[lug] large file management

Davide Del Vento davide.del.vento at gmail.com
Mon Mar 17 15:24:49 MDT 2014

I have a large number of fairly large files (spoiler alert: the
digital pictures of a lifetime). The collection is growing, mostly but
not only by append. I have three copies onsite, and would like to add
a forth copy offsite. Two of the copies are actively edited
(occasionally, but the frequency doesn't matter), and often appended.
The third (and forth) copy is just for backup.

Managing such a collection of files is becoming a nightmare. Consider
some scenarios:

Some files are added to Copy 1 (my laptop) taken from the SD card of
the camera in a hurry. No synch is done with the other copies at this
time, because I have to run out of the door to take pictures of the

Some files are deleted in Copy 2 (e.g. by my wife) because they were
out of focus, blurred, not worth keeping. No synch is done with the
other copies at this time, either.

Some (old) files are deleted in Copy 2 (e.g. by myself) because we run
out of space in the laptop.

Then, one is in the process of rsynch'ing the 3 copies and my rsynch
workflow (discussed on this list some time ago, IIRC) breaks. Not that
it was particularly good anyway, having to know "off channel" what
happened to which copy before I could fire a reasonable command....
Since I'm reading my swag at the BLUG (Cliff Stoll's "Silicon Snake
Oil", but that's the subject for another post), I'm tempted to say
"computers are crap", let my mother ship me my old film cameras and
lenses from the early 80s (or maybe buying them here for cheap) and
stop at that. Heck those cameras worked even without batteries!

Instead I say: there must be a better way. I mean, we solve this very
same problem (for text files) zillions of times a day, don't we? But
for large binaries, I can't just throw [git|hg|svn] at it and be
happy. As mentioned in the scenario, at least on one machine space is
tight. Yes, space is getting cheaper and the like, but: a) I don't
have any money to buy a disk for that laptop and b) there is no reason
to keep a copy of some pictures from a trip in 2003 on it anyway. And
I am not even sure [git|hg|svn] is the right tool for the job.

So googling around I found http://code.google.com/p/boar/ and
http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/index.html and I ask: has
any of you tried either? Or anything other piece of software worth
trying for this purpose?


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