, says Microsoft
Ten years of Ubuntu: How Linux’s beloved newcomer became its criticized king
Automatic Windows 10 Updates Chewing Through Data Caps
Windows, Privacy, and You
Even when told not to, Windows 10 just can’t stop talking to Microsoft
Updates Make Windows 7 and 8 Spy On You Like Windows 10
fix windows 10
LG Rolly Keyboard rolls up into a stick for easy
The Dell keyboard Paddy praised was a re-branded version of the old, but absolutely terrific, iGo Stowaway. Anybody still using one?
This Modular Touchpad May Be the Future of Input Devices
A huge thank you to debb1046 and shtrom for the Flattrs, and to our existing PayPal Monthly Supporters.
Topslakr got in touch about Fedora; as did Jed Reynolds, who pointed out some of the valid use-cases remaining for 32 bit distros (support for which Fedora appear to shortly be about to drop).
We spoke about Windows 10 earlier in the show, and brindleoak wrote in to express his concern that since it’s perfectly usable, what incentive is there now to suggest Linux as an alternative…?
Following our recent chat about browsers becoming near-as-damnit full operating systems, 0xf10e reminded us about the impending arrival of WebAssembly.
Moritz oferred further thoughts about GitLab, and pointed us towards a guest blog post by Mike Gerwitz.
Many of us need to sync files between devices, and Lars Falk-Petersen wondered what we thought about Syncthing? Whilst we’ll no doubt look at this applications in a future show, listen on for our views on some (sadly weak) alternatives.
We received a lot of positive feedback on our interview with Ron Minnich about the coreboot project. Thanks in particular to Will and Alex for your comments. And Will also shared some thoughts about recent unwelcome developments with Firefox.
0:49:42 Simple Bidirectional File Syncing
Looking for a straightforward, command-line, bidirectional file syncing utility? After trying out bsync, csync and Bitpocket, so are we. Any suggestions gratefully received.
FreeFileSync works very well for me, try that out http://www.freefilesync.org/
Windows does poorly in budget laptops and has by design remote access holes allowing organized cyber criminals, often moonlighting security services people, access to your computer. Most likely to steal a few hundred dollars each from millions of people. Meanwhile Linux running say fluxbox is fine on budget laptops, with fewer users and remote access holes.
This matters because for ordinary people the issue is not the govt or Micrisoft spying on them but avoiding being a lucrative and easy target set for transnational cyber criminals. Niche operating systems are therefore a plus because it costs more and criminals get less in targeting that smaller user base. Also low cost and decent performance are not available in Windows.
My comments on the changes to Firefox were my initial reaction. You guys did a good job highlighting the pros and cons of the upcoming changes. Since the announcement, Mozilla has made some indications that they would like to extend their new API to enable all of the Firefox add-ons that currently exist and that the announcement was made early to allow developers time to request missing API’s. We have to wait and see how much functionality is lost and how many add-ons make it through the transition. I do worry about add-on development stagnating as new features are added to the browser without corresponding add-on API’s. On the other hand, the security and stability benefits of having a well-defined API rather than letting any add-on do anything are significant.
Just a quick question, I haven’t ever used windows 10 and
have no need nor want but with all the issues with
privacy is there not a simple way to block it all by
adding a couple of Microsoft’s URLs into there hosts
file? Or have they blocked the likes of this? Just seems
like the easiest way to me but I am happy to be proven
Great show guys
Yeeaah… Cortana might be a huge selling point for win10
until your corporate users learn the admins have to
cripple it into unusability to stay inside security
policies… Working in a well known german research
organization we can’t have _anyone_, especially not
foreign corporations, processing everything said in
presence of a windows box.
Obviously i want to push the number of windows installations down further because of all the additional work this will cause.
Have you noticed the “Linux community complaining repeatedly about Microsoft and confidentiality on Google +…,,,,,just a bit strange to me
I’ve been using Linux since I bought my first Redhat boxed distribution from PC World. I have converted family and friends to Peppermint OS, but only the ones that need the basics, a web browser, Skype, VLC and maybe Gimp and Inkscape.
There are two words that stop Linux from becoming popular and they are ‘Command Line’. Of course, the command line is powerful but it also a very primitive method of input. I would say 95% of Windows and Mac users have never even opened the command line, let alone know what to do with it.
I tried to get my teenage nephews to use Linux, their reply was “Linux is for old people”. Until using the command line becomes the exception and not the rule, Linux will remain the OS for servers, geeks and friends of geeks.
