[Box Backup] Boxbackup suggestions

Ben Summers boxbackup@fluffy.co.uk
Thu, 29 Jan 2004 20:59:40 +0000

Before I answer some of these suggestions, I should probably explain 
why the project is like it is.

I started this as a proprietary product, not intending to release it to 
the wider world. It only occurred to me a few months ago that open 
sourcing it would be a good plan.

So, I haven't really been terribly worried about documenting all the 
little funny bits that people have encountered, because the packaging 
would take care of all these little things. And besides, *I* know what 
they mean!

Now of course I realise that this isn't ideal for an open source 
project, but I thought getting it out the door would be better than 
nothing -- I am very busy so it would have been a long delay to get 
everything absolutely perfect since I really need to get the basic 
functionality in for my own use. It just wouldn't have got done, and be 
pushed backwards again and again.

And this way I get to know what I really need to address. So far 
everyone has been very helpful.

So, on to the suggestions:

On 29 Jan 2004, at 19:55, Eduardo Alvarenga wrote:

>  - Make bbackupquery accept ftp commands like ls

That one gets me all the time too. I'll pop in an alias.

> /dele

Meaningless -- you can't actually delete anything from the server.

> /get


> /etc

The commands which modify the store are not useful. Either they would 
be undone by bbackupd the next time it scanned the files, or it'd be 
much easier just to let it get on with things.

The basic read and navigation commands are all there -- see 

>  and
>    some switch to show the files in ftp format like:
>   -rwxr-xr-x   1 eduardo  users       2470 Dec 29 21:23 start-backup
>   drwx------  12 eduardo  users       1024 Aug 30 21:13 tct-1.14
>   -rw-r--r--   1 eduardo  users     316852 Jan 21 19:34 tct-1.14.tar.gz
>   -rw-r--r--   1 eduardo  users   12590686 Jan 23 09:26 tct.tar.gz
>   -rw-r--r--   1 eduardo  users    3798856 Dec 27 21:49 terminator.wmv
>  I think it'll be MUCH more easy for begginers to understand it.

Now this is more tricky. The way it works means that attributes would 
have to be dug out of the stored files on the server, and finding the 
size is another huge amount of code. I'm not entirely sure how much 
extra information it gives anyway... this is a tool for assessing the 
state of the store, and the information is shows does give very useful 
information when you want to know what's going on. The actual contents 
and attributes of the files aren't terribly useful.

However, I can see the use of an ftp-like listing, so it's on the list.

>  - Install manpages for each command and develop further documentation.
>  The website's documentation is very fuzzy... I almost got lost on it.
>  The "Exception: RaidFile (2/8)" error is an example.. I simply found
>  nothing about it anywhere. I know "RaidFileException.h" exists an has
>  some information, but it REALLY does not solve my problems.

These were really intended for me. But what I think I will do is have 
something which has a list of exception codes and most common causes, 
and print a suggested cause out when they occur. Better than nothing.

>  If you
>  mind, I could help you with the documentation process (html/man).

Help is always appreciated!

>  - Install useful error messages. The "Exception" errors just get me
>  angry ;-).


>  - Why have you chosen hex format by default?

Constant width, compact representation, and clear display of byte 
boundaries, all very helpful when debugging.

Also, fits in very nicely with my intended use of the system.

>  I think bbstoreaccounts
>  and other tools could be much more easy to use/administer/remember if
>  the account_id could be freely specified. I have 30 servers here, each
>  one of them have it's own name. If I need to connect to them, I simply
>  type ssh USER + it's NAME (easy to remember) and not it's HEX-code
>  (hard do remember, and almost impossible to remember unless you have
>  a internal brain-calculator). Unless you have a VERY real reason for
>  it, I think this is not necessary.

The symbolic name to account number will be done by a management 
system. And in practical terms, if you're using bbackupquery, it will 
get all the info from the config file.

>  - An option to specify the allocation size in Mb or Gb and not only in
>  blocks. (I need a calculator everytime I want to insert/alter any 
> size.
>  This is not cool).

Yes, this should be done. Sort of annoying for me too.

>  - Wrap you source code/documentation in 72/80 columns. It's much more
>  easy to deal with it.

My screen is 1920 pixels wide :-) , and I have an editor which 
soft-wraps my documentation. This I think is explained by the history 
of the project -- things are done to make my life easy. Of course, this 
does not mean to say that I'm not going to make things easier for 
others eventually. This is a learning experience for me.

>  I can forward this email to the list if you want.

I'd be interested in hearing any other experiences. It sounds like it's 
quite an aggravating thing to install and use?