A Weird Imagination

Status of long-running copy

The problem#

When running an incremental backup with rsync with the --progress flag, it often spends lot of time outputting nothing as it scans through many unchanged files. If you think of it before starting the transfer, --info=progress2 or the name2/skip2 --info flags would give more detail, but once the transfer has been going for a while, you probably don't want to cancel and restart it so you can add those flags.

The solution#

The documentation and this StackExchange answer say you can send a SIGVTALRM signal to rsync version 3.2.0+ and it will output its current progress, but that wasn't working for me.

As a workaround, you can use strace to get a running log of which files rsync is looking at, which includes files it skips without actually opening:

strace --attach="$(pidof rsync)" --trace=openat

(If that's not showing anything, try removing the --trace=openat filter and seeing if there's other syscalls with paths to filter on.)

Alternatively, this StackExchange answer suggests a way to see the currently open files including their sizes (including directories but not unchanged files being inspected):

watch lsof -p"$(pidof rsync | tr ' ' ',')"

(The same should work for a recursive cp/mv/rm.)

Similarly, for getting the status of a transfer of a single large file, this answer attempts to read the files cp is reading/writing to give a running percentage of how much it has copied; a similar approach might work for rsync.

The details#

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PulseAudio is what most modern Linux distributions use as a sound server, the part of the sound subsystem that sits between applications and the sound driver supporting features like allowing multiple applications to output sound simultaneously. PulseAudio adds various features not present in other Linux sound servers like per-application volume controls and easily outputting to different audio devices (for instance, using HDMI audio instead of the normal audio jack).

PulseAudio can be controlled using pavucontrol, which is a GUI audio mixer. It shows a volume meter and control for every application producing sound as well as an option to choose which audio device it is outputting to. It additionally lists all of the hardware input and output devices, as you would expect from an audio mixer.

Fixing problems#

Restarting PulseAudio#

If PulseAudio is not working properly, you can restart it by running

$ killall -9 pulseaudio

No, really, that's what Debian's PulseAudio page says to do.

When I initially installed PulseAudio, it didn't have my sound cards listed and just had the default null outuput, making it not very useful. Running that command to restart it fixed it.

Muted devices#

PulseAudio seems to mute my sound card all by itself. Currently, I just go into pavucontrol and unmute it.