13 Aug 2015

Comments on backing up a Linux laptop.

My primary workhorse right now is an HP Omen running Fedora 22. Thinking and talking about how to restore my work environment from a total failure, I came to the conclusion that there are three primary things that need to be preserved:

Item 1: My entire user directory under /home, since that’s where all my stuff is.

Solution: Crashplan is impressing me - slick commercial-quality UI, completely free for mounted “local” disk backups and peer-to-peer backups through their central broker. Naturally they also offer managed off-site backups for a cost, but they don’t ram it down your throat. I think they’ll be getting some of my business.

Item 2: A list (preferably in Kickstart format) of user-installed software packages, so that I can restore all of the apps I use.

Solution: this is very distro-specific, but dnf (yum’s heir apparent) has a kickstart-friendly report that I will integrate into a once-a-day kickstart generator script:

dnf history userinstalled

Item 3: A snapshot of everything under /etc, which tells the computer how my apps and service should be run.

Solution: I found an awesome utility called etckeeper that turns /etc into a git (or mercurial, or svn) repo and can automatically push changes out to multiple targets. On its own it is nice, but the dnf-etckeeper packages hooks this behavior directly into the package manager - so, every time I run dnf for an update or a new package, my /etc snapshot is updated as well.

Thinking about this now, I realize that for completeness I need to copy /var/spool/cron/* somewhere as well. The only cron job I’m running is the tail-end of an IFTTT hack to gets photos off of my iPhone and into shotwell, but that’s fodder for another post.


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