441 - Little-Bits-of-Things-that-are-Cool-(To-Me)

This is an unashamedly geeky post about why I find Linux very useful. It’s essentially because of the little commands. A couple of examples are:

shutdown -h +45

That means “shutdown in forty-five minutes”. Nothing massively useful in itself, but there are occasions where it’s very useful.

The first is when I want to listen to an album I only have in mp3 format when I’m going to sleep. I don’t want the computer staying on and waking me up, but how to get it to switch off without getting up? A quick “shutdown -h +50”, that’s what.

The second is that there is an enforced virus scan at work each week. You can modify the time it happens, but it either means you have to have the scan running when you are working or leave your computer on over night, neither of which is greatly desirable. What I’d love to do is to have the scan start at 6pm on a Wednesday, say, then when I left work I could just enter “shutdown -h +240” and leave the computer doing the scan when I left work, knowing it would switch itself off for most of the night. Of course, I could also use cron for a similar effect, but of course all this comment does is illustrate another great little tool.

rsync -Wavx —delete —safe-links /home/mike /mnt/home_backup/backup

This is the extent of my backup solution; to simply mirror my home directory on a second hard disk. No expensive tools, just a fairly simple command line to do what needs to be done. It works a treat and could also be cron-ified if I wanted to run it every day, week, month or whenever.

I would hasten to say that I don’t think this makes Linux better for anyone other than myself, necessary, or that other operating systems couldn’t with the appropriate tools. The convenience of having them just there for when all I want to do is listen to that album before bed, however, is where the difference lies.

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