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I want my time stamps back!


I got this compact flash full of pictures taken over the last week. I want to move them to a permanent storage location on my file server. All I need is simple drag and drop. On the Windows side of the divide, with Windows Explorer:

  1. Enter the card.
  2. Drag the folders from the card to the server.
  3. Start sorting into folders.

Today I tried to do this in Ubuntu, with Nautilus:

  1. Enter the card.
  2. Drag the folders from the card to the server.
  3. Start sorting into folders.

It seemed to work. Until sorting started. My first criterion for sorting is time stamps, which for RAW files that should be read-only is the exact moment when the picture was taken. Since the shots for a panorama are clustered in time, it is easy to blindly sort them – with a script or manually. But my time stamps were gone! I immediately rebooted to Windows.

memory card after Nautilus screwed up my time stamps

Lucky me I had not yet deleted the card and could recover the original files with time stamps.

memory card before Nautilus screwed up my timestamps

I searched the web to see if there was an option to make Nautilus behave the way I want it. After all, this is what I believe most common users need and expect. I found that the issue has already been raised on the Ubuntu mailing list. But I did not find any viable solutions – only workarounds.

I already know a workaround. I can use cp -p or rsync -a – the command line gives me all the control I need. But the workaround for the average user will be: back to Windows!

If this happened to one of my neighbors, his reaction would have been something like:

For those not living in my neighborhood, a short cultural translation.

3 Responses

  1. I see where you’re coming from, and agree it’s another of those small shortcomings in Nautilus.

    For what it’s worth, I prefer to rely on the timestamps in the EXIF instead of the file timestamps.

  2. You can reset the timestamps with dcraw -z (but I agree that nautilus should preserve file attributes by default)

  3. […] to the Gnome usability list two habits that are too much change for me: the way Gnome deals with timestamps when copying files, and the way it deals with […]

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