Friday, December 04, 2009

A Unison replacement with rsync

Before Unison, I used a simple rsync script to synchronize code between my laptop and desktop. If you are interested, it is described here. The script was a simple Python wrapper over the Unix rsync command, just so I didn't have to remember all the switches.

However, the script was overly simplistic, and required some discipline to ensure that files did not get clobbered during syncing. For one, you had to start with a known "clean" state, so anytime you wanted to make a change on your laptop, you would have to download the latest code from the desktop first. Once your changes were done, you would have to remember to upload your changes in.

Having used Unison for a while now, I have gotten used to it telling me that I am about to shoot myself in the foot, rather than having to figure it out for myself. So it was something of a setback when I could not get Unison to work on my Macbook Pro (syncing against a CentOS 5.3 based desktop), but I could not go back to using the old script anymore. I decided to add some smarts to the old program so it behaved similar to Unison.

Challenges

Unison does a bidirectional sync each time it is called. One can simulate this (sort of) using a pair of rsync calls (an upsync and a downsync) using the --update switch so newer files from each side are propagated across to the other.

Relying on the file timestamps has a few problems, though. First we assume that the clocks on both machines are close enough, an assumption which is probably mostly true since most modern machines run ntpd.

Second (and perhaps more importantly), there is a chance of one of your local changes being clobbered if there is a newer version of the same file on the remote machine. This can happen in my case as the files on my remote machine (my desktop) is under CVS control, so if someone just checked in a change to the file I synced earlier and changed, a "cvs update" on the remote machine before doing the next sync will overwrite the changes on the version of the file on my laptop.

There is also the reverse case where your local changes can propagate over a remote change that was previously committed, but doing a "cvs update" before a "cvs commit" should detect that, so I am not worried so much about handling that case.

Script

To handle the local file clobbering problem, in addition to simulating the bidirectional sync with a pair of rsync calls, I also build a snapshot of the files after each sync - the snapshot is really a pickled dictionary (serialized Map for you Java guys) of the MD5 checksums for each files after the sync. On the next sync call, I use the snapshot to find which files have changed locally. Then I do a downsync in --dry-run mode and remove from the downsync file list the files that have changed locally. This prevents files that have changed locally from being overwritten by any remote changes. I then do an upsync in --dry-run mode, and remove from the changed list those files that appear in the upsync list. The remaining files are essentially "conflicts" which the program does not know what to do with, and should defer to my decision (whether to upsync, downsync or ignore).

The user-interface (i.e., the configuration files and console output) are influenced heavily by Unison's, since I wanted to reuse my profiles as much as possible. The configuration files are stored in a .sync_conf directory under the home directory, as named files with key-value pair properties.

A sample script is shown below. It identifies the local and remote root directories for this profile, and specifies the file patterns that should be excluded from the sync.

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local=/Users/sujit/test
remote=spal@localhost:/home/spal/test
excludes=.*,target/*,bin/*

If you look at the ~/.sync_conf directory, you will also find a .dat file for each profile after the first sync is done - this is the snapshot. If you delete the snapshot, then you should make sure that you don't have any outstanding local changes (make copies) and rerun the sync.

As you can figure out from the spal@localhost prefix on the remote key value, I use a local tunnel on my laptop to connect to my desktop over ssh. Since I have to do multiple rsync calls per sync, I needed to set up passwordless ssh to avoid having to type the password in multiple times.

Here is the code - like its previous incarnation, it is written in Python. The script is heavily documented, and I have already briefly described the algorithm above, so it should not be too hard to understand.

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#!/usr/bin/python
# Does a somewhat brittle bi-directional sync. By brittle, I mean that
# this is tailored to my particular use-case rather than a general one.
# My use case is a laptop being sync'd to a desktop at work. The code
# on the desktop is under CVS control (so I can potentially recover
# clobbered files). The script tries to minimize the chance of clobbering
# files on the laptop.
#
import os
import sys
import getopt
import os.path
import cPickle
import hashlib

