You’re Only As Good As Your Last Backup

… is a necessary rule of thumb for computer-based knowledge & design workers. But add the lesson of cloud computing:

Backups: If you don't have 3 copies, you aren't serious.

The standard redundancy for cheap cloud storage options is 3 copies. Anything less is reduced redundancy, sold at discount. You should have at least 2 backups, for instance both a home backup disk and a cloud drive or repo.

A big win, when you plan for multiple copies, is that you no longer need any of them to be highly reliable. What matters more is, how fast can you make another copy if one copy goes down?

.Net and Asp.Net on MacOs & Mono instead of Windows (using Visual Studio or JetBrains Rider)

Mono goes a long way in running code written for .Net on Windows. It is all very much easier if you either start with cross-platform in mind, or if you move to .Net Core; but even for existing .Net Framework projects mono can run runs most things including Asp.Net.

Here's my checklist from a couple of years of opening .Net Framework solution files on a Mac and finding they don't build first time.

Most of these require you to edit the .csproj file to make it cross-platform, so a basic grasp of msbuild is very helpful.

  1. For AspNet: inside the PropertyGroup section near the top of the csproj file, add an element:

    <WebProjectOutputDir Condition="$(WebProjectOutputDir) == '' AND $(OS) == 'Unix' ">bin/</WebProjectOutputDir>

    Use this if you get a 'The “KillProcess” task was not given a value for the required parameter “ImagePath” (MSB4044)' error message; or if the build output shows you are trying to create files in an top-level absolute /bin/ path.

  2. For AspNet: Add Condition="'$OS'!='Unix'" to the reference to Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure.dll AND delete the file from the website bin directory.

    <Reference Condition="'$OS'!='Unix'" Include="Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure, Version=1.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=31bf3856ad364e35, processorArchitecture=MSIL">
    <Private>True</Private>
    <HintPath>..\packages\Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure.1.0.0.0\lib\net40\Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure.dll</HintPath>
    </Reference>
  3. For all project types—but, only if you need to use the netCore dotnet build tooling to build an NetFramework project on unix. mono's msbuild does not need this. Add this section somewhere in the csproj file (I put it right at the bottom), to resolve NetFramework4 reference paths:

    <PropertyGroup Condition="$(TargetFramework.StartsWith('net4')) and '$(OS)' == 'Unix'">
    <!-- When compiling .NET SDK 2.0 projects targeting .NET 4.x on Mono using 'dotnet build' you -->
    <!-- have to teach MSBuild where the Mono copy of the reference asssemblies is -->
    <!-- Look in the standard install locations -->
    <BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' == '' AND EXISTS('/Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/Current/lib/mono')">/Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/Current/lib/mono</BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono>
    <BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' == '' AND EXISTS('/usr/lib/mono')">/usr/lib/mono</BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono>
    <BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' == '' AND EXISTS('/usr/local/lib/mono')">/usr/local/lib/mono</BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono>
    <!-- If we found Mono reference assemblies, then use them -->
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net40'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.0-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net45'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.5-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net451'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.5.1-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net452'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.5.2-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net46'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.6-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net461'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.6.1-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net462'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.6.2-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net47'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.7-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net471'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.7.1-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <FrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != '' AND '$(TargetFramework)' == 'net472'">$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)/4.7.2-api</FrameworkPathOverride>
    <EnableFrameworkPathOverride Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != ''">true</EnableFrameworkPathOverride>
    <!-- Add the Facades directory.  Not sure how else to do this. Necessary at least for .NET 4.5 -->
    <AssemblySearchPaths Condition="'$(BaseFrameworkPathOverrideForMono)' != ''">$(FrameworkPathOverride)/Facades;$(AssemblySearchPaths)</AssemblySearchPaths>
    </PropertyGroup>
  4. For projects that have lived through C# evolution from C# 5 to C# 7: You may need to remove duplicate references to e.g. System.ValueTuple. Add Condition="'$(OS)' != 'Unix'" to the reference. This applies to Types that MS put on NuGet.org during the evolution. idk why msbuild builds without complain on Windows but not on Unices.
    Example:

    <Reference Condition="'$(OS)' != 'Unix'" Include="System.ValueTuple, Version=4.0.1.1, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=cc7b13ffcd2ddd51, processorArchitecture=MSIL">
    <HintPath>..\packages\System.ValueTuple.4.3.1\lib\netstandard1.0\System.ValueTuple.dll</HintPath>
    </Reference>
  5. For References to Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestTools.UnitTesting: Add a nuget reference to MSTEST V2 from nuget.org and make it conditional on the OS

