Monday, May 18, 2009

Off To Italy, Ubuntu, Backups, Windows 7 and NTFS

I'm off to Italy today. I'll be gone a week. I'll try and get my required Thursday post in. We're on X. It's an easy one.

Just a side note. I've got a media/backup server at the house running Ubuntu. It recently upgraded to 9.04. That's one of the cool things about using "free" software. You just get the upgrades. I like feeling like I have the latest greatest software all the time.

I installed a 1 terabyte drive to store all my media on. I set it up as a samba share so I can write to it and read from it on my Windows machines. It works quite well except that I bought a substandard gigabit network adapter. It's a TRENDnet TEG-PCITXR 10/100/1000/2000Mbps PCI Copper Gigabit Network Adapter. I don't know if the card is just cheap or the drivers on Linux are just substandard or what. It works most of the time, but under heavy traffic it occasionally just quits working.

I bought a Western Digital Terabyte external drive to do my backups. The last time I bought Western Digital, it turned into a nightmare. I was thinking since it's external, it'll be less likely to cause such problems.

I plugged it into my Ubuntu machine and Ubuntu recognized it. It even put a little icon on my desktop to let me know I had plugged in and it had automatically mounted an external Western Digital drive. I started trying to copy my media to it (to make sure it would work as a backup).

Everything seemed to be going fine and suddenly I would start getting errors and it would quit. I started doing analysis and discovered that the darn thing was formatted for FAT32. Why do they ship external Terabyte drives as FAT32? The big problem with FAT32 is that it can't store files larger than 4 Gigabytes.

I opened up the handy dandy package installer on Ubuntu and did a search for NTFS. Sure enough there is an NTFS project available for Linux which is trying to create 100% compatibility with NTFS from Linux. I installed it and it allowed me to reformat the external drive as NTFS. All my trouble went away. I could have formatted as EXT3 or EXT4 as well, but I wanted to stick with something I could use on my Windows machines. Windows has some EXT3 emulators, but I didn't want to go down that path. In my experience I've discovered that it's better to emulate from Unix. Emulating from Windows can sometimes be flaky and at other times can be expensive. The geeks write good code and like to freely share it. The really good geeks like Unix better than Windows.

Also over the weekend I downloaded the Windows 7 Release Candidate. I installed the old beta version on my youngest daughter's computer and she loves it. She's already asked if I could install the released version when it comes out. She's hoping she can ask for it as a Christmas present. Windows 7 looks quite a bit different from what you think of as Windows. What always amuses me is that the GUI is getting closer and closer to what Unix looked like 20+ years ago as far as functionality. It's just prettier. They have done a nice job of taking advantage of the new graphics processors.

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