Tag Archives: Linux

Helpful Hint – Transferring Data Between Machines

I work as a software team lead supporting a GIS toolkit for Windows, Linux, and Sparc Solaris machines. We often need to transfer large (>4GB) chunks of files between machines of different types, say Windows PC and Solaris workstations. These machines are not always networked together so you can’t always use ftp or another copy protocol to get the job done. The best way I’ve found to solve this problem is to use a USB drive to transfer the data as described below.

  1. Copy the data off your USB drive to a temporary backup location
  2. Reformat the USB drive as one FAT32 partition consisting of 1/4 or 1/5 of the drive and a NTFS partition that spans the rest of the drive.
  3. Copy your backed up data back onto the NTFS portion of the newly formatted drive.

The size of the FAT32 partition depends on the amount of data you will need to transfer between different machine types at a time. We have mostly 500GB USB drives so we format 100GB as FAT32 and the other 400 or so GB as NTFS. Adjust as you see fit.

Many people know (but sometimes forget) that almost all major modern operating systems support FAT32 out of the box. This includes all flavors of Windows, Mac OS-X, Linux, the PS3, and more. So the simple procedure above gives you a chunk of storage that all major operating systems can read and write out of the box while retaining most of the drive formatted as NTFS, which is a superior file system but sometimes requires extra drivers on non-Windows operating systems. Whenever you need to copy from one machine type to another, just copy the data onto the FAT32 partition of your USB drive, connect it to the target computer, and just copy the data over. The primary reason not to format your whole drive as FAT32 is that FAT32 limits file size to 4GB, so if you have files larger than about 4GB, you’ll need to break them into smaller pieces before you copy them to the FAT32 partition and reassemble them later. There are tools for doing this (e.g. http://www.jaist.ac.jp/~hoangle/filesj/ ), but I’ve never found it necessary to use one.

If you don’t have a USB drive or otherwise have a need for very secure data storage, I highly recommend the Aegis Padlock drives from Apricorn. These drives support up to 256 bit AES encryption with a keypad built into them, so there is no software installation needed to use the drives. We’ve had 15 or more of the 500GB version for more than a year and are starting to get the 750GB version, and we’ve had no issues at all with them. Best of all, the drives are less than $200 each, which is a very low price for such a great drive.


Aegis Padlock Drives – http://www.apricorn.com/products/hardware-encrypted-drives/apricorn-padlock-256-bit-aes-encrypted-usb-drive.html

File splitter and recombiner – http://www.jaist.ac.jp/~hoangle/filesj/


Ralink RT2561/RT61 802.11g on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

I purchased two Edimax Ralink RT2561/RT61 802.11g PCI cards a year or so ago to get our older PC desktops onto our wireless network with both Windows and Linux. I’ve since become almost completely disgusted with Windows (thanks to Vista) and am replacing Windows with Ubuntu or Red Hat Linux on our remaining  PCs.

Device driver support has traditionally been a weakness for Linux because many hardware manufacturers didn’t bother to support non-Windows operating systems and didn’t want to help open source projects create drivers to support their products. Thankfully that is changing and most manufacturers are beginning to offer Linux drivers for their devices. For the last five or ten years, there have been a number of public efforts to build robust wireless support into Linux and these have improved the wireless driver situation, but wireless networking chipsets can be pretty challenging to get working through reverse engineering and many would-be Linux wireless users have still been left out in the cold. This deficiency is one of only a few big remaining obstacles to a Linux distribution that installs and works out of the box as well as (or better than) Windows.

Anyway, true to form, I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on an HP desktop today and all went very well except that the wireless card didn’t work out of the box. Running lspci reported that i have a Ralink RT2561/RT61 802.11g PCI wireless chipset in that machine. I looked on the Ubuntu forums (a great resource for help of all sorts by the way) and found a lot of people with the same issue but no definitive solutions for Ubuntu 9.04. Poking around on the forums and on the wider net, I put together a solution that worked for me. I’ve laid out the steps to my solution below.

1. Go to the Linux support page on Ralink’s web site and download the drivers for the RT2561/RT61 chipset. I grabbed these drivers.

2. Copy the drivers to your Ubuntu 9.04 machine.

3. Extract the drivers using Ubuntu’s built in compression manager. The resulting folder will be named something like “2009_0123_RT61_Linux_STA_v1.1.2.3”.

4. Open a terminal and navigate to the Module directory under the 2009_0123_RT61_Linux_STA_v1.1.2.3 directory.

5. Type “make” to build the driver module. You should see a lot of warnings but no errors flash by on the screen. This is normal.

6. Type “sudo make install” to install the module you just built. Type in your superuser password when you are prompted. You will see a bunch of stuff flash by on the screen, including some warnings but hopefully no errors. Your new drivers should now be installed.

7. Reboot your Ubuntu machine. When it finishes restarting, you should see a wireless networking icon on the status bar at the top of the screen. Click on this, pick the network to join, and type in your security key (if one is required). After a few moments, you should be connected to your wireless network.

The above steps worked for me and I’m connected to a WPA/PSK encrypted wireless network. I hope these steps work for you but if you still have problems after following them, leave me a comment and I’ll try to help you.  Wireless support is much improved in Linux and connecting to a wireless network will soon be as easy (or easier) as it is in Windows.


Ubuntu Forums

Linux support page on Ralink’s web site

Ralink RT2561/RT61 Linux Drivers