# CONFIG
CONF_DIR = "/Users/sujit/.sync_conf"
RSYNC_RSH = "ssh -p 9922"
# CONFIG

def usage():
  """
  Print usage information to the console and exits.
  """
  print "Usage: sync.py profile"
  print "       sync.py --list|--help"
  print "--list|-l: list available profiles"
  print "--help|-h: print this message"
  print "profile: name of profile.prf file to use"
  sys.exit(-1)

def list_profiles():
  """ 
  Print list of available profiles to the console and exits to
  the OS. Profiles are stored as .prf files in CONF_DIR.
  """
  print "Available Profiles:"
  for file in os.listdir(CONF_DIR):
    if (file.endswith(".prf")):
      print " ", file
  sys.exit(-1)

def abs_path(dirname, filename):
  """
  Convenience method to construct an absolute path for the given
  directory and file. Similar to the Java File constructor, except
  that this will not resolve properly in Windows systems (I think).
  @param dirname - the name of the directory
  @param filename - the name of the file.
  @return the absolute pathname for the file.
  """
  return os.sep.join([dirname, filename])

def get_configuration(profile):
  """
  Read the configuration off the .prf file into a dictionary
  for programmatic access.
  @param profile - the name of the sync profile.
  @return the dictionary containing configuration key-value pairs.
  """
  conf = {}
  profile_file = open(abs_path(CONF_DIR, profile + ".prf"), 'rb')
  for line in profile_file.readlines():
    (key, value) = line[:-1].split("=")
    conf[key] = value
  profile_file.close()
  return conf

def compute_file_md5_hash(file):
  """
  Computes the MD5 Hash of the named file. To avoid out of memory
  for large files, we read in the file in chunks of 1024 bytes each
  (any multiple of 128 bytes should work fine, since that is MD5's
  internal chunk size) and build up the md5 object.
  @param file - the name of the file to compute MD5 hash of.
  @return the MD5 digest of the file.
  """
  md5 = hashlib.md5()
  f = open(file, 'rb')
  while (True):
    chunk = f.read(1024)
    if (chunk == ""):
      break
    md5.update(chunk)
  f.close()
  return md5.digest()

def compute_md5_hashes(snapshot, dirname, fnames):
  """
  Visit named file and compute its MD5 hash, and store it into the
  snapshot dictionary.
  @param snapshot - a reference to the dictionary.
  @param dirname - the name of the current directory.
  @param fnames - the names of the files in the directory.
  """
  for fname in fnames:
    absname = abs_path(dirname, fname)
    if os.path.isfile(absname):
      snapshot[absname] = compute_file_md5_hash(absname)

def save_snapshot(profile, src):
  """
  Recursively traverse the directory tree rooted in src and compute
  the MD5 hash for each file. Write out the dictionary in pickled
  form to the snapshot (.dat) file.
  @param profile - the name of the sync profile.
  @param src - the local directory root.
  """
  snapshot = {}
  os.path.walk(src, compute_md5_hashes, snapshot)
  snapshot_file = open(abs_path(CONF_DIR, profile + ".dat"), 'wb')
  cPickle.dump(snapshot, snapshot_file, protocol=1)
  snapshot_file.close()

def load_snapshot(profile):
  """
  Loads the snapshot dictionary containing full path names of source
  files with their MD5 hash values from the pickled file.
  @param profile - the name of the sync profile.
  @return the dictionary of path name to MD5 hashes.
  """
  snapshot_file = open(abs_path(CONF_DIR, profile + ".dat"), 'rb')
  snapshot = cPickle.load(snapshot_file)
  snapshot_file.close()
  return snapshot

def check_if_changed(args, dirname, fnames):
  """
  Visits each file and computes the MD5 checksum, then compares it
  with the checksum available in the snapshot. If no checksum exists
  in the snapshot, it is considered to be a new file (ie, created
  since the last sync was done).
  @param args - a tuple containing the snapshot dictionary and the
             set of changed files so far.
  @param dirname - the name of the current directory.
  @param fnames - the names of the files in the directory.
  """
  (snapshot, changed_files) = args
  for fname in fnames:
    absname = abs_path(dirname, fname)
    try:
      orig_md5 = snapshot[absname]
      new_md5 = compute_file_md5_hash(absname)
      if (orig_md5 != new_md5):
        changed_files.add(absname)
    except KeyError:
      continue
    except TypeError:
      continue

