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Apple's "Time Machine" Now For Linux... Sort Of

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  • Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:44AM (#21267533) Homepage Journal
    I have not used Leopard - so this is a real question, not a snarky response. My understanding was that a large part of what makes the whole Time Machine work and worthwhile is the interface. So if you don't have that, isn't it just another backup tool? Let me reiterate - this isn't a rhetorical question. Is doing the same thing without the interface sufficient or is it missing the point?
    • Not the interface (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thornburg (264444) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:49AM (#21267643)
      IMO, it is not the _interface_ that is cool about Time Machine, but the ease of use and the fact that it is fully automatic.

      I didn't RTFA, so I don't know if this "Time Machine for Linux" implementation is as easy to use or not, but the real thing that makes Time Machine cool is that even my mother can use it.

      The Ars Technica article about Leopard has lots of very cool details about Time Machine in it, including how it works. (It uses hard-links, including hard-links to directories, so in each and every time-stamped folder on the backup drive, you have a *FULL* copy of your HDD at that time (minus anything you excluded from the backups). Read that portion of the Ars Technica article if you want answers to questions about it.
      • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:17AM (#21268043) Journal
        IMO, it is not the _interface_ that is cool about Time Machine, but the ease of use and the fact that it is fully automatic.

        What's the difference? The interface is how you use software. If it's easy to use, it has a good interface.
        • Re:Not the interface (Score:4, Informative)

          by BobPaul (710574) * on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @01:05PM (#21269827) Journal
          The interface is the goofy 3d zooming through space view. The ease of use and he's referring to is that the incremental backups that are stored all appear like full backups from a file system perspective.

          One can set it up once with the goofy 3d zooming thingy and then it'll happen automatically in the background. Need a file that you know was good a week ago? In term, type "cp /mnt/backup/11-01-07/path/to/file/file ~/" etc. Or browse to it in the finder. Or use the goofy 3d zooming thingy.

          Most backup solutions require you use their software to restore from backup. If I interpreted the parent right, Leopard doesn't.
          • by jav1231 (539129) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @01:33PM (#21270211)
            It's not just a goofy-3d-zooming-thingy. You can zoom through space, find the image you want, then drag-n-drop items right through the goofy-3d-zooming-thingy. That makes it a cool-as-shit-goofy-3d-zooming-thingy that's also functional. BTW: tell your Mom to type "cp /mnt/backup/11-01-07/path/to/file/file ~/" and she'll probably wash your mouth out with soap! Tell her to find what she deleted and drag it to her desktop and Mommy will bake you brownies! Mmmmm...brownies!
            • by Emetophobe (878584) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @05:39PM (#21273799)

              That makes it a cool-as-shit-goofy-3d-zooming-thingy that's also functional.

              It's a UNIX system! I know this!

      • Re:Not the interface (Score:5, Informative)

        by MouseR (3264) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:30AM (#21268269) Homepage
        Yeah. There's more to Time Machine than just a one-off backup of your data. TM aggregates changes and you can roll back to any point in time.

        Think of it as CVS. It tages backup times but actually only copies new data as it's checked in.

        Also, TM is not confined to the Finder per say. if you're in Address Book and lost a contact, type in the filter string to locate it. Still can't find it? Right there from Address Book, hit Time Machine and Address Book will be served with backed-up address book data, filtering on the fly, as you go back in time until you find what you've been looking for.

        Same thing for anything spotlight-able.

        So, yeah, it's got a pretty interface, but TM goes way beyon just file/backup management.
        • Re:Not the interface (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:06PM (#21268895)
          Too long have I sat by and watched a great phrase be abused:

          ...Also, TM is not confined to the Finder per say. if you're in Address Book and lost a contact, type in the filter string to locate it. Still...
          It's PER SE, goddamnit! And it means "intrinsically!" You saying "TM is not confined to the Finder per se" would imply that either it IS somehow confined to finder (but not intrinsically) or you just like to use big-person words you don't understand. Please! Think about what you're saying!
      • Re:Not the interface (Score:5, Informative)

        by slashflood (697891) <flowNO@SPAMhowflow.com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:32AM (#21268293) Homepage Journal

        It uses hard-links, including hard-links to directories, so in each and every time-stamped folder on the backup drive, you have a *FULL* copy of your HDD at that time (minus anything you excluded from the backups
        This is exactly how BackupPC [sourceforge.net] works! The interface isn't as fancy as Time Machine (because it's web based), but even the workflow is the same. It is fully automated and you don't have to touch anything. As soon as your notebook is connected to the BackupPC server, it starts to make an incremental backup. The restore is as simple as selecting the date, the directory and clicking on a button.
        • by bestinshow (985111) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:34PM (#21269319)
          That's great if you know the date you want to restore too.

          Time Machine's ability to simply browse backwards through time in the folder, whilst still having the folder functionality usable is far beyond BackupPC. Indeed I bet there are many times that you just want to do this, you don't want to restore the file or the folder as it was then, you just want to quickly glance inside the file as it was.

