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-   -   How to steer technical illiterate to the right Windows accessible folder? (

Weapon S 03-26-2014 12:36 PM

How to steer technical illiterate to the right Windows accessible folder?
  • I have a Windows+Debian dual-boot.
  • I have people who mindlessly store all files about in the first folder presented to them, and they are on a shared computer.
  • They still don't really understand why they can't reach some files (i.e. the ones stored in Linux' home folder) under Windows.

Today I ran into troubles, because they filled the home partition up to the last byte. They run into inconveniences, because they can't locate their files.

(As far as I can think up) a hypothetical ideal solution might be, if I could set the homefolder to the same place as Windows' "My Documents" folder (on a non-default location). I don't think that would be smart, because Debian uses the folder for user-specific application configuration files, and Windows' and Linux' handling of file names and permissions differs.

A slightly less drastic version of that solution would merely remove the entry to the home folder from all file save dialogs and all file-managers. This would probably be more work, if not even completely impossible.

Another ideal option might be educating the users, which would also require to convince them that taking a moment to allocate a place for their files will save them trouble later on. At the moment I have given up on this.

What would you do? Any hints for accomplishing any of the above?

rtmistler 03-26-2014 01:31 PM

I agree that's a quandary. You don't want to place any Linux app files in the Windows My Documents folder, they could inadvertently corrupt or erase those. For mindless Windows users it is best to store those files in the My Documents folder, you can grab those and if you have to do a restore, likely the data files will be OK. Plus there's also the My Music, and Videos to consider.

The question then becomes one of where is the space running out, and what are the actions to be taken in this case? For instance, in Linux you can automount the Windows user location and run a script to move files or copy files. Either case, they run out of space, they do. If they run out of space on Linux or want to see the Linux files via Windows, you can map a drive to the location or create a favorite which allows them to view that section of the drive.

I guess you have to clarify or decide what needs attention first; visibility versus space management.

jefro 03-27-2014 07:39 PM

I get the feeling better file system level permissions would help. Or smarter users?

bcwagne 03-27-2014 10:53 PM

Some sort of obvious link in the /home/$USER folder to 'My Documents' might work, make sure they understand that if they don't go to that folder first, they won't be able to see their files? I don't know. It's a hard problem.

rtmistler 03-28-2014 07:26 AM

Well, to look a bit back at the original post; I think something is missing in the configuration for starters. The statement is that people mindlessly save files in the first folder offered to them.

Well ... Windows and Linux both have the concept of user names and different folder structures "per user".

Windows formerly structured under:
"Documents and Settings"->"user-name"->"My Documents"

Windows 7 moved to:
"Users"->"system-name"->"user-name"->"My Documents"

I don't know what Windows 8 does, but probably something still user-based. And Linux typically does /home/<user-name>.

So firstly, multiple Windows user's can have a drive map or favorites folder set up to point to a partition visible on Linux. I think it's more difficult to have a variety of Linux applications save to specific folders all the time, it may be more possible with a configuration file, if used by given apps. Open Office allows you to specify (and has defaults) for where to look for and save files; which is by default also unique to each user.

So I personally would bound the capabilities of everyone and roll out allowed features and applications so that the dumber users would be limited and the more intelligent users would likely expand on their own. Further, the better users once getting into enough trouble to seek you out, well they'd better understand the explanation about where they went astray. Meanwhile the less capable users would stand a better chance of only having problems of limited boundaries because they'd be only allowed a certain well tested set of capabilities.

The OP hasn't really jumped back in here to clarify or expand on the details of these problems, so hard to say what exact behaviors are the largest problems.

Weapon S 03-29-2014 01:38 PM

(From now on when I say "Home" I mean Linux' home folder, and when I say "My Documents" I mean Window's user folder.)
The situation is the "living-room" PC. I had made a small partition for Home at the end of the disk. GIMP and IRC ran out of disk space, because they write to Home. There's a big partition users can write to all they want; just only space in Home is limited. My idea was to put My Documents and Home both on that big partition, preferably in one location. Hopefully I've explained the situation thoroughly now.

The users can't be bothered with logging in under a separate username. Though actually making their files inaccessible like that could teach them a lesson literally. But they also run into this problem with the partitions only accessible under Windows and Linux, and their solution seems to be: only work in Linux. Making proper accounts might be a viable (educating) solution, if I could make it consistent between 'Dows and 'Nux.