def get_changed_since_sync(profile, src):
  """
  Computes a set of local file names which changed since the last time
  the sync was run. This is to prevent clobbering of local files by
  remote files containing a newer timestamp. The method walks the
  directory tree rooted in src and computes the checksum of each file
  in it, comparing it to the checksum from the snapshot. If the checksum
  differs, then it is written to the changed_files set.
  @param profile - the name of the sync profile.
  @param src - the local directory root.
  @return - a (possibly empty) set of changed file names, relative to
            the src directory.
  """
  snapshot = load_snapshot(profile)
  changed_files = set()
  os.path.walk(src, check_if_changed, (snapshot, changed_files))
  return map(lambda x: x.replace(src + os.sep, ""), changed_files)

def run_rsync_command(profile, src, dest, conf, force, files=[]):
  """ 
  Generate the rsync command for the OS to run based on input parameters.
  The output of the OS command is filtered to extract the files that
  are affected and a list of file names is returned.
  @param profile - the name of the sync profile.
  @param src - the local root.
  @param dest - the remote root.
  @param conf - a reference to the configuration dictionary.
  @param force - if set to false, rsync will be run in --dry-run mode,
                 ie, no files will be transferred.
  @param files - if provided, only the files in the list will be synced.
  @return a list of files affected.
  """
  # set up the basic command (we just add things to it for different
  # cases)
  command = " ".join(["rsync",
      "" if force else "--dry-run",
      "--cvs-exclude",
      " ".join(map(lambda x: "--exclude=" + x, conf["excludes"].split(","))),
      "--delete",
      "--update",
      "--compress",
      "-rave",
      "'" + RSYNC_RSH + "'"
  ])
  from_file_name = ""
  if (len(files) > 0):
    # create a text file and use --files-from parameter to only
    # sync files in the files-from file
    from_file_name = abs_path(CONF_DIR, profile + ".list")
    filelist = open(from_file_name, 'wb')
    for file in files:
      filelist.write(file.replace(conf["local"] + os.sep, "") + os.linesep)
    filelist.flush()
    filelist.close()
    command = " ".join([command,
      "--files-from=" + from_file_name, src + "/", dest])
  else:
    command = " ".join([command, src + "/", dest])
  # run the command
  result = []
  for line in os.popen(command):
    if (len(line.strip()) == 0 or
        line.find("file list") > -1 or
        line.find("total size") > -1 or
        (line.find("sent") > -1 and line.find("received") > -1)):
       continue
    result.append(line[:-1])
  if (len(from_file_name) > 0 and os.path.exists(from_file_name)):
    os.remove(from_file_name)
  return result

def bidirectional_sync(profile, src, dest, conf):
  """
  The algorithm consists of multiple rsync commands. Inline comments
  describe this in more detail. These checks are meant to prevent
  clobbering of local changes. The set of files that do not have a
  conflict (in either direction) are presented to the user for
  approval and two rsyncs are done. Then the conflicts are presented
  one by one. In most cases, the user should choose [u]psync.
  @param profile - the name of the sync profile. At the end of the
  sync operation, a snapshot of the current sync is stored.
  @param src - the local root.
  @param dest - the remote root.
  @param conf - the sync configuration.
  """
  # first find the local changes since the last sync. If
  # there is no .dat file, then ignore this step
  changed_since_sync = set()
  if (os.path.exists(abs_path(CONF_DIR, profile + ".dat"))):
    changed_since_sync = get_changed_since_sync(profile, src)
  # then do a dry-run of a downsync to get remote files to sync
  remote_changes = run_rsync_command(profile, dest, src, conf, False)
  # downsync only the files which are NOT in the changed_since_sync list.
  # To do this, we partition the remote_changes list into two sets
  non_conflicts, conflicts = [], []
  for remote_change in remote_changes:
    if (remote_change in changed_since_sync):
      conflicts.append(remote_change)
    else:
      non_conflicts.append(remote_change)
  remote_changes = []
  remote_changes.extend(non_conflicts)
  # do a dry-run of the upsync to get local files to upload
  local_changes = run_rsync_command(profile, src, dest, conf, False)
  # remove from conflicts that appear in changed_since_sync
  for local_change in local_changes:
    if (local_change in conflicts):
      conflicts.remove(local_change)
  # merge remote_ok and changed_since_sync, with the appropriate signage
  for remote_change in remote_changes:
    print "L<--R", remote_change
  for local_change in local_changes:
    print "L-->R", local_change
  if (len(remote_changes) + len(local_changes) > 0):
    yorn = raw_input("Is this OK [y/n/q]? ")
    if (yorn == 'y' or yorn == 'Y'):
      # do the rsync
      run_rsync_command(profile, src, dest, conf, True, local_changes)
      run_rsync_command(profile, dest, src, conf, True, remote_changes)
    elif (yorn == "q" or yorn == "Q" or yorn == "n" or yorn == "N"):
      return
  # lastly, take care of the conflicts on a per-file basis
  for conflict in conflicts:
    conflict_list = []
    action = raw_input("L<X>R " + conflict + " [u/d/n/q]? ")
    if (action == "u" or action == "U"):
      conflict_list.append(conflict)
      run_rsync_command(profile, src, dest, conf, True, conflict_list)
    elif (action == 'd' or action == 'D'):
      conflict_list.append(conflict)
      run_rsync_command(profile, dest, src, conf, True, conflict_list)
    elif (action == 'n' or action == 'N'):
      continue
    else:
      continue
  save_snapshot(profile, src)

