CentOS 5.3
I have been tasked with a project of simplifying our media process for new staff and I need some help with ideas on how to achieve this.
I am not a Linux expert and have only been using it for 12 months so appreciate the help.

Stage 1
Currently we are couriered once a month a 220GB drive, install and mount into CRU, then cp * to a dir in an array.
Array dir = /pa/lptp/feb_2011 (i.e ip 192.168.1.7)
We then cp these files to 2 laptops(i.e 192.168.2.11/27) using a rsync command to dir = /pac/ef1.
Question 1
rsync is proving to be unreliable with updating and removing some files, and operator error from cli is causing operational issues,is there a similar command we can use.
I would like to place a launcher from the laptop desktop so it can be completed with GUI. (i have found something in google NFS mount copying to a temp dir on laptop, deleting existing files on laptop dir then copying to location /pac/ef1 - has anyone used or heard of NFS mount?)

Stage 2
Once a week we receive via FTP server updated files that needs to be added to the original media.
Currently this is done in Windows(separate terminal), where we create the update.xml files then Ftp updated files plus update.xml from windows to linux to original dir /pa/lptp/feb_2011 then reload laptops.
Question 2
Is there a linux alternative for creating update.xml files.
The current windows program we input mpu.xml from original media, then place updated weekly files in and it spits us out update.xml file which we can now load to applicable file servers.

Stage 3 - sorry guys and gals I know its getting boring
Ultimately my goal is to have a GUI button on the laptops that when pushed,
A) connects to the array
B) copies content of /pa/lptp/feb_2011 /pac/ef1 deleting all of /pac/ef1 first
C)Another button that connects to FTP server and auto downloads updated files from a specified date
D)Find a Linux program that can create update.xml files

Additional information
Our network has 2 laptops - just CentOS, 1 big monstrosity of a thing = CRU and array(Linux only) and a separate windows terminal.
All talk nicely to each other and all can connect to outside ftp server.
Thanks in advance for your help, any additonal info will be supplied at request.