Thursday, 26 August 2010

Remotely obtaining scientific articles through the university library

The library at my university (University of Tromsø) has access to electronic versions of a massive amount of scientific papers, for example through or IEEE Xplore. Anyone on the university network are granted automatic access to the papers on these sites. However, I spend most of my time outside the university network, and therefore I've had to find a way to remotely browse for papers with the library's access.

This could probably be done quite easily using VPN, but unfortunately, I cannot use VPN at my work place. However, the university has a remote desktop service which allows me to log on to a server at the university and use FireFox on that server to browse for papers. In Ubuntu, I use the Terminal Server Client (Applications -> Internet -> Terminal Server Client), enter the server name ( and my university user name and password to connect to the remote desktop (This site at UiO also explains how to do this).

Although the Terminal Server Client has an option for mapping the local drive to the remote server, I was not able to save articles back to my local home area. I'm suspecting that this is due to root access problems. However, I can save the articles to my "home area" on the university net, and transfer them afterwards using SFTP through the twin-panel file explorer Krusader. This site has a short how-to on this. Thus, I can log on to the file server of my university ( and transfer the articles to my local machine. A bit involved, but it works! :-)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Merging several changes into an incomplete svn tree

I have been using Subversion (SVN) for version control of my files for some time now, but recently I was away for half a year without being able to commit changes to the SVN server. In addition, I only save some of the files in my folders, to avoid versioning large binary files. These are some of the things I learned trying to merge all my changes into the incomplete SVN tree:
  • To avoid adding certain files, edit the global-ignores parameter in the svn config file (found under ~/.subversion/ on my Ubuntu installation) to ignore files matching certain patterns, for example *.pdf
  • To update an incomplete folder structure by copying in files from a complete folder structure, use the '-u' switch with the copy command, together with the '-r' switch for recursive copying: cp -u -r compTree inCompTree
  • To check if files or folders in the current folder are versioned (registered in the svn system), use svn status --depth=immediates
  • If you want to restructure the folder tree, it's easier to do this directly in the repository rather than changing the structure of the working copy and then commiting (I used the RabbitVCS repository browser, but it's possible to do via the command line)
  • Finally, it's often better to check out a subfolder of the repository rather than the complete tree - it saves both time and disk space. Example: svn checkout svn://server/Topfolder/Subfolder Subfolder will only check out the "Subfolder" folder and create a local copy.