def main():
  """
  This is how we are called. See usage() or call the script with the
  --help option for more information.
  """
  if (len(sys.argv) == 1):
    usage()
  (opts, args) = getopt.getopt(sys.argv[1:], "lh", ["list", "help"])
  for option, argval in opts:
    if (option in ("-h", "--help")):
      usage()
    elif (option in ("-l", "--list")):
      list_profiles()
  profile = sys.argv[1]
  # read the profile file
  conf = get_configuration(profile)
  # do the bidirectional sync
  bidirectional_sync(profile, conf["local"], conf["remote"], conf)

if (__name__ == "__main__"):
  main()

Usage

To get the list of profiles already available, type sync.py --list. To add or edit a profile, you have to go to the ~/.sync_conf directory and create or edit the profiles .prf file. This is actually simpler (copy an existing .prf and modify it) than doing it via a GUI.

A sample run is shown below. As you can see, it correctly detects changes on both systems. I have also tested the situation where a remote change is newer than a corresponding local change, and it successfully detects the conflict and allows me to upsync or downsync as I see fit.

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sujit@cyclone:~$ sync.py test
L<--R ./
L<--R tunnel-indexer.prf
L-->R ./
L-->R tunnel-util.prf
Is this OK [y/n/q]? y
sujit@cyclone:~$

The script is obviously not a Unison replacement, but it works for me. I probably would start using Unison again if it became available, but until it is, this script should suffice.

7 comments (moderated to prevent spam):

web design company india said...

Your article is very good.I like it very much.

Jeremy Ross said...

Sounds like a creative solution. But I don't get why you could get Unison running on your MBP.

Sujit Pal said...

Thanks Jeremy. I ended up downgrading Unison from 2.35 (I think) that I was using to sync between my Centos 5.x desktop to my Ubuntu 9.x(?) notebook to 2.13 which has been working for a while. But the script was useful for a while, until I figured out the downgraded versions to use. Version 2.13 lacks quite a few features that I used in 2.35 - I missed them right after I made the transition, but I can't remember them now.

Not sure if the latest Unison versions are usable with MBP. Are they? What are you using?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this script, but I have got a problem:
rsync: link_stat "/test_remote/deleting test2" failed: No such file or directory (2)
My rsync version is 3.08.
Any help appreciated.

Sujit Pal said...

As I mentioned above, I moved back to using Unison (a lower version which worked fine on Mac OSX), so I haven't been maintaining this script anymore...

However, the problem here may be the space in the filename "deleting test2". You may want to try renaming the file to "deleting_test2" or something. Or if you are trying to replicate Unison behavior, you may was well use Unison instead.

shovo shake said...

GSCopy Pro v6.0 (RoboCopy Alternative) with Open File Agent
GSCopyPro is a single command-line tool (CLI) that can copy, replicate and move files from one folder to another. This folder can be on the same machine/ server or another server elsewhere. What makes GSCopyPro stand out from other competitors is the fact it works on 32-bit as well as 64-bit systems and has no restrictions. It can easily be scheduled to run as a scheduled task and fully automated. GSCopyPro also comes with an open file agent which can copy files that are locked/ opened by other processes. This feature is supported in all windows versions from widows XP/ 2003 and later.
Go To:>> http://www.gurusquad.com/GSCOPYPRO

Sujit Pal said...

Thanks shovo, I guess the GSCopy Pro tool could be used for automatic (batch) syncing. I did notice that its Windows only and not free ($30).