    <ItemGroup Condition="'$(OS)' == 'Unix'">
    <Reference Include="MSTest.TestFramework" Version="2.1.1">
    <HintPath>..\packages\MSTest.TestFramework.2.1.2\lib\net45\Microsoft.VisualStudio.TestPlatform.TestFramework.dll</HintPath>
    </Reference>
    <Reference Include="coverlet.collector" Version="1.3.0" >
    <HintPath>..\packages\coverlet.collector.1.3.0\build\netstandard1.0\coverlet.collector.dll</HintPath>
    </Reference>
    </ItemGroup>

    Note this will only get you to a successful build. To run the tests on unix you then have to download and build https://github.com/microsoft/vstest and run it with e.g.
    mono ~/Source/Repos/vstest/artifacts/Debug/net451/ubuntu.18.04-x64/vstest.console.exe --TestAdapterPath:~/Source/Repos/vstest/test/Microsoft.TestPlatform.Common.UnitTests/bin/Debug/net451/ MyTestUnitTestProjectName.dll.

  6. Case Sensitivity & mis-cased references
    Windows programmers are used to a case-insensitive filesystem. So if code or config contains references to files, you may need to correct mismatched casing. Usually a 'FileNotFoundException' will tell you if you have this problem.

  7. The Registry, and other Permissions
    See this post for more: https://www.cafe-encounter.net/p1510/asp-net-mvc4-net-framework-version-4-5-c-razor-template-for-mono-on-mac-and-linux

Using the command line

It is helpful to be somewhat familiar with microsoft docs on MSBuild Concepts since msbuild will be issuing most of your build errors. If you have installed mono then you can run msbuild from the command line with extra diagnostics e.g.

msbuild -v:d >> build.log

you can also run web applications from the command just by running

xsp

from the project directory.

Original Text from 2011

For reasons best not examined too closely I switch between between Mac and PC which, since I earn my crust largely with .Net development, means switching between Visual Studio and MS.Net and MonoDevelop with Mono.

Mono is very impressive, it is not at all a half hearted effort, and it does some stuff that MS haven't done. But when switching environments, there's always the occasional gotcha. Here are some that have got me, and some solutions.

  • Gotcha: Linq Expressions don't work on Mono?
    Solution: Add a reference to System.Core to your project.
  • Question: What version of NUnit is built in to mono?As of Feb 2011, it's nunit 2.4.8.

fish shell quickstart for converting bash scripts

After some years of bash and PowerShell, and some hours of using fish, I've realised that expansion & predictive typeahead are good features in a shell, whereas “be a great programming language” is less important than I thought: because there is no need to write scripts in the language of your shell.

Fish has slicker typeahead and expansions than bash or even PowerShell. But to switch to a fish shell, you do still have to convert your profile & start-up scripts. So here's my quick-start guide for converting bash to fish.

  • Do this first: at the fish prompt type help. Behold! the fish documentation in your browser is much easier to search than man pages are.
  • Calmly accept that fish uses set var value instead of var=value. Roll your eyes if it helps.
  • Use end everywhere that bash has fi, done, esac, braces {} etc. e.g. function definition is done with function ... end. The keywords do and then are redundant everywhere, just remove them. else has a semicolon after it. case requires a leading switch(expr).
  • There is no [[ condition ]] but [ ... ] or test ... work. Type help test to see all the file and numeric tests you expect, such as if [ -f filename ] etc. string and regex conditionals are done with the string match command (see below). You can replace [[ -f this && -z that || -z other ]] with [ -f this -a -z that -o -z other ] but see below for how fish can also replace || and && constructions with or and and statements.
  • But first! type help string to see the marvels of proper built-in string commands.
  • Replace function parameters $*, $1, $2 etc with $argv, $argv[1], $argv[2] etc. If that makes you scowl, then type help argparse. See! That's much better than kludging about in bash.
  • Remove the $ from $(subcommand) leaving just (subcommand). Inside quotes, take the subcommand outside the quote: "Today is $(date)" becomes "Today is "(date). (Recall that quotes in bash & fish don't work at all like quotes in most programming languages. Quote marks are not token delimiters and a"bc"d is a valid single token and is parsed identically to each of abcd , "abcd", abc'd').
  • Replace heredocs with multi-line literal strings and standard piping syntax. However, note that if you pipe or read to a variable, the default multiline behaviour is to split on newline and generate an array. Defeat this by piping through string split0 – see https://fishshell.com/docs/current/index.html#command-substitution

Search-and-replace Script Snippets

Here is my hit-list of things to search and replace to convert a bash shell to fish. These resolved almost all of my issues in converting a few hundred lines of bash script to fish.

