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Moving Files In Linux - page 4

The Low Security Family

  • May 22, 2003
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

rsync comes to us from the Samba project, at http://rsync.samba.org/. This underutilized but valuable tool is excellent for keeping Web and FTP site mirrors up to date, not to mention for keeping the contents of local directories within your network in sync. You can also use it for private "secure" purposes such as data backup, as long as you are sure to utilize rsync within an ssh connection.

rsync is a client/server application, and like FTP, you can use it for both anonymous and login-required transfers. For the client end, you can learn more by typing man rsync, and for the server end it's man rsyncd.conf. You don't have to use rsync with an rsync server, however. You can use the client to connect to an FTP or HTTP server as well.

Say that I'm using Mandrake Linux 9.1 and want to grab the latest packages available for this version without using Mandrake Update. I first go to http://www.mandrakesecure.net/en/ftp.php and select the mirror: I'll use the one at my alma matter, Penn State (carroll.cac.psu.edu), for this example.

I begin by finding out if there are any rsync servers running on this server. The command I use for this is:

rsync carroll.cac.psu.edu::

The response is, at the time of this writing (without the PSU banner):

Apache                  Apache
caldera                 Caldera Linux distribution
caldera-iso             Caldera Linux distribution ISO images
collegelinux            Collegelinux Linux distribution
cpan                    Comprehensive Perl Archive Network
ctan                    Comprehensive Tex Archive Network
cygwin                  Cygwin
debian                  Debian Linux distribution
debian-cd               Debian Linux distribution CD images
freebsd                 FreeBSD
gentoo                  Gentoo Linux distribution
gnome                   The GNOME ftp site
gnu                     GNU repository
kde                     The KDE ftp site
kernel                  Kernel.org
mandrake                Mandrake Linux distribution
mandrake-devel          Mandrake development tree
mandrake-iso            Mandrake development tree ISOs
mandrake-old            Mandrake old releases
netbsd                  NetBSD
openbsd                 OpenBSD
opencd                  OpenCD Windows Distribution
redhat-redhat           Red Hat, Inc. -- Red Hat FTP Site, RedHat Area
redhat-ftp              Red Hat, Inc. -- Red Hat FTP Site
redhat-beta             Red Hat, Inc. -- Red Hat Linux beta releases
redhat-contrib          Red Hat, Inc. -- Contrib FTP Site
redhat-rawhide          Red Hat, Inc. -- Rawhide FTP Site
redhat-updates          Red Hat, Inc. -- Updates FTP Site
sgifreeware             freeware.sgi.com
slackware               Slackware Linux distribution
sorcerer                Sorceror Linux distribution
splack                  Splack Linux distribution
sunfreeware             ftp ftp.sunfreeware.com
suse                    SuSE Linux distribution
xfree86                 XFree86
ximian                  Ximian GNOME
yellowdog               YellowDog Linux distribution

Since what I'm interested in is Mandrake updates, I now type the following to find the contents of the mandrake section:

rsync carroll.cac.psu.edu::mandrake

The results, minus the PSU banner, are:

drwxr-xr-x   4096 2003/04/05 16:30:04 .
drwxr-xr-x   4096 2003/03/25 07:19:02 9.0
drwxr-sr-x   4096 2003/03/25 07:46:53 9.1
lrwxrwxr-x       3 2003/03/25 08:30:05 current
drwxr-xr-x   4096 2003/03/25 13:40:45 iso
-rw-r--r-- 287053 2003/04/05 05:00:03 ls-lR.gz
drwxrwsr-x   4096 2003/03/11 12:03:39 updates

Since it's updates I'm looking for, I now try:

rsync carroll.cac.psu.edu::mandrake/updates

This gives me the following:

drwxrwsr-x 4096 2003/03/11 12:03:39 updates

What this tells me is that this is as as deep as I can go with rsync without recursively listing all files and directories. I'll do this by adding the -r flag:

rsync -r carroll.cac.psu.edu::mandrake/updates | more

The output is too long to list here, but what it shows me is that there are subdirectories for each Mandrake version. Using:

rsync -r carroll.cac.psu.edu::mandrake/updates/9.1 | more

shows me that I want the RPMS subdirectory, and:

rsync -r carroll.cac.psu.edu::mandrake/updates/9.1/RPMS | more

shows me that I've finally found the directory containing the files themselves.

Ideally, I would now build a script that checked to see if I had the package installed before bothering to download an item, but for now I'm content to download everything in the updates directory that I don't already have. To accomplish this, I'll use (this line of code may show wrapped for readability, but it's meant to be all one line):

rsync -uv carroll.cac.psu.edu::mandrake/updates/9.1/RPMS/*
/home/dee/Updates/Mandrake

The -u flag tells rsync to only grab the files that I don't already have, and the -v tells rsync to be verbose and show me the name of each file as it's grabbing them rather than just showing me the server's banner and then sitting there silently while it does its work. The path at the end (/home/dee/Updates/Mandrake) tells rsync where I want the files to go.

If I was using this tool in a way that I needed security, I could use the flag and option:

-e ssh

to tell rsync to tunnel through the secure shell to do its work. rsync is a powerful, flexible tool. It can also be rather confusing, and digging around for examples on the Web is the best way I've found to get a handle on this program's many features.

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