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Is there an application or script that will identify all of the distribution/system files?

My ultimate goal is: I would like to automate backups to a secondary/alt sec Linux machine, but I would like to exclude the system files. [Backups would become more efficient] The flow would go something of: [get all files on path /] | grep -v [mounts] | sed -d [system files] > rsync [backupserver]

It appears to me that there would at least be a global list of system/application executables or an application that could generate. I'd find it difficult to believe that the Unix/Linux world doesn't have user data only backup solutions.

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This site relies on users to mark answers as correct. Please mark the below solution as correct if it answered your question. – Daniel Andersson Apr 10 '12 at 10:58
It didn't answer my question. – monksy Apr 10 '12 at 19:12
If you feel that and are still interested in the topic, then try to clarify your question to the point that it can spawn answers that fit you better. I'm not begging for an accept (my answer is what it is and I won't change it) or trying to harass; I'm just trying to encourage people to tie up loose ends. It's an opportunity not least for me to learn something if new answers are generated. An edit with more specific information will bump the question, attract new eyes and be positive for everyone and the site, in my opinion. This also seems to be the most represented view on Meta. – Daniel Andersson Apr 11 '12 at 5:49
Oh cool, no worries. – monksy Apr 11 '12 at 15:58

"System files" is not really a well defined term. It will most probably suffice to just backup

  • /etc - all system wide configuration files (very space efficient; only text files)
  • /home the home directories, including personal configuration files

and if you run web/FTP/database servers and so on, their content as well (for me that means /var/www, /var/ftp and /var/lib/automysqlbackup).

All the files in /usr are probably what you call system files, as well as the other directories in the system. The exception (at least on Debian based systems, and many others as well) are the /usr/local directories which contain programs and other things you have installed outside the package system, which you might want to save (but probably you have the installation files for those programs as well).

Save a list of installed packages for easy reconstruction.

If you use backup software that only copies the portions of the files that have changed (e.g. rsync as you mentioned), the traffic load will be minimal, except for the occasional full backup that you do to make sure everything is in order.

An alternative if you want to be able to quickly restore the entire system is to make complete images, but that's a whole different ball park in space requirements, etc. The abovementioned directories should suffice for a backup.

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System files are basically application binaries, anything installed at the beginning of the machine [since i'm using gentoo, this may be a little easier] Non-system files: User created files, configuration files, etc There are backup services that eliminate the system files and backup only what you can't reinstall, i was wondering about how to do this for linux – monksy Mar 27 '12 at 19:20
Yes, well, the strict directory structure in practice makes this a built-in feature. Backup /etc and /home and you are done, with the caveats I mentioned. The rest should be installable through the package manager or your own installation files (for me, /usr/local holds Matlab, World of Goo, Mathematica and bank ID software. I could have installed them in ~ to make it even easier, but as it stands, I just save the installation files. All settings are in ~ and/or /etc). – Daniel Andersson Mar 27 '12 at 22:46

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