Really!? Command Line? Hey, Windows and Mac both have the ability to use CLI. Most of all the common task can be done via a GUI in Linux.
But come one, I am a newbie to Linux and command line ain’t that hard. Most cases, copy and paste is ALL that is needed. And command line is as hard as you want to make it. And command line is also as EASY as you want to make it. Most old people think linux is for YOUNG people. I am no geek, I have a small tax practice. To prepare taxes I have to put the right number in the right box. Command line is nothing more than typing in the right command. Easy Peasy.
Enrique. If you listening to this podcast and
using the term CLI, then you’re a geek (or at
least a demi-geek LOL). Whether the command line
is easy peasy or not, is really not the point.
The world is moving towards automation, voice
commands, etc. Every day we see new innovations
that require less manual interaction,
self-driving cars, voice controlled ovens,
Mycroft, Cortana, Alexa, etc. When you visit a
Linux-related site, you see lines of code. For
95% of computer users, it’s as scary as a Wookie
and as understandable as Shyriiwook. Few people
can imagine the future as being command line
based. “Mr Spock, what is the status”, “One
moment Captain whilst I enter the bash command”.
I believe the Command Line is Linux’s greatest
power but also its greatest barrier to
Note – This is my experience, it doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree.
I used BitTorrent Sync for awhile on some of my folders, https://www.getsync.com/, which supposedly works across the various operating systems including your phones. However after about a year it started erasing files with certain extensions. I could put in pictures and watch them get erased. So I went back to rsync. Years ago I wrote a wrapper around git that seems to work the best because it lets me keep backups of all the files as they change with time. I don’t use that now but I think I should dust it off. It worked flawlessly for many years but it required a reachable server and cron jobs. I was hoping somebody would have made an app but the closest I see is what Apple has done with their Time Machine which only has half the capability.
I use syncthing for large files. I think it’s pretty easy to set up and not bloated, although Paddy may disagree. For everything else I use git. I have the “master” copy of all my repos on a Linode server. These repos contain no working trees, but are all bare repos. They just get used for pushing/pulling updates. I have some shell scripts that check if the repos on my current computer are up to date and if they aren’t will attempt to fast forward them from the remote. I also have scripts that backup any changes from whichever computer I am working on to the remote repo.
As you say git also keeps all your history, which can be very useful for recovering data when you accidentally delete something. Although git can do some very complicated things, for this simple use case it’s not difficult to use. If you want to use git for backing up large files, you might want to look at git-annex.
I also use git-annex. I am pretty sure it will woefully fail Paddy’s requirement of being easy to use. It gives me a headache trying to think of how to set it up for different use cases. There are some cases where it works well though. It is good for managing partial checkouts of a large repository of files when you want to keep one directory structure and be able to pull files onto a device with limited storage and then drop them again later, but this requires fiddling on the command line. It is also good for avoiding data corruption by making sure that conflicts are stored in separate git branches and never overwrite live data — but actually resolving conflicts again ultimately requires fiddling with the command line. I have had the best success with it on collections of static files that only grow over time like pictures, music, pdfs, etc. I have a small server that I use as a go between. I set up my other devices to sync a folder with the server automatically using the Assistant. Then whenever I drop files into that folder on any computer they show up on all of the others. But this use case avoids all of the conflict resolution issues that a sync application is really needed for.
After hearing how gitlabs had a free option I was curious about why I did not see any replies to my comment and what the free option included. And of course I wanted to see what RMS said. RMS being a true luddite always has interesting opinions that I greatly value.
So first to find the comments mentioned. So I looked at the G+ website. (I can’t believe anybody uses G+ but then again maybe because I don’t I have a hard time understanding G+. I don’t use any social media.) So pressing ctrl-f and searching for gitlabs turned up nothing. I really wish they would get rid of G+. Then I scrolled to the end and let it reload and repeated the reloads about 10x and tried ctrl-f again. Nothing. I think you have a facebook page too but I’m not going there. All these feedback methods make it difficult to track a topic from the show. It sure would be nice if there were some utility that swept through all the social media and gathered it to your server where one could be confident they gathered all the information.
Then I went looking at the gitlabs site for the free option. It’s not clear what or where that free option is. According to the show there is a link on the first page and then another link on the pricing page. Bah humbug. All I see is some free service if you don’t install the normal stuff. It seems some outliner subset is free which apparently has little to do with their core product. Oh well. I think I will avoid this product like I avoid github. Bitbucket seems to be the best but really people should host their own repositories and be done with big brother totally.