I've thought about putting a link in Home to My Documents. The problem is, they can still put files in Home, while I can't make Home read-only, because programs use it. Or can I? I already have the Desktop read-only. Creation of files in Home for newly installed programs shouldn't be a problem. The only problem would be, if a running program tries to create something new in Home. I'm not sure how many programs do that. Making Home read-only sounds a bit like an oxymoron to me.

jefro 03-29-2014 02:38 PM

Doubt making home read only would help. If all users are under guest account then you might look to the apps they are using and force a default that way. Make their default locations unchangeable.

It might be possible to use metadata to direct copies but I've never attempted it.

John VV 03-29-2014 06:53 PM

Is this Windows 7 with the royally "bleeped up" concept of "Library's"
in that many folders can be displayed as only one
but many "Library's" can share some of the same folders , and that and this makes it hard to find the real location something is
and one can mindlessly just put things anyplace because there is no real easy way to KNOW!!!! where you just saved something

rtmistler 03-31-2014 07:27 AM

GIMP and IRC caused the partition to run out of space? How big is the partition? After all, GIMP is a fixed image editor application, not even movies. IRC last I heard was "Internet Relay Chat", again, not a very space intensive application.

I believe that this is a case of allowing too much license to users at the cost of your headaches and recommend that you limit what they can do and only deploy features which you have proven can be supported without these types of nuisance problems.

Another suggestion is to get a large USB flash drive; I have a 2 TB one and it wasn't very expensive. I would suspect that if persons were storing chat logs, pictures, and documents, even movies; that they would have to go a very far distance to come close to filling that up.

I'd require people to log in with unique names and passwords for both Windows and Linux. Those who couldn't deal with it, would have to live with not being able to use the apps and features they see others using.

I've also found that all users are different, some master the capabilities rapidly and appreciate the new applications made available to them. One added helpful thing there is that for the less capable users; the more capable users can show the lesser ones their ways of doing things, thus reducing your support requirements. Further, sometimes your way is not always the best or easiest to understand way and secondary relation of a capability by someone else may make for a better situation in getting knowledge to someone who takes longer to absorb it.

luvr 04-09-2014 02:18 PM


Originally Posted by Weapon S (Post 5141679)
[...] set the homefolder to the same place as Windows' "My Documents" folder (on a non-default location) [...]

I once set up a dual-boot Windows and Linux computer for people who wanted to access their documents from both systems.

To achieve this goal, I first ensured that the 'fstab' file under Linux included an entry for the Windows partition, such that the Windows partition would be automatically mounted whenever Linux booted.

Then, for each user, I replaced the 'Documents' folder under the Linux user's home folder (i.e., '/home/<username>/Documents') with a soft link to the user's Windows documents folder (which, from Linux's point of view, now sits somewhere under the mount point that I selected for the Windows partition; I'm afraid, though, that I cannot remember exactly what the user's documents folder under Windows is called, or where exactly it is located).

Thus, whenever a user creates a file in her 'Documents' directory under Linux, it actually gets stored into her Windows documents directory. Conversely, any file created into her Windows documents directory, automatically becomes visible under her Linux 'Documents' directory as well. Anything outside of the documents directory under either system, on the other hand, remains specific to that system.

There was one issue with what I had come up with: The Firefox and Thunderbird profiles weren't shared between the two systems. Again, with the help of a few soft links, I succeeded in getting Linux to make use of the profile folders on the Windows partition (though I cannot recall the exact details of this setup right now).

You will have to remember, though, that the directories shared between the two systems will sit on an NTFS file system, and that, consequently, Linux permissions won't work on them. Also, I needed to specify appropriate parameters (that, once more, I cannot remember at this moment) on the 'fstab' entry to make sure that all users could write to the NTFS partition.

If you need more info, then I'm sure I can verify exactly how I set it up again next time I visit them; I unfortunately didn't have the foresight of documenting how I went about the setup.

the dsc 04-13-2014 08:27 PM

I think you can pretty much "take over" a NTFS partition from linux, it does follow standard permissions (vague memories, I don't have any, and didn't have any for a few years). But perhaps they got to be changed from the Window's administrator before anything. And the users themselves shouldn't be Windows' administrators.

Weapon S 04-21-2014 12:45 AM

Thank you for all the suggestions.
The problem is any writable part in the home directory would be misused, especially the top-level. I don't seem to stress the laziness and sloppiness of these people. Even when talking about physical important documents, they show no care whatsoever.
I have now set the user directory write only. No problems except that the desktop takes considerably longer to load. (I suspect it tries to write some log or buffer and then reverts to another location?)

Originally Posted by luvr (Post 5149620)
Also, I needed to specify appropriate parameters (that, once more, I cannot remember at this moment)

I think you'd need to add all the users to a group, and then give full permissions to that group in fstab.

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