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Like Time Machine in Mac OS X. Is it possible?

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migrated from Jan 22 '11 at 21:40

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:O Mac OS X has a time machine? I need to go back and fix a few things... time to go buy a Mac. – Mehrdad Jan 22 '11 at 21:27
(Btw, this is probably a question...) – Mehrdad Jan 22 '11 at 21:27

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, but it depends a bit on what exactly you want to achieve.

  • Incremental backup of the entire system: This is what Time Machine does, and you could do it by using rdiff-backup or duplicity. These tools can do incremental backups to external drives, network storage etc. The most current backup can simply be copied back, and to restore older versions, you'll need a simple shell command. The only "losses of functionality" compared to Time Machine are that some special files can't be handled by those tools, and there is no way to boot a freshly-repaired machine from a rdiff-backup volume like you can do with a Time Machine volume.

  • Recovering from errors made during testing packages: There's etckeeper, a nice tool that stores all changes to /etc into a revision control system of your choice. So, in order to "go back to a system state before $PROGRAM messed up everything", you uninstall the problematic package and use etckeeper to undo all changes to your system configuration.

In both cases, there's no GUI like Time Machine provides.

(Oh, and sorry for not linking to every tool, there's a link limit for new users...)

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How about Back In Time or TimeVault? Back In Time uses rsync and can be scheduled to run automatically. Both tools have a GUI but I don't think either of them does the fancy graphics.

Still might be worth looking into to see if it suits your needs.

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The rsync command supports --link-dest, which creates hard links for files that were already in an earlier backup. Like:


# Mount point of the external disk

date=`date "+%Y%m%d-%H%M%S"`

rsync -aP --link-dest=$latest $HOME/Documents $current

ln -s $current $latest-$date
mv -f $latest-$date $latest

The blog post Time Machine for every Unix out there (not mine) and its comments have many more details, and alternatives such as FlyBack - Apple's Time Machine for Linux.

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