Software problems (and rsync failed to set permissions)

I regret that I have little opportunity to work on free software outside my job these days. One of the reasons is that I have been struggling all the time with things that don’t work, a significant part of them being software problems.

Software problems can be categorized into three groups:

  1. User stupidity problems
  2. Software stup deficiencies
  3. Bugs

In the current complex environments it’s often not clear in which of the categories a given problem falls. Nevertheless a problem is a problem and it (sometimes) must be solved or at least a workaround must be found regardless of the cause and all the unknowns.

I’m starting a series of posts about some of the software problems I experience. I have the following reasons to do that:

  • It’s a therapy. Clearly seeing what I waste time on helps me recognize I’m objectively prevented from doing useful things and perhaps find ways how to avoid dealing with less or more useless things.
  • Defining and describing a problem often helps solving it.
  • Some of the problems may be experienced by other users too and the solutions may help them.
  • It’s sort of my documentation of the problems.

Let’s start with something simple today. My backups to external media were breaking due to the following error:

rsync: [generator] failed to set permissions on “…”: Operation not supported (95)

The problem was apparently that symbolic links have normally 777 permissions, but on OpenAFS they have 755. A remedy is to add --no-perms after -a in rsync command line options. That means rsync won’t preserve permissions at all but it is not a big problem for me with that kind of backups and it’s clearly better than failing backups. I’d say this problem falls into category 2.

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