Subject: Re: [coallesced replies] Re: how to create 21,780 new fr
From: Rob Helmer <>
Date: Sat, 9 Nov 2002 00:43:29 -0800

On Fri, Nov 08, 2002 at 09:03:13PM -0800, Nick Jennings wrote:
>  Excuse me if I'm mistaken, but I think the solution Tom has outlined
>  is a bit more "integrated" than a linux distribution. In that all
>  of the installation, configuration, maintnence, and security updates
>  are done by the service provider, and the user does not have to worry
>  about this. Correct?
>  Coupled  together with the fact that this is, what I assume to be
>  a service aimed at end users (i.e. workstations). Allot of packages
>  and problem areas can be automatically excluded from the realm of
>  discussion as far as technical support.

I'm pretty interested in this kind of stuff personally ( the
workstation I'm writing this from is netbooted from my server,
I'd love to set up a filesystem like Coda or Intermezzo to
sync my local hardware though and run it that way instead,
because it sucks when the server goes down. This is rare,
but still annoying. My session is generally ok when
the server comes back up, although remote sessions
and session to the server are dropped ).

Technically, I believe this is workable. You may want to
have users using a locally caching network filesystem
on their desktops, but have them sync against something
that is more the form factor of a DSL modem: high capacity, 
redundant laptop-size hard drives would fit in this physical

This device could sync to the ISP's network periodically,
and store all the user's data. It also acts as a router/firewall,
even provide services to the outside if desired (HTTP/email/etc).

It should act at least as an outgoing mail server, that
would help network traffic out on the ISP's servers.

This way, it provides a service many people want/need
on their DSL/cable modem/etc. anyway, plus it provides
some redundancy and a good centralized place to stick 
something like a tape backup device. It could be
upgraded to support more drives/workstations through
a good modular design.

If the connection between this device and the user is
severed, Coda/Intermezzo/etc. takes care of it on
the local network, so there's no perceived loss
of anything but network connectivity ( this is
usually the bane of netbooted machines ).

If a hard drive blows out, the device and the 
desktop try to send a message to the ISP and 
the user is indicated with something like a big,
flashing red LED.

This device can be synced using rsync or something else
that is not really time critical like a network file
system is, but highly effecient ( rsync can diff binaries 
and just transfer the difference ). 

The ability to recover from a failed sync without
unduly affecting the user is also key. Checksums
can be used effectively here, and the user's data
needs to never be put at risk if this happens.

The device doesn't need to touch the user directories 
or temp space, meaning that the user's data 
does not have to live on a remote server unless 
the user elects to, for remote backup purposes, or
maybe to be able to easily sync with mobile devices
and/or remote desktops. This could be done through
a web interface ( or any GUI interface connected to )
the device, on a per file/directory basis.

Many businesses and individuals are very sensitive
to remote companies storing the kind of very
confidential/personal data on a remote server,
no matter what the benefit is. Stressing a 
one-way transfer with the option of a two-way
transfer ( with appropriate privacy agreements )
would be awesome.

Rob Helmer