RSync Files to a Unix/BSD Backup Device from your Mac Laptop

My photo-taking workflow while on vacation usually involves taking a lot of photos daily, dumping them to a laptop, processing, then backing them up once I have returned home.
Previously, I accomplished this manually using BeyondCompare for Windows, as that would run on Windows Home Server.
Since moving to ZFS-based storage, however, this is no longer an option as BeyondCompare only has a Linux client (nothing for Unix/BSD).
There are other ways to get around this:

  • SSHFS and Meld – Complicated, somewhat bloated, but great BeyondCompare alternative
  • *Commander Utilities – Midnight Commander derivatives can accomplish similar tasks using the ctrl+x,d shortcut
  • Rsync – typically installed by default, easy to script

I chose Rsync as I wanted something more automated, but I do find myself using Midnight Commander from time-to-time to simply “get things done” when syncing files other than my images.

Here’s how I did it:

rsync -a -e ssh /volumes/PICTURES/ 'username@mymac:/Volumes/BIGRAID/'

Let’s break this down into smaller pieces:

rsync – this is the command that will do our heavy lifting and file comparison

-a – archive mode

-e – specify an RSH replacement

ssh  – use SSH

/volumes/PICTURES/ – this specifies the “Volumes” folder on my Mac, and the “PICTURES” drive within it. Replace this with the location of your items to backup

 – note the use of single quotes here. We’re using these in case there are spaces in the folder names, and we could have done the same above.

username@mymac – We’re logging on to the host “mymac” with the username “username”. You’ll probably want to change these. I use a hostname here, but you could just as easily use an IP address if you use static IP addresses.

:/volumes/BIGRAID/ – the colon denotes a subfolder on the server we are backing up to, and /volumes/BIGRAID in this case refers to a ZFS pool called “BIGRAID”.

Do you have a similar backup strategy for BSD/Unix targets that you would like to share?

MacBook Air Specs

Backlit 13.3″ widescreen display


1.8″ hard drive – 80GB

Option for 64GB solid state drive

Full size keyboard – backlit

Weight – 3.0lbs

Thickness – 0.16″

1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo

Optional 99$ optical drive


802.11n Wifi

5 hour battery life

Disable the Dock in Apple OS X Tiger

Many people find that they simply don’t have enough screen real estate on their MacBooks, and prefer to use application launchers such as Apple’s own Spotlight, or the third party applications QuickSilver and launchbar.

There are two ways to remove the Dock from OS X tiger – one easy, the other a more manual approach.

We’ll start with the hard one, since it’s better to understand what’s going on behind the scenes. If this simply doesn’t interest you and you’d rather move on – rest assured that scripting the hard part is just as safe, and works in a similar manner.

On to the hard part:

  • The first step is to move the dock from /System/Library/CoreServices so that it won’t be launched on startup as it is normally. This is a bit hackish, but I’ve yet to get anything else working properly.
  • Since the dock will no longer be called at startup as it is missing from the usual cave it hides out in, we’ll need to make the Dock start up from it’s new location when we log in. This can easily be accomplished by dragging from its new hiding place to your startup items (found in the “accounts” system preference pane).
  • Since the idea here is to get rid of the Dock, we’ll need to close it after it is run on login. The easiest way to do this is to make an Applescript that terminates the dock for you, and have it run just after the Dock is launched on startup. This allows the Dock to start, get it’s act in gear, then disappear.
  • Now you can proceed with your normal modus operandi and utilize QuickSilver or whatever other application launcher that you prefer to use instead of the Dock.

The easier way to do all of this is to leverage a piece of software written by No Name Scriptware called Dock Death. Dock Death is an AppleScript that performs the same task we outlined above, and also gives you a back out strategy in case you really need to get the Dock back.

Both of these solutions will effectively disable Expose since it a Dock process. If you can’t live without Expose, you may want to try using the freeware Onyx, which allows you to move the Dock to the top of the screen and hide it, effectively eliminating it from view. Though this is a bit low-tech in that it doesn’t really disable the Dock, for some people it gets the job done.