FromToNotes
var=valueset var value
export var=valueset -x var value
export -f functionnameredundant.Just remove it
alias abbr='commandstring'(no change)alias syntax is accepted as an abbreviation for a function definition since fish 3
command $(subshell commmand)
command `subshell commmand`
command (subshell command)
OR
command (subshell commmand | string split0)
Just remove the $ but keep the ()

See below for when you want to add string split0
command "$(subshell commmand)"command (subshell command)Remove both the $ and the quotes ""to make this work
if [[ condition ]] ; then this ; else that ; fiif [ condition ] ; this ; else ; that ; endSee below for more on Fish's multine and and or syntax.
if [[ number != number ]] ; then this ; else that ; fiif [ number -ne number ] ; this ; else ; that ; endSee below for more on Fish's multine and and or syntax.
while condition ; do something ; donewhile condition ; something ; end
$*$argv
$1, $2$argv[1], $argv[2]But see help argparse
if [[ testthis =~ substring ]] if string match -q '*substring*' testthisstring match without -r does glob style testing
if [[ testthis =~ regexpattern ]] if string match -rq regexpattern testthisstring match with -r does regex testing
[ guardcondition ] && command
[ guardcondition ] || command
works as isBut see or and and below for when it's more complex
var=${this:-$that}if set -q this ; set var $this ; else ; set var $that ; end
cat > outfile <<< "heredoc"
cat > outfile <<< "multiline … heredoc"
echo "multiline … heredoc" | cat > outfile no heredocs, but multiline strings are fine
NB printf is better than echo for anything complicated, in any shell.
if [[ -z $this && $that=~$pattern ]]if [ -z $this ] ; and string match -rq $pattern $that ;
content=$(curl $url)set content (curl $url | string split0)without the pipe to string split0, content will be split on newlines to an array of lines.

Fish's multine and and or syntax

Fish has a multiline and and or syntax that may be clearer than && and || in both conditionals and guarded commands. It is less terse.

[ condition ]
and do this
or do that

That said, && and || are still valid in commands :

[ condition ] && do this || do that

Other gotchas

  • You may have to read up on how fish does parameter expansion, and especially handling spaces, differently to bash.
  • Pipe & subcommand output to multiline strings or arrays: set x (cat myfile.txt) will set x to an array of the lines of myfile.txt. To keep x as a single multine string, use string split0 : set x (cat myfile.txt | string split0)

Official tips for new fishers:

See the FAQ at https://fishshell.com/docs/3.0/faq.html

(Failing to) Copy a Time Machine Backup to a Network Drive with asr

The Apple support page for copying a Time Machine backup disk doesn't cover the scenario when your new backup target disk is on the network. If you try to do it by hand using cp, rsync, ditto or other, you will likely fail with inscrutable errors.

Using asr may work, but failed for me after 1 ½ days, 500GB, possibly because I had some kind of network disconnected. To rely on a network being reliable for 3 days is to ignore the 8 fallacies of distributed computing, but if your TM backup is small enough this could work.

  1. Use Disk Utility -> File -> New Image -> Blank Image … to create a new sparsebundle disk image on your network drive. The arrowed options must be set correctly (well, you don't have to use sparse bundle but it is allegedly designed specifically for efficient use across a network):

2.

2. Mount the new disk image by double-clicking it, and also attach your existing Time Machine backup drive. Then, use  -> About This Mac -> System Report… -> Hardware/Storage and look in the column BSD Name to find the device names on which your Source and Target volumes are mounted:

3. Turn off Time Machine backup. Usually by unticking “Back Up Automatically” in the Time Machine preferences, if there is no On/Off switch.

4. Then, use asr on the command line to copy the device that hosted the volume to the device hosting the new volume. Use caffeinate at the same time to stop the computer sleeping instead of copying. In my case that was:

sudo caffeinate asr restore --source /dev/disk3 --target /dev/disk4s2 --erase --puppetstrings --allowfragmentedcatalog

I got this output, and after a few seconds had to type y to confirm:

XSTA    start   512 client
XSTA setup
Validating target…done
XSTA metadata
Validating source…done
Erase contents of /dev/disk4s2 (/Volumes/LaCie2019)? [ny]:

The --puppetstrings option means what most of us might call --progress although the output is quite limited.

Expect a speed of about 4 days per terabyte. I don't know why. Watching the Network tab in Activity Monitor I can see that data is rarely going faster than 5MB/s. Even writing to a spinning disk across a 20 year old 100Mbps network should go faster than that. I tried adding --buffers 10 --buffersize 100MB, but that still only got me to about 3 days per terabyte.

Anyway …

For me it failed. Sorry I lost the error message. So I went to to Finder drag-n-drop. The first time this failed after a day; the second it succeeded after 3 days. 🤷‍♂️