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I work in the graphics department for a real estate brokerage, and we deal with a lot of photos. Agents take the photos, upload them to me, I touch up and standardize the photos, then I add them to an in-house server for future use by the graphics dept.

I'd like to make the "sanitized" photo files available to the agents to use when they want, but I don't want the agents poking around the graphics department's files (things get misplaced, renamed and messed up in a hurry).

What would be perfect is if we could create a read-only "mirror" (correct term?) of that server that could be accessed by the agents as needed, but which wouldn't feed back into our "sanitized" file system.

Edit: I'm looking for an automatic solution... manually posting the files to two separate locations seems like an inelegant solution when working digitally.

Edit: I'm trying to avoid any access barriers to the public (dirty) file system (however it's finally implemented). There are 40-50 real estate agents who need to access these files, half of whom can't reliably download an email attachment.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

It seems you already have a file sharing solution in place, which could be replicated.

All modern operating systems include permissions management with groups. This is a simple task that any entry level IT person should be able to complete without detailed assistance.

Edit 1

If you don't have any authentication or access control in place, how can you realistically expect to prevent them from modifying the files in the first place? Obscuring the fact that they can modify the files does not change the situation.

If you simply want to segregate the storage locations, you can create another place for them to view the files.

Edit 2

Ultimately, I agree entirely with what Kyle recommended regarding providing a high level view to your IT person for his technical recommendation. He's paid to provide technical solutions within the needs of the business.

Without knowing what technologies you currently use it's difficult to provide a recommendation that will be a good fit your your environment.

Generally speaking, sharing files between internal users on a LAN is often best accomplished with CIFS/SMB. (The protocol used by SAMBA and Windows file sharing.) This can be implemented easily between UNIXes and Windows, while providing a less intrusive user experience. I would create a generic "Design" (or whatever department) share, which would be readonly to the entire company and write-only to design. Then there would be the design share only to be used by the design department, which would be read write. Exact roles and access would be defined by how the business operates. Additional controls would have to be implemented for data that has to be treated more securely and this is not an end-all solution but should fit your goals.

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Permissions mgmt sounds like a good way to go, but ideally we wouldn't need any kind of login (everything is handled on our local network only, nothing is of a "sensitive" nature, and a lot of the intended users are highly non-technical). Unless we're able to handle identification by IP address (authorizing only certain machines to write, everyone else to read-only). Does that sound reasonable? – Jason Mar 11 '10 at 19:45
We have authentication in place for the current file system, which we want to keep "clean". We wouldn't necessarily need the "public" file system to stay clean... that they can muddy that all they want... they just need access to the files. My thought was simply that we could have our strict system in place, and it would be backed-up, copied over (however you want to phrase it) to a publicly-accessible server (partition, etc.) that they could go nuts with. – Jason Mar 11 '10 at 20:00
That's why I'm asking... I have three constraints on the ultimate solution (keeps clean files clean, allows agents access to files, files are accessed as easily as possible). Beyond that, I'm open to anything ; ) – Jason Mar 11 '10 at 20:25

You should be able to tell him what you are trying to achieve, and he should be able to tell you what you need. Telling him the specifics of something you don't understand that well, 'Use this software' etc, sounds counter productive to me.

From what you said, my instinct would be to use the exact solution that chris_l recommends as the technical solution. The web server would likely run as a specific user, and that user would have read only access. I like this because it s simple, you could also do the same sort of thing with a content management solution like Drupal. I don't see any reason for the mirror from what you described.

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+1 I hate it when someone non-tech tries to tell me in technical terms what they need. Give me what you want accomplished at the end of the day. – squillman Mar 11 '10 at 19:48
+1 you totally hit the nail on the head. – Warner Mar 11 '10 at 19:49
I usually abide by that philosophy (task-focused as opposed to tech-focused), but I've felt snow-jobbed in the past when I've tried to explain to him what I'm looking for ("We can't do that because of _____"). I'm trying to both confirm that it can be easily done, and have a sense of how it'd best be achieved so I'm not blown off again. – Jason Mar 11 '10 at 19:51
That sounds like a larger issue than filesystem permissions. – Warner Mar 11 '10 at 19:52
Jason: Ya I can understand that, but I think trying to the tech-focused might make it worse. You might need to talk to this persons manager if that is an option. You might also consider taking the task-focused method again but over email, and the if he gives you the can't do it line (when you think he really means won't do it) and then try to find out if what he said is reasonable. – Kyle Brandt Mar 11 '10 at 19:56

Your IT could also set up a simple web server which allows read-only access to the sanitized photos directory. (The web server may of course still require a login by the agents.)

This would make it very platform independent.

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You're looking for a read-only 'share' not a 'mirror'.

Move the sanitized photos to their own folder, and then share that as read-only to the appropriate users.

Then remove their access from the files/folders you don't want them getting at.

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Perhaps you can leverage Gallery to your advantage?

You can use rsync to set up a mirror.

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