Story 2014-10-24 2TNW Friday Distro: Redo Backup & Recovery

Friday Distro: Redo Backup & Recovery

in linux on (#2TNW)
Too many Linux distros out there seem to be pet projects, focused on minor choices of theme and desktop environment. Redo Backup & Recovery is much more focused and is worth a look as a useful and important sysadmin tool. For starters, note they don't even bother to call it a distro: the fact that there's Linux underneath is not the point. But take a closer look and it's obvious that it's the power of Linux that makes this thing possible.

RB&R is simple: you download it and burn it to a disk or USB stick you then use to backup your machines. Boot the machine from your B&R disk, and let it work its magic. RB&R will mount the machine's partitions, and create a backup you can store elsewhere, say on a network share. If that machine ever gets misconfigured, virus infected, or anything else, you can simply restore one of the backups as though it were a bare-metal restore. It's essentially OS-agnostic, permitting sysadmins to backup and restore Windows or Linux machines with equal ease (it's not clear how good its Mac support is though!). It's graphical, auto-configs network shares, and because you make the backup by booting the machine from your disk/USB stick, you don't even have to have login rights on that machine.

The whole thing is a simple 250MB disk image, that gets you a graphical interface based on Openbox. Under the hood, it's simply a clever GPLv3 Perl script that leverages GTK2+ and Glade, plus partclone, which does the block-level disk backup or re-imaging. Partclone supports ext2/3/4, HFS+, reiserfs, reiser4, btrfs, vmfs3/5, xfs, jfs, ufs, ntfs, fat(12/16/32), and exfat.

I like this approach: they don't make much noise about Linux; they just present a useful tool any sysadmin would be grateful to be able to use. It is tightly focused on providing a single service and doesn't get wrapped up in troubles related to inevitable "feature creep". It does one thing, and does it well. I know my openSUSE box has recovery tools built into its YaST management system, but my brief test shows B&R is way easier, user-friendly, and hassle-free. I will be continuing to use it as recovering from an image is way easier and undoes the inevitable trouble I get into by downloading and experimenting with software packages that eventually combine to hose my system. Give it a look for yourself, and sleep a bit easier.
Reply 5 comments

Sounds very interesting (Score: 1)

by on 2014-10-24 11:13 (#2TNY)

I definitely will give it a try.

Awesome distro! (Score: 1)

by on 2014-10-24 14:24 (#2TP1)

I'm so grabbing that. Thanks!

Worth a try (Score: 1)

by on 2014-10-24 14:43 (#2TP3)

Thanks! Good to see a Friday distro

Just another bad Ghost knock-off (Score: 3, Informative)

by on 2014-10-24 15:04 (#2TP4)

"It is simply a front end to partclone". Ugg. I'll be skipping this one. Partclone / Clonezilla are both dumber than Ghost was 20 years ago, and require restoring to identically sized partitions. If you want to image your drive, the CloneZilla CD has that market pretty-well sewn-up, and I don't see why to bother with anything else. At the very least, I'd want more advanced features, like something based on FSArchiver, which is the more capable successor to partclone.

But that's still something you only want for cloning systems like in a lab. It's terribly inefficient for routine backups. You want something that'll do super-fast incremental backups, with deduplication to save disk space and allow numerous backups to coexist for restoring from long previous backups.

I personally found BackupPC unexpectedly impressive. Most all the benefits of rsync, on any Unix or Windows system, even those without rsync installed, wrapped-up in a slick user-interface. Interesting features like the ability to give non-admin users the rights to easily restore old versions of files automatically via the web UI, and a great scheduler with blackout time-blocks, which avoids the need to set exact times ala cron. Instead it is much more flexible to changes (eg. if one system suddenly has a lot more data to backup), and a dogged determination to backup all the systems you told it to, even if it runs out of time or something fails one night (or repeatedly).

Should work great for small companies, or even families with several computers around. For my own more modest, uniform and boring home needs, I find rsync with --link-dest= (like "rsnapshot" does) to an occasionally-on external USB drive a slightly better fit for the time-being. Restoration just requires booting-up with systemrescuecd, recreating the partitions (format & mount to /mnt), running the rsync command in reverse, (rsync -a /dev /mnt/dev, chroot /mnt) then a couple attempts to remember just the right grub incantation... Most often just:

root (hd0,0)
setup (hd0)

And done.

healthy or dead? (Score: 1, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward on 2014-10-29 14:21 (#2TS8)

this looks like it has potential as an easy way for regular office users to create a disk level backup of their pc but it appears that it's not really suitable for this currently as it hasn't seen a release since 2012. No github page with recent changes, no contact or donate information to make things happen faster. Is this project even alive? A user posts in sourceforge(weak) that the recovery doesn't recognize multiple partitions and therefore thoroughly borks the restore. i noticed similar nonsense with clonezilla and it's grub/partition handling on restore. These disk clone guis need to handle disk partitions and bootloaders competently and transparently for end users or else they are more of a liability than anything.