Migrating your media files with the command line

Once you have installed Ubuntu and have it up and running, the next thing you will probably need to do is move your media files to onto it.  Since it is going to be used to serve up your video and audio, it is a great time to look at one of the better features of Linux: Job Control

Job control is the ability to send a command to the “background” so that you can continue to work on other things while it is running.  This can be accomplished primarily through two different ways: the bg command or the ampersand (&)

Say for example you wanted to copy files from an external hard drive to a share directory:

cp /media/external/music /home/shared

Once this command was executed you could stop the job by pressing CTRL-D and then using the bg command to restart it in the background and while leaving you an active command prompt.

Alternatively you could just append an ampersand on the end of the command and it would automatically run in the background:

cp /media/external/music /home/shared &

If you want to see the jobs that are running in the background, just use the jobs command to see any currently running jobs.  You can also use the fg command to bring a job back to the active terminal.

This makes it really easy to copy large directories from the command line without having to wait for the first to finish.  This really is just a fraction of the use you can get from the job management in Linux.  Check out some of these posts to get some more information if you’re interested:


Ubuntu 9.10 Desktop or Server??

The first thing to decide when setting up your Ubuntu system is whether to use the Server or Desktop edition.  At first this seems like a no-brainer: Server is for a computer needing your traditional “server” needs (File and Print Sharing, Web Server, Authentication etc) and Desktop is for your personal everyday machine (Web browsing, Word Processing etc).  It isn’t really that simple though.  Ubuntu isn’t like windows where server and desktop OS’s are completely separate products.  You can configure one to perform exactly the same as the other.  So how do you decide?

Here are some tips:

  1. Decide on your user interface. – Server installs with the basic Linux command line.  While this is great if you know how to work it, and you can manually install a GUI later, it can be daunting for Linux newbies.
  2. Decide what you want to do with it. – Are you looking for something to act as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) Device, or as an everyday web browser?  Do you need maximum performance or do you want to make it look as cool as possible?  Figuring this out and choosing which version has more of these features enabled by default will save you some time later.
  3. Your Level of Comfort – Almost undoubtedly as you get more proficient with Linux you will find yourself using the command line more and more.  Its one of the true strengths of the OS and once learned is often more powerful and faster than its GUI alternatives.  If you are new to Linux or just not that good with the command line yet though, installing the desktop version with its full GUI default is much easier.
  4. Hardware Support – It isn’t really that Server edition has worse support, as eventually it can be made to work.  But I have found that for many average PCs, desktop edition is easier to get initially configure to work correctly.  The utilities needed to install proprietary drivers are much easier than the command line.  (Desktop edition also natively recognized and supported my RAID-5 array while Server would not.)

All in all this, like everything else in the Linux world, is a personal choice.  Having said that it has been my experience that Desktop edition is much easier to set up for a beginner, and you can continue to add more “server-like” features as you grow you Linux knowledge.

Well that’s it for now – check back soon for tips on migrating files over to your new Ubuntu PC.

Ubuntu Home Server

One of my big tech projects right now is getting a home server up and running.  My plan is to use this as a file/streaming media server, as well as a host for VMWare server.  I decided on Ubuntu 9.10 for the operating system.  I have used Linux before but am by no means an expert, so it should be a learning experience.  There are a lot of steps along the way and I will be updating here as I go, hopefully posting some how-to’s to make it easier for anybody else trying to do something similar.