In praise of #TimeMachine and #Grsync for #Linux Backup

One crucial file containing early work on my book was corrupted today in the move over from my old MacBook to my new Asus Typewriter. After a few seconds of horror I remembered that I had a Time Machine backup of the Mac’s contents. I plugged the backup hard drive in, fired up Time Machine and restored the file. Time Machine is such a good application that it’s almost a good reason to buy a Mac. But was there anything on Linux that worked that easily?

Searching brought up four likely candidates, all seemingly inspired by Apple Time Machine: FlyBack, Back in Time or TimeVault and Grsync.

I couldn’t get FlyBack, Back in Time or TimeVault to install, there were ‘missing dependencies’, your experience may vary, but this is something you sometimes come across when trying out Linux software. These problems are often fairly easy to overcome, with searching and crossed fingers, but for backup and not to waste any writing time I didn’t want to have to bodge something only to regret it later.


So, to the rescue came the visually unglamorous but perfect Grsync by Piero Orsoni. It installed from the Mint Package Manager and ran out of the box. Phew.

I’ve yet to set Grsync up with an external hard drive but it looks to have almost exactly the functionality of Time Machine, so I’m hopeful.


Mapping & Organising with #TreeSheets #mindmap

TreeSheets is a brilliant concept, beautifully executed. If you are on Linux or Windows (beta on Mac) and use mind mapping or note taking software, TreeSheets is astonishing and well worth a long look.

TreeSheets has, in one morning, taken over from Kabikaboo as my main creative out-liner and planner for long-form writing. It is almost exhilarating to find a tool that works in such a way, that suits one’s mind and thought processes.

Try it.

#LinuxMint flavoured #Asus typewriter

My 17″ MacBook is too big and valuable to carry around all the time, and it’s too uncomfortable to use sitting up in bed. So I started looking for a small, lightweight notebook computer for use as a typewriter. I wanted good battery life and a nice keyboard for as little money as possible–the usual nirvana of most computer users.

I settled on the Asus 200E. It was the right price and is capable of running Linux, this being important because, as a long time Mac user, my favourite operating system is Linux Mint.

I’m using Haroopad to write this post. Haroopad is a Markdown document processor that I’m a huge fan of – it looks good, works well, and has all the functions a casual writer with a blog could possibly need, and much more beside.

For longer writing I use Lyx; for organisation I like Kabikaboo; notes and links I keep in Simplenote which I access with nvPY, and I sometimes go back to using Scrivener for organising research. (I have a Mac licence but the official/unnofficial Linux version works well in Mint).
The final piece of software I rely on is a pomodoro timer that sits in the computer toolbar, ticking away and helping me write. This applet version by Greg Freeman is excellent.

I can’t sing the praises of either the Asus, or Linux Mint too highly. As a team they work together as if they came out of a factory as a Minty Asus Typewriter.

Comment if you have any questions about setting your Asus up like this, or writing on a Mint flavoured typewriter.

#WordPress, Hosted and #Indieweb

A new blog and site, running on WordPress software but hosted elsewhere, to give me better control of my words, pictures, online identity and data, which is not an option when using content and identity silos such as Twitter, Facebook et al; that’s the intent of IndieWeb, and one of the main purposes of this new site. I’m trying out the IndieWeb possibilities and seeing if I can get it to work outside of new social publishing platforms/software such as Known, which is well worth an indielook.

It hasn’t been easy so far and I don’t see it working entirely as intended for a while yet, because trying to do anything outside of the rails provided by someone else – Twitter, Facebook et al – is a cooperative activity, and I do so like to give it my best try on my own first – then cooperatively put things right second. There is  hosting to arrange, WordPress to install and setup, plugins (various) to puzzle over, and generally just trying to grock how lots of odd, non silo things work together – that cooperation I was talking about.

So if you find this post or if it appears on Twitter via Bridgy and my brief mention piques your interest, then take a look at the IndieWeb Principles, because whatever the concerns that brought you here: privacy, control, independence, democracy or idle interest, they are all a part of the larger struggle taking place all over the world. More later.

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