          There's nothing amazingly clever about Time Machine, but it is Apple "Getting It Right(tm)" interface-wise (excluding silly starfield, etc) and functionality-wise.
          • Re:Not the interface (Score:4, Informative)

            by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @03:26PM (#21271967)
            Time Machine's ability to simply browse backwards through time in the folder, whilst still having the folder functionality usable is far beyond BackupPC.

            I agree it is not just Backup software.

            However, this is ALSO why 'previous versions' in Vista is more than a snapshot/backup interface as well. In Vista you can view folders as they exist at any previous time and even drag and drop the folder or files you want from the folder at a specific time in history.

            Time Machine = 3D Interface of Files/Folders
            Vista = Timeline List of Files/Folders

            Time Machine = Uncompressed Backups to External Drive
            Vista = Compressed Backups ANYWHERE + File Version Snapshots on main Hard Drive + Works on Servers and across networks (ie Can use Previous Versions on Folders/Files you have access to on Servers or other computers, and it displays that folder's snapshots and backups.)

            Time Machine = Great Marketing
            Vista = MS's Sucky Marketing

            So Time Machine gets the cool buzz, when Vista is the cooler of the two technologies...
      • by robot_love (1089921) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:57AM (#21268737)

        IMO, it is not the _interface_ that is cool about Time Machine, but the ease of use and the fact that it is fully automatic.

        I didn't RTFA, so I don't know if this "Time Machine for Linux" implementation is as easy to use or not, but the real thing that makes Time Machine cool is that even my mother can use it.


        So it is the interface, then?

        I realize the interface doesn't do the heavy lifting in an application, but I wish the FLOSS crowd would finally clue in to the fact that ease-of-use matters. For example, GnuPG is a way to protect your privacy through encryption, but it only has a CLI. GUIs exist for GnuPG, but their installation is complex. Why do people work on GnuPG? Because privacy is important! But who gives a fuck when only 1% of the population can use it? Thanks for nothing, GnuPG!

        I have no particular bee in my bonnet about GnuPG, it was just the latest FLOSS effort to piss me off. Open-Source software and "Free as in Freedom" are ideas too important to be relegated to the technical elite, but the technical elite's refusal to make their tools easy enough for the rest of us cuts out most of society. You have the cure for cancer but refuse to give it to us because we don't have the time or desire to learn Perl.

        This Linux "Time Machine" sounds cool. Too bad I'll never be able to use it. Bah!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MightyYar (622222)
          I think that you are being too hard on the open source crowd. There are basically two main contributors to open source:
          • Companies
          • Geeks

          Now, the companies are usually trying to sell service contracts to IT departments, so grandma is not in the game plan. Linspire pops to mind as a notable exception. Another is Limewire. Both of those companies arguably sell a pretty usable product for the non-IT person.

          The other group is geeks. Some high percentage of the time, an open source project exists because some dud

          • by the phantom (107624) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:39PM (#21269421) Homepage
            And yet, the FOSS community seems to think that everyone should be using FOSS. You can't have it both ways -- either FOSS is only for geeks and large corporations, in which case it will never catch on with the consumer; or it is for everyone, in which case the geeks advocating FOSS need to make sure it can work for everyone. Otherwise, comments about how everyone ought to be using FOSS are hypocritical.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I find that they aren't even mutually exclusive if you're talking about the same person.

              Many geeks working on FOSS are much more interested in how well something works than how easy it is to get started with. This is why, for quite a long time, Linux was hard to install, but ran well while it was up.

              This goes for UIs also. As a user, I'm much more interested in how well something works once I know how to use it than how steep the learning curve is. To a point, of course -- I still haven't learned TeX.

              So, as
        • by Burz (138833)
          It is largely due to the difference in pro vs. casual development methodologies. They both have their failing in terms of discipline, but the casual crowd lack something ELSE:

          * They are coding to impress/please either A) themselves or B) their coder and sysadmin peers

          * They rarely establish who their audience is (not consciously).

          * The above determines what interface (in the broad sense) types will be honored. In the case of GNU system hackers, the interfaces are CLI and libwhatever APIs. ABIs are shunned p
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by krog (25663) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:04AM (#21267875) Homepage
      Another thing which makes Time Machine so cool is that it is hooked into the filesystem at a low level. Rather than having to inspect the entire directory tree rsync-style, Time Machine uses the FSEvents interface to stay informed of filesystem changes. FSEvents isn't perfect (it actually only records when a directory's contents have changed) but it beats rsync-ish traversal any day.

      In my opinion, without such a method for watching FS changes as they occur (or later, from a log), any hackish solution will fall far short of Time Machine's performance.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Brandon30X (34344)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inotify [wikipedia.org]

        And before that, now obsolete...

