Here’s the short form in geek-speak: Apparently, you can use rsync to keep two computers running Lightroom in harmony. The long version is well, long, and digresses into Deep Vein Thrombosis and Olympic Table-Tennis qualification.
Recently, on a flight back from Chicago, I sat next to a personable gentleman and we conversed at length. He is a survivor of flying-related Deep vein thrombosis, something that everyone middle-aged and up who takes long flights should worry about. Let me put it this way: If you’re on a long flight, either swing an upgrade so you can lift your legs, or get up and walk around every two hours. Just do it. Otherwise you might die.
The reason my interlocutor, whose name I never got, was coming to Vancouver was to chair the 2008 Capilano Trials, a table-tennis tournament via which some Americans and Canadians will qualify for a trip to the Beijing Olympics.
The idea of going to a ping-pong tourney struck my fancy, and I sold it to the family. So this afternoon we trundled off and spent a couple of hours watching elite athletes try for a ticket to China.
I took the K20D and came home with well over a hundred pictures. These average just under 20M apiece, and the notion of stepping through them on my little MacBook to select the handful of keepers is just unthinkable. So I sucked them into the new Mac Pro and holy cow, can that suckah ever run Lightroom. Pretty soon, I had the eight I wanted to keep. Here are two.
The woman facing you in the top photo is Zhang Mo and she earned herself a ticket to Beijing today. The fellow facing you below is Pierre-Luc Hinse and he didn’t (even though he won the match in the picture), but he’ll have another chance on Sunday.
The Problem · I want all my pictures on both the MacBook (from which I blog) and the Pro (on which I plan to edit). Since I ruthlessly throw out everything that isn’t either publishable here or of sentimental value, my entire photo collection is something under 40G in size, so why shouldn’t I always have it with me?
I poked around the Internet and found remarkably little wisdom on how to solve this problem. So, via Twitter, I asked ÜberPhotoGeek James Duncan Davidson what he’d do and he responded “My advice for LR or AP on 2 machines: designate 1 your master. The other is for intermediate work. Migrate in 1 direction only.”
I got depressed, because I want to edit mostly on the Pro but sometimes on the laptop, and I don’t see why this should be hard.
Unix Rules OK ·
So I poked around to see where Lightroom kept things, and discovered that
on the Mac, it’s all under your
Pictures folder. And I note that
OS X is after all Unix, and on Unix everything is a file, and a Lightroom
catalog is an
SQLite database, but dammit, that’s
just files too. And on Unix, there’s this wonderful marvelous
thing called rsync whereby
you can say “Please make this directory on this machine the same as that
directory on that machine and do it really damn efficiently”.
Because I’d set up the Pro with
Assistant, its Lightroom universe and my MacBook’s started out about the
same; after which I’d edited all the ping-pong pictures. So I poked around the
rsync man page and typed this into a Terminal on the laptop:
~/ 513> rsync -avz xenophon.local:Pictures/ Pictures
(Xenophon is the new Mac Pro.)
It ran through those thirty-odd gigabytes in just a few seconds. I’m in love. Well, there were a couple of warnings about this or that, but I decided to ignore them.
Important: For this to work, Lightroom has to be turned off on both machines!
Yak Shaving · First of all, I had to arrange for the computers to have different names. You need “Sharing” under System Preferences. And while you’re there, you need to enable what they call “Remote Login” and I call “ssh”.
Which is pretty well just a yaklet.
So far, this seems to Just Work; the pictures above (edited in LR on the
Pro, exported from LR on
the laptop) are evidence.
Experts will note that the
rsync command above is directional;
rsync-fu is a little stale
but I bet that there’s a way to tell it to just look at both and copy things
both ways to achieve the desired effect, because after all
Tridge is God.
I’m probably going to wake up in a cold sweat in the wee hours tonight when the reason that This Can’t Possibly Work dawns on me. But for now, it all seems to fit together unreasonably well.