Monthly Archives: December 2014

Backing up Windows User’s to Folders to a Linux File Server

Robust File Copy for Windows

robocopy.exe available as part of rktools <-download page, can be used to copy files across the network to a Linux machine into a folder setup using Samba.

The DOS batch file below is called serverbackup.bat on my machine. It can start the Linux server using wolcmd <-download page, from and will copy a users folder to a folder on the server and creates a log file C:\tools\backup.log, then it shuts down the Windows PC with a 120 second delay. This delay is mostly there for testing. If the robocopy command goes belly up, the PC will try to jump right to the shutdown, which makes troubleshooting difficult. So leaving a delay is helpful as one can abort a shutdown by executing…

shutdown /a

…from the command line in Windows to stop the machine from shutting down.

I had to review how robocopy worked before deploying it in a backup script and I found an exact example of what I was looking for on Jacob Surland’s photography blog Caught in Pixels. I reviewed his post How to create a backup script using Robocopy before writing the serverbackup.bat script. I have the script downloadable here named serverbackup.bat, rename and modify as needed.

REM Wake Server, if it is already on, no harm done. It takes about 17 secs for server to start so REM robocopy will get an error and should keep retrying
REM run Depicus Wake on Lan from Command Line. Validated, Works!
 wolcmd yourmacaddr localserveripaddr 9
REM Copy User folder to \files\user on server via Samba links
 REM /MIR = purge files from dest. that do not exists in source
 REM /M Copy Archiveable files & reset attribute - not using this yet!!!
 REM /XA:SH exclude system and hidden important for user space
 REM /FFT fixes timing up for LINUX assumes FAT file times ( 2 sec granularity)
robocopy "C:\Documents and Settings\Erick_2" \\UBUNTUSERVER\Erick_Backup /MIR /XA:SH /XJ /FFT /W:1 /R:5 /LOG:C:\tools\backup.log
REM Shutdown PC when backups are done
shutdown -s -f -t 120

So far it works….


Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools aka rktools

Depicus wolcmd download page

How to create a backup script using Robocopy


Creating a Bootable USB Drive

A bootable USB works great, it can be very helpful at times. And it is now so easy to create a bootable USB drive with a Linux Distro of your choice. The bootable USB stick works like the Live CD but with the advantage of persistence. Persistence means you can load programs on the USB drive, unlike the Live DVD. Plus settings are remembered. It also means that you can load tools on it to help rescue a broken computer, Windows or Linux. I have rescued many a PC (Windows) by booting using Linux and copying files off and rescuing them. Or you can replace bad files directly. It is like carrying  a “computer” that you can keep in your pocket and plug into a PC and have it boot right into an environment you have set up for your self. Just be aware that certain PC’s that run Windows 8 try to block the ability to boot off of external devices. You have to go into the BIOS and switch off or over ride this behavior of the so called boot protection. It usually requires one to enter a 4 digit code when you leave the BIOS. Some PC’s flash this briefly, too fast to see in my opinion.

I installed Linux Mint XFCE 32bit on a USB drive recently. XFCE mostly for the fact that XFCE is light and will run on just about any PC, 32 bit will run on both 32 and 64 bit machines. Mint because I haven’t tried it yet and a bootable USB drive would make a good test drive, especially since I can do a lot more than I can with just the Live CD. The USB drive I bought for this was off of eBay, I opted for a USB 3.0 device for the speed when a machine has USB 3.0.

Linux command line using dd

Linux as well using dd to copy from the iso to the usb drive, make sure you know where the drive is mounted when doing this via the command line. Use sudo fdisk -l to list all of your mount points. Alternatively you can use  lsblk and you will see mounted and unmounted devices.

See the sdb1 below all of the info about sda1 ( hard drive )….

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
 /dev/sda1   *           1        3648    29296875    7  HPFS/NTFS
 /dev/sda2            3648        9729    48850529+   5  Extended
 /dev/sda5            9668        9729      497983+  82  Linux swap / Solaris
 /dev/sda6            3648        9667    48352256   83  Linux
Partition table entries are not in disk order
Disk /dev/sdb: 16.1 GB, 16079781888 bytes
 256 heads, 9 sectors/track, 13631 cylinders
 Units = cylinders of 2304 * 512 = 1179648 bytes
 Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
 Disk identifier: 0xc3072e18
Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
 /dev/sdb1   *           8       13631    15694808    7  HPFS/NTFS


To burn ISO to sdb1 for example…

sudo dd if=~/Desktop/linuxmint.iso of=/dev/sdb1 oflag=direct bs=1048576

oflag=direct may not always work, leave it out if the copy fails. For more on doing this from Linux see the link below.

Mounting USB Drive from the Linux Command Line

First use fdisk -l or lsblk to find the location of the drive. Then for example to mount a usb drive at /dev/sdc1 to /mnt/sdc1 use…

 sudo mount /dev/sdc1 /mnt/sdc1

You can choose a mountpoint other than mnt, Linux can mount a drive to just about any folder you create. That is the beauty of it over lettered drives like Windows uses.

Universal USB Installer

The Universal USB Installer allows you to do all of this from Windows,

How to create a bootable Linux Mint USB drive using Windows…

 Test Drive

I have tried the drive on a fast machine with USB 3.0. Dell quad core 2.4GHz, 8GB RAM. It does boot fast, not as fast as a hard drive but very reasonable. I was able to stream video and watch TV with it, play DVD’s and adjust the screen saver NOT to come on.

A mom and her son watch the mushroom cloud after an atomic test 75 miles away, Las Vegas , 1953.

A mom and her son watch the mushroom cloud after an atomic test 75 miles away, Las Vegas , 1953.
A mom and her son watch the mushroom cloud after
an atomic test 75 miles away, Las Vegas , 1953.



I’d love to have seen a nuke go off, from a safe distance of course. The scientist Richard Feynman was the only one at the Trinity test to view it in full glory without eye shielding. He figured sitting in a car the glass would not let the dangerous UV rays pass though, which is true. I read about this in the great book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, about the Manhattan Project by Richard Rhodes. Speaking of good books about Richard Feynman’s adventures, Tuva or Bust by Ralph Leighton. It is one of the best books I have read out of the hundreds I have read.

Now that there is no more above ground testing. The best I can do is visit the  National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, NM and the Bradbury Science Museum a window into the Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM. The Bradbury Musuem was seen in one of the early episodes of Breaking Bad as a meet up spot. After these museums, it would only be appropriate to drive up to Santa Fe and visit art museums as well, being just a short drive away. Someday I will make it to beautiful New Mexico and see the sights.

Richard Feynman TED talk

TED has a series of videos that feature Richard Feynman. In these videos he takes normal everyday things that we take for granted and explores them using science to bring out aspects that we may not have thought of. He does it in a way that makes it understandable for anyone. This talk is a stitched together series of short video interviews that essential is a posthumous TED talk featuring Richard Feynman.

Richard Feynman TED talk

Atomic Art

As an aside, I have actually done art that features an atomic bomb. This is why I would be interested in both the nuclear museums and the art museums in New Mexico! This piece represents the style of art that I have taken a liking to working in. I start in pencil and sometimes even thickening and darkening the work with pen or marker. Then I scan the piece in and work on the color and detail of bringing in different elements such as the background by using the GIMP editor. Essentially the piece is made up of different parts that are merged together in a final image. The sky, tower and ground were all created independently and merged.


Atomic Bomb Test Tower
Atomic Bomb Test Tower