Grsync – A Simple GUI to Help You Use ‘rsync’ Easily [Linux]

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One of the many reasons syncing solutions like Dropbox are so popular is due to the fact that they are intelligent enough to know which files are already present on the server and other computer; and only transfer new and changed files. For example, you can copy and paste your Dropbox folder to a totally separate location or a new computer and then link up your Dropbox account to that folder. Dropbox will recognize that the files are all the same and won’t waste bandwidth transferring all the files back and forth.

Recently I was using FTP for a project that involved frequent updates to the server. Maintaining a list of all the files which were modified to transfer them via FTP soon became a problem.

There were options like setting up the archive bit and then use a script to automate the process but that would have required fair bit of testing before I could really use it with confidence. Luckily, I could SSH into the server and use the rsync command.

Soon, it was obvious why geek’s love it. At the core level, rsync is a fancy ‘file copy’ utility available as a command on most Linux systems. As opposed to some of the other command line titles, rsync has a pretty steep learning curve. With a host of options and things that you can use to modify your Linux rsync configuration, it is hard to initially know which are the best for the task in hand. A look at the rsync manual page is enough to dazzle a newbie starting out with the tool.

linux rsync configuration

Perhaps that is the reason why a number of GUI’s exist for Rrync. Grsync is a GUI front end to rsync for your Gnome desktop. You can install Grsync by issuing the following command in Terminal:

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sudo apt-get install grsync

Once installed, you will find Grsync listed under Applications > System tools. Go ahead and run it. The GUI is fairly basic and does a nice job of separating basic options that you are likely to use most often with rsync and the advanced options that help you tweak and customize rsync’s behavior to suit your needs.

linux rsync configuration

First off, you need to create a session. You can add and delete sessions easily. A session will help you retain all the settings including the source and destination folders so that you can quickly come back to it and the settings will be there as it is.

linux rsync gui

The option labels refer to the various switches that are available when using Grsync. While the option labels try to do the best to explain what is what, you will need to refer to the manual occasionally. Hover over any label and a tool tip pops up displaying the corresponding rsync option that the checkbox will invoke.

rsync linux gui

In addition, Grsync offers some extra options as well. For instance, you can run other commands just before Grsync invokes rsync or after rsync has completed. You can defer rsync execution if a command returns an error. These options are excellent if you want to transfer files to and from an external device or network location that is not always present or mounted.

Grsync is an excellent tool that makes it easier to manage your Linux rsync configuration without reading the 3000+ lines manual page or without learning it the hard way by making mistakes.

Are you an rsync fan? Achieved something clever using rsync? We would love to hear about it.

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