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I installed Unison to keep /home on my desktop and laptop synchronized. I am very happy with it, but I had some trouble getting it to work the way I wanted to. I wanted it to preserve permissions and ownership across my two systems, and this is not its default functionality. Here are some tips:

  • Install Unison on both systems.
  • Make sure that the user names, user numbers, group names, and group numbers are the same on both systems for any user or group who might own a file which you might synchronize. Edit /etc/group and /etc/passwd for this.
  • Create a preferences file for each synchronization profile which you want to preserve ownership and permissions. The first one will be the default profile, called “default.prf” Put default.prf in “/root/.unison/ ” on the machine which will be initiating the synchronization. It’s contents should be:
        # Unison preferences file
        owner = true
        group = true
        perms = -1
  • Run unison as root so that you have the necessary privileges to copy and edit files of any user.

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