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KEYWORDS= Davrom Consulting Newsletter - Issue # 41 - Dated: 14 May 2008

From the desk of David Clark

This month I have touched on a simple backup strategy for Windows PC
folders using DeltaCopy and a reflection on trying to keep the older
applications alive on older operating systems.

Having just come through a bout of the flu I can empathise with how some
of the older application servers are feeling out there ;-)

I would like to thank the reader for their time in reading this


UNIX Quote

Those who don't understand Linux are doomed to reinvent it, poorly.


So why is a Linux/UNIX newsletter showing a DOS/Windows path?

For quite some time now I have observed customers who, when having crash
recovery issues on their Windows PC, are then trying to locate all of
their Windows application files (documents, spreadsheets, pdf etc).

If they are lucky these are still under the My Documents folder but also
may be located in the Desktop folder. One key issue is if the ID of the
PCs login user (Windows username) has changed or if you do a restore
installation to a PC that already has valid login IDs, the new storage
location may be set to something different under Documents and Settings.
For example a new folder called david.000 may be the new default folder
instead of the previous david folder. (Mainly happens on XP repair
installs and if you just follow the defaults).

So you go through and you search around and then you put all of the bits
back after quite some time of lost productivity.

But a practice I have done for many years through the versions of Windows
is to keep all of my application data in one unique directory: c:\data

A better practice if you are running Samba servers is to store them to a
mapped drive on your Linux/UNIX server.

But if I must save anything to drive c:, by setting the default Windows
document files location in products such as MS Office or OpenOffice to use
subdirectories under c:\data (eg., c:\data\docs, c:\data\spreadsheets,
c:\data\photos), I am able to backup this one folder (c:\data) and I know
I have everything that _I_ want to save. I even move the default directory
for e-mail folders in ThunderBird to c:\data\thunderbird.

The discipline of storing all important documents to a folder that I know
and use allows me to never lose anything I wish to recover in the future
regarless of what goes on with the Windows operating system.

Anyone who has had to dig around the folders and sub-folders, and the
sub-folders of the sub-folders, to find important files that you need to
keep should relate to this one.

By using a unique directory called c:\data I can also backup this folder
with our office system backup facility - please read the next article on
DeltaCopy for a good reliable way to backup your Windows folders to
Linux/UNIX servers running rsync.


In our office we backup to external USB hard drives which also allow us
to store one of these off-site as well. The backup runs every night on
one of our Fedora servers in our office.

Until recently the Fedora server has used Samba (via smbclient) to
collect folders on the Windows PCs to store locally and naturally be
included in the USB backup. Our SCO and other Fedora/SUN servers backup
to the Fedora backup server via rsync - nice and easy.

But as Windows PCs are under the control of other people it can sometimes
be days before the Samba routine gets a backup of the folders on the PCs
as they may be switched off at the time of the Fedora server collection
script runs. Coupled with the fact that the same data is being copied each
time can also push out the time constraints to make it onto the USB
drive in time (And let's not mention that Vista on one of our PCs doesn't
like talking to Samba or the network from time to time).

We are now using DeltaCopy which is a free Windows based utility that
allows you to use "rsync" from Windows to/from Linux/UNIX servers. DeltaCopy
is both a Client and Server. The product was written by a company called
Synametrics and you will find many download sites by simply entering
"deltacopy rsync" in Google.

DeltaCopy can also act as a server and therefore you can backup to the
Windows PC.

DeltaCopy uses rsync and therefore is only copying the files that have
changed since the last backup so time to backup is greatly reduced.
DeltaCopy allows you to set a schedule of the time you want the PC to
perform the rsync backup so no human intervention is required. Another
excellent feature is that DeltaCopy can send an e-mail to advise that it
has execute with the results of the copy process shown.

A nice product for those who only need to copy specific parts of their
Windows folder structure to a central Linux/UNIX server. I have yet to
test the ability of DeltaCopy backups to be a complete restore of Windows
(owing to Windows protection files etc) but it is certainly worth
considering to help centralise protecting your application data.

Older Operating Systems on New Hardware

Over the last twelve months I have been increasingly involved with sites
wishing to maintain their old UNIX/Linux server and the application(s) on
them but unfortunately the hardware they live on is starting to fail.

The older operating systems (eg., SCO OpenServer 5.0.4, SCO UnixWare 2.0,
RedHat 7.0 are recent issues for us) start to face a new problem when
trying to prolong their life and that is to do with the recognition of the
latest or later hardware available today. The new motherboards, RAID
controllers (SATA and SCSI), CPUs, network cards, parallel and serial
ports may not be recognised by the older operating system.

While you can possibly get the application to live happily on a new
server with the latest release of the operating system, there can be
issues with library file dependencies that the application simply must
have - and have the version they work with (eg., MySQL, Progress etc).

You can spend considerable time trying to 'trick' the application by
modifying system symbolic links on the new operating system, but this
can lead to dead-ends as well. In one case of MySQL, it looks like trying
to compile it for the later operating system is the only road to take (oh
to be on the bleeding edge).

One solution we have been implementing for most customers is porting them
to run in VMWare - VMWare allows older operating systems to see the new
hardware in a more generic and simpler driver set and for the most part
works well on any systems that don't need specific kernel driver access to
serial/parallel ports for example. VMWare runs inside a newer operating
system such as Linux or Windows and presents the generic hardware layer
to the older operating system.

In some cases just finding older hardware that is in good condition will
also suffice and I have customers who have a "bits box" sitting next to
the live server to allow swapping out of parts as the older hardware
starts to give up.

Most applications can keep going with wither VMWare or porting them to
the newer operating system but these are certainly not without some
challenges at times.

UNIX/Linux truly does far outlive the hardware it exists on.

Tech Tip

Using locate to find files:

locate is a quick and simple to use utility to help find file locations
on your Linux server. To locate any files with the name davrom.com in
them, I would simply type:

locate davrom.com

if the list is quite large, then I can type:

locate davrom.com | more

There are some useful options to the locate command:

locate -c davrom.com

will show how many files match this pattern without showing the file

locate -i davrom.com

will show you files that match in uppercase or lowercase.

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