Are you looking for a free hosted service from GitLab or free software to host your own instance of GitLab? The pricing page is for their paid enterprise services. Their personal hosting service is here: https://about.gitlab.com/gitlab-com/. Also, unlike GitHub and Bitbucket, GitLab has open sourced or plans to open source all of the code used to run their hosting service: https://about.gitlab.com/2015/08/03/almost-everything-we-do-is-now-open/
I appreciate your look into file sync’ing — something that I also would like to just work without much set up or fuss. I have been meaning to try out Syncthing but haven’t gotten around to it. I was surprised you covered the topic without looking at it. Looking over the getting started page and build requirements (basically just Go) it seems fairly straightforward to set up, so I will be interested to hear more about why Paddy thinks it is bloated and overly complex when you do look at it.
I didn’t test it, but it looks like there already is a pull request opened on bsync’s GitHub page to address your issues of batch mode requiring interaction: https://github.com/dooblem/bsync/pull/19. I wouldn’t consider using the other two tools. I am pretty quick to dismiss anything that hasn’t been updated in two years.
I was surprised that Paddy viewed reliance on rsync as a negative characteristic. When it comes to transferring, deduplicating, backing up etc my data, I prefer a solution that is well tested and widely used like rsync. Also, for remote copies, rsync does a good job only transferring the parts of files that are different rather than transferring the whole file when part of it has changed and checking file integrity after the transfer. I’d trust rsync with those jobs over custom code written specially for a small project. Regarding the Unix philosophy of small tools that do one thing well — couldn’t you flip that around and say that a small file sync’ing application that just focuses on sync’ing and leaves the transferring to a separate tool is in keeping with the philosophy?
Oh, I also meant to ask Jesse — would your issues with typing in your password repeatedly have been solved by using ssh-agent?
I’ve appended my public key with my sever used for the sync backup so when I SSH from my PC there’s no password. Hence using that PC it did the sync fine whereas the laptop without this key pair was a nightmare. I would therefore assume that using ssh-agent would also have worked, or at least reduced the password entry to a manageable 1x.
Surprised you didn’t look at Obnam or Seafile for sync.
Thanks for your suggestions @thefalcon, however these are slightly different solutions to what we wanted for our comparison piece – Obnam is backup rather than pure CLI synchronisation and Seafile is a self hosted document, file, contacts and calendar sync program with collaborative editing. This is a bit full-on for simple sync application but we did review it against OwnCloud and Pydio in epi #37 which you may want to revisit for our view on that software.
In theory it should be possible to add calend are functionality on top of Seafile, although this would require a client that is able to read and write calendar data via an ordinary file system which then would be synchronised via Seafile; document sharing will probably require some serious hacking.
More than happy to discuss the details over a pint when we meet @ Oggcamp soon – looking forward to seeing you all in person and sharing the massive amounts of room for improvement @ the Luddites (only kiddin or am I :-).
blog post about BTSync and Syncthing from DEDOIMEDEO
just showe up in my rss-feed reader and I thought this would
be useful for the discussion.
Article is titled: “BitTorrent backups – BTsync and
can be found here:
I’m using Unison for two way sync, which I don’t think you’ve mentioned. It’s self contained, configurable, and seems to work well enough.
thanks for sharing!
There are different kinds of file sync’ing programs. My impression was that Paddy was looking for something that was simple to set up in a way that would sync automatically in real time and handle conflicts without losing data — basically something that works like DropBox. Can Unison be set up in this way? I thought it required some manual intervention and was somewhat resource intensive so you wouldn’t want to leave it constantly running. I have only used it a couple times though.
Unison has a batch mode.
I’ve never tried it in “real time” – running every ~10 seconds on my machines – but there is a script that will watch the filesystem and trigger syncs if something changes. Conflict handling works, but by default it just ignores the conflicting files. You can set it up so that it will attempt to merge them for, and describe a command to merge the files for a given pattern, but I haven’t tried that (IMO, too risky).
Unison is a bit resource intensive, although it shouldn’t be too bad on anything capable of driving a web browser. It takes ~ 1 day to initially sync to my Pi, but that’s because it uses 100MB+ of RAM on first sync (and around ~20GB of data needs sending); too much for an 256MB Pi. Still, for most people, it *should* be fine.
I just listened to the show and was eager to hear about more ways of biderectional syncing. Very disapointed by the result though. You missed Unison. Like the comentor above mentions it’s self contained, highly configurable but is also multiplatform, has a cli ánd a gui, works with ssh cron etc etc.. It still uses rsync though. But whats wrong with rsync?
I haven’t tinkered with unison yet, but it looks great! Thanks for sharing
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