This method was phased out 26 Jan 2016

To simplify life for observers, we have developed a tool called autobackup to copy observer data to CD or DVD media. There are two main components: a Tcl/Tk GUI called autobackup.tcl, and a csh script called autobackup.csh.


Autobackup.tcl - tcl/tk GUI

The Autobackup GUI is targeted directly at observers wishing to back up raw Keck data from their "/sdata" disk or disks.

We currently have two autoloaders at Keck.These machines hold up to 120 blank disks, either CD-R or DVD-R disks, and can automatically burn and label data onto one or more of these disks. There is one each in Remote Ops 1 & 2. All observer data backups are done using the autoloader in Remote Ops 1.

The autobackup.tcl GUI is shown below.

Using Autobackup.tcl

  1. Type "autobackup.tcl" in any local xterm or select it from the instrument desktop menu.
  2. Select your directories - Click the checkboxes at the left of your listed directories to mark all your data directories for backup.
  3. Select Number of copies - Check the 1, 2, or 3 copies options. All copies will be labeled identically.
  4. Select Compression - select yes to gzip your data before writing to disk or no to not compress your data. Even on binary FITS files, the "gzip" compression routine can substantially reduce the size of the files. You may select this option if you are trying to fit large data sets onto the smallest possible number of disks. Realize, however, that compression will take some significant amount of extra time.
  5. Select the type of disk - A CD will hold 650 MB of data, while a DVD-R disk will hold up to 4.5 GB. (We are somewhat conservative about the disk capacities to avoid disk overruns.) Make sure you have an appropriate DVD reader at home if you choose DVDs!
  6. Enter text fields - Text for disk label. Four lines of text can be put on the disk(s) as a label. By default three of these lines are already filled in, but you can change any of the text. The size of the text boxes is a rough indication of how much text will fit onto the disk. You can put in more text, but some of it may end up off the edge of the disk. The text will be centered on the disk, not left-justified as in the GUI boxes.
  7. Click "Write" Button - Write the data. The GUI will pass the information on to the shell script, autobackup.csh. In principle, you should be able to go to sleep or do other work while the computer and the autoloader do their thing. If your data will not fit onto one disk, it will automatically be partitioned into disk-sized chunks, and each disk will have another line in the label, saying, e.g., "Disk 1 of 5". Note that this is not "Copy 1"! If you are making three copies of data that fits on five disks, there will be three identical disks reading "Disk 1 or 5", three more labeled "Disk 2 of 5", etc.

The data backup is now in the hands of the shell script, autobackup.csh. The GUI will dissapear and a new xterm will indicate the progress of the data backup. When autobackup.csh has finished, it will pause with a message telling you it is done printed inside the xterm, and waiting for you to hit . The xterm will dissapear, and the GUI will pop up again and allow you to burn more disks, change options, etc. If you are done with the GUI, hitting QUIT will kill it.



autobackup.csh dir1 dir2 dir3 [-n #] [-dvd] [-gzip] [-labelFile filename]

In general these options can be in any order, as long as the values of the "-n" and "-labelFile" options follow these options immediately.



  1. If no label file has been specified, a default one is provided.
  2. If there is either more than one directory, or you are using compression, a scratch disk will be found and a staging directory created.
  3. If you have requested compression, the data files are compressed into the staging directory. Any subdirectory structure is retained.
  4. The data path and options are then sent to the command "data2auto2," which will partition the data into disk-sized chunks if neceesary, and burn and label the disks.
  5. Any temporary staging directories and files are cleaned up.

Retrieving your disks

The disks can be found in either bin 2 or bin 3 of the autoloader in Remote Ops 2. Feel free to rotate the black carousel containing the disks with your hand, but be extremely careful. If the autoloader tries to access the carousel while you are touching it, the carousel may spin around and cause some injury. You may have to pull out a stack of recently written disks to find yours. Other users may also have been backing up to the autoloader. Please handle all disks carefully, and return any disks you don't own to the carousel or to a CD/DVD spindle next to the autoloader. Conversely, if you see a spindle next to the autoloader, you should check there first for your disks. Someone else may have already gone through the output bin(s).

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Autobackup - GUI
Retrieving Disks