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnotify [wikipedia.org]

        -Brandon
        • Re:Question (Score:4, Informative)

          by DHalcyon (804389) <lorenzd AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:39AM (#21268421)
          The tiny difference here is that apples FSEvents is basically a daemon following the fsevents device (OS X equivalent of inotify) all the time keeping a log (directory level, as to not bog everything up with a lot of small changes), so the backup app does not have to run in the background all the time. It also notices when the disk changed while not mounted in OS X (In which case it only tells you _that_ the disk changed, I believe. You still have to figure out what changed, exactly yourself).
      • Re:Question (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Khazunga (176423) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:32AM (#21268305)

        Actually, I have mixed feelings about having a daemon following inotify (fsevents equivalent for linux) in order to backup. My setup uses backuppc [sourceforge.net], which daily rsyncs my disk and backs it up using much the same archival solution that Time Machine uses. The rsync is non-noticeable (and, in my case occurs during working hours). An inotify daemon, on the other hand, could be responding to lots of small requests that produce null results (temp files, disk writes over the same sectors, etc).

        Fine-grained backups may be interesting, but I wouldn't be interested in any kind of performance drag because of it. Daily backups have served me just fine, thanks.

      • FS with snapshotting (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:35AM (#21268365)
        Hmm. My understanding/guess back when I first heard about it was that Time Machine was going to use the snapshotting feature of ZFS. Other Linux filesystems do have this feature. It's new and cool, but it's not ultra-new or ultra-high-tech. And yes, version control has been doing something similar for a long time.
    • by emj (15659) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:07AM (#21267909) Homepage Journal
      It's more of a way to recover your backup tool. So you are right, Time Machine is nothing without the interface. It sucks not being able to recover data easily, and sadly most other tools seems to concentrate on snazy ways to backup, not how to recover.
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dlsmith (993896) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:15AM (#21268021)

      I don't know whether this Linux implementation does something like it, but what I like most about Time Machine isn't the interface. It's the fact that the backup utility takes care of disk management automatically.

      My current backup strategy works something like this:

      1. Set up Retrospect nightly backup scripts.
      2. Happily enjoy the security of having backups for a few weeks.
      3. Wake up in the morning to see an "external disk full" error message.
      4. Procrastinate for weeks while I try to decide whether I'd rather trash the entire archive or find someplace to dump my 80 GB of data (which probably involves making space somewhere, which is always a project).
      5. Finally get fed up with having no backups and just discard the archive.
      6. Return to step 1.

      If I were smart and vigilant, I would catch when the archive reaches about 30 GB, and create a new one then, so that managing older archives could be done in more tractable chunks. If I were rich, I would just buy a number of external drives that I would rotate as they filled up. But I am apparently neither, so I just get stuck in this cycle in which I only have a current backup 1/3 of the time, and older archives are randomly discarded or distributed wherever I can find the space.

      The great thing about Time Machine is that it consistently fills up my disk with the most relevant backup data: current backups at a high frequency, and months-old backups at a low frequency. When space runs out, the oldest data gets thrown away, but the quantum chunk is a diff between backups, not an entire 80 GB archive.

      • dirvish and (my favourite, and the one I've tested) faubackup do this. In the debian package, you just edit the config file for how many days, weeks, months, and/or years of snapshots to keep, pick a (possibly remote) directory to put the backups in, and then add lines to a cron job for each directory to backup. Leave it alone, and whenever something goes wrong, you just go back to the date-labelled dirs and copy the files back.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by herve_masson (104332)
      Whatever the merit of this python gui, comparing it to time machine is far fetched, to say the least...

      I think you're right: the value of time machine lies in its GUI. Much more than in its underlying file copy techniques. Like in any serious backup tool, the interface is _the_ key element. Obviously, data needs to be saved reliably somewhere, but that's something we can do in various ways for a long time.

      An efficient backup/restore GUI is hard to do. This is what Apple has done beautifuly here, and this is
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MasterVidBoi (267096) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:16PM (#21269049)
      You're exactly right. It is missing the point without the interface. The real breakthrough in TM's UI isn't that the user can go retrieve a file as it was last week (with gratuitous 3D effects), but rather that they can go retrieve something that isn't a file.

      What if you deleted that email you really wanted, or made a bad edit to a contact in your address book, or a photo in iPhoto/Picasa? These apps store lots of data in some kind of database. As a geek, you know that you need to find this database, move the current one aside, restore the old one, export the content you want from the app, move the current database back into place, and import the content you just extracted from the old database.

      With TM, Your Mom opens Mail, and presses the TM button. She gets the same 'windows through time' view, listing her mailbox at each checkpoint. She selects the message(s), and hits the restore button, and it gets brought into the current database. She doesn't care how it gets represented on disk.

      See this screenshot: The user isn't browsing files, they are browsing contacts: http://scrap.dasgenie.com/images/017-TimeMachine.png [dasgenie.com]

      TM is implemented as file-based backup (with a few less common twists), but that isn't how the UI presented