I’ve put off installing online backup software for ages. It’s the kind of thing that sits on your TODO list, nagging at you, but for some reason it just always seemed very daunting. At some point a friend of mine recommended a service called CrashPlan. It’s cheap ($6 a month gets you unlimited space for all your home’s computers), and best of all, it supports Windows, Mac, and (gasp!) Linux. The program also allows free offline backup, for example to a dedicated hard drive or another computer on your network. They offer a 30-day trial of their online backup service, which I’m trying right now. So far, I’m thoroughly impressed and will likely buy a year’s subscription when my 30 days are up!

My only gripes have to do with ease-of-use on Linux:

  • The first is with the Linux installation, which basically consisted of a shell script which obviously ran in a geeky terminal window. To be fair, CrashPlan gets major points for even supporting Linux, so this does feel a bit like nitpicking. And, granted, Linux users tend to be significantly less command-line averse, but I’d still prefer to see them offer a more novice-friendly installation option. I have no trouble recommending Ubuntu to the average “grandma” user (web/email/word processing), but this is not something Grandma could install herself. It’s just not up to par with the ease-of-use expected on the more ubiquitous Windows or Mac platforms.
  • The second gripe is with the shortcut (launcher in Ubuntu parlance) for the CrashPlanDesktop GUI configuration tool. The installation added a shortcut to the tool on my desktop, but not one to the Ubuntu Applications menu. Other third-party installations (like Dropbox) have integrated into the standard Ubuntu applications listing, so why doesn’t CrashPlan? Also, after rebooting, the shortcut disappeared and I had to manually re-create it. This was probably a glitch, but the annoyance would have been averted if there had been a shortcut in the Applications menu.

Gripes aside, the installation worked without a hitch. I just chose all the default options and it installed and ran fine. The GUI tool is clean, simple to use and understand, but offers plenty of options to fine-tune the backup to my needs.

For future reference, to recreate the CrashPlanDesktop launcher, just create a new launcher or copy an existing one, open it in a text editor, and replace the contents with the following:

#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open

[Desktop Entry]
Comment[en_US]=CrashPlan Desktop Configuration Tool
Comment=CrashPlan Desktop Configuration Tool

VirtualBox doesn’t make it easy to clone/copy the configured virtual machines and their hard drive image files. To create an exact clone of an existing VM, you have to first clone the .vdi disk image file from the command line. Then you create a new VM with the same configuration, but point it to use the cloned .vdi image instead of the original. You’d think this would be provided as a one-click menu option, but it’s not.

In Ubuntu, the .vdi files are stored in:


and the command to clone a .vdi is:

VBoxManage clonevdi [source .vdi] [new .vdi]

More (and better) info can be found from this article.

Dropbox recently released a new 1.0 client for all platforms with several new features. Particularly, the selective folder syncing would be very helpful for the Ubuntu netbook my wife uses. However, the Dropbox website only offers Linux downloads for the 0.6.7 version. Strange.

A little googling led to this forum discussion, which linked to this forum post and this French-language blog posting. The steps are quite easy, but it’s bothersome that Dropbox hasn’t made this obvious. The download and installation process is seamless for both other platforms.

  1. Stop the Dropbox client to your home folder.
  2. Download the appropriate 1.0.10 linux client for x86 or x86_64.
  3. Rename or delete the ‘.dropbox-dist’ folder (in a terminal at ~, mv .dropbox-dist .dropbox-dist.backup).
  4. Unpack the downloaded client archive (tar zxvf dropbox-lnx.x86-1.0.10.tar.gz).
  5. Restart the Dropbox client from the Ubuntu menu (Applications -> Internet -> Dropbox).

The Dropbox icon should appear in the Ubuntu notification area. The new version (1.0.10) should show in the Preferences window, on the Account tab.

Update 1/31/2011: I installed Dropbox on my new laptop Ubuntu install using the 0.6.7 installer downloaded from the website. After installing, it immediately downloaded an update to the 1.0.20 version. Thanks, Dropbox team.

I prefer the Deluge bit-torrent client over Ubuntu’s default of Transmission, but it’s always been a minor annoyance that Deluge’s icon in the notification area didn’t match the mono-chromatic icons of Ubuntu’s excellent Ambiance theme. Fortunately, numbfall over at deviantart has created a set of deluge icons to compliment this theme.

His instructions are pretty clear, so enjoy!

After upgrading from Ubuntu 10.4 to Ubuntu 10.10, I found that the Android ADT plug-in was not showing up in Eclipse anymore. None of the features were accessible from the Eclipse menus. The “Help -> Install New Software…” dialog would hide the packages when “Hide items that are already installed” was checked, and attempting to re-install gave an “already installed” error message.

Some googling uncovered others with this problem, particularly this helpful post from Sonal. The fix is, basically, to delete the entire configuration directory for eclipse. While a bit heavy-handed for those with complex installations and many installed components, it was fine for me as all I’m doing is Android development. My steps were slightly different from Sonal’s, so here’s a recap:

  1. Exit eclipse if running
  2. Delete (or backup) ~/.eclipse/org.eclipse.platform_3.5.0_155965261
  3. Start eclipse
  4. Open Help -> Install New Software
  5. Add the Eclipse 3.5 Default update site: http://download.eclipse.org/releases/galileo/ (Note that I explicitly installed the WST Server Adapters, though adding the update site may be enough.)
  6. Add the GEF (Graphical Editor Framework) plugin update site: http://download.eclipse.org/tools/gef/updates/releases (I did not explicitly install GEF.)
  7. Add the Google Android ADT plugin update site: https://dl-ssl.google.com/android/eclipse
  8. Install the “Android DDMS” and “Android Development Tools” packages from the Android ADT update site.

Notably, the GEF plugin appears to be new. I don’t recall installing this under Ubuntu 10.4. Also, I believe that if you just add the update sites for the dependancies (WST Server Adapters and GEF), they will be installed automatically when you install the Android ADT packages. No need to hunt them down and install them directly. I haven’t verified this though.

There may be more re-configuration to be done. I’ll update this post with anything I find as it comes up.