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In Unison

I've been experimenting with Unison on Windows. It's really really good.

Here's the important problem that Unison solves. Given 30Gb of music files on your PC, and 5 Gb of that music on your laptop, how do you sync up the newly bought Kaiser Chiefs and NIN albums from your laptop to the server, sync down Charles Aznavour and The Killers from your server to your laptop, and not end up with a 30Gb+ on both, maybe duplicates, maybe lost files? And without wasting a Saturday morning copying the files back and forth? None of the music players solve this problem and imo apps like iTunes go out of their way to make things difficult for people - Apple seems to think the sum of anyone's needs is getting a computer and an iPod to sync up. Media players are the epitome of software that cannot function above the level of the single device.

Of secondary importance is the fact that Unison can soundly back up and synchronize any data you think is important; like Thunderbird email mboxes or Outlook email PST files, or your entire My Documents folder. I think I'll be evanglising Unison it as a regular back up tool for Windows users I know. Windows owns the mindshare for user-friendliness but when it comes to file management and backups, Linux is easier to work with. In Linux, you have to back up your ~home folder, and maybe some stuff in the /etc folder, adn you're done. On Windows files gets thrown about everywhere; backing things up is hard work, and takes time, assuming you can even figure out what to backup at all. It goes beyond the usual programmer usability mess and descends into on-disk anarchy. I've had bad, very bad experiences with the tools that come with that OS (anyone remember .qic files?). And then there's the registry - the registry is mind-numbingly unsound. Forget the 4 pillars of Longhorn - all MSFT had to do to get me to upgrade was get rid of the Registry.

Nick Carr, referring to an Economist piece, said that customers don't want solutions, they want things, and that softcos are way off beam if they think that can sell in or repackage solutions to consumers in order to offset the revenus loss in enterprise sales. That's true (solutions, off-beam, loss) to a point, and I usually like what Carr has to say, but he's not really considering how difficult it is for users to deal with their media and files today. Right now,the way phones, PVRs, computers, handhelds just don't work together makes life very difficult. And it's only going to get harder as more stuff gets digitized. If you solve data management for customers, I expect they will buy that solution - an EAI cum Data Center solution in a box.


So putting aside the idea of the millions of side-businesses out there for a minute; there are tens of millions of households with an impending data management problem. It's like corporate IT all over again, but this time for the home. Enterprise Application Integration for the rest of us.

Anyway, Unison rocks. Go get it.

September 10, 2005 04:24 PM


Dave Pawson
(September 13, 2005 06:55 AM #)

Bit late for me Bill. I've been grinning for a week
or two now.

I installed subversion on a server and am synching
two linux boxes, a windows desktop and laptop.
All with the greatest of ease!

Sounds like Unison does just the same job!
I'm guessing it will reduce the duplication
that subversion causes?
Certainly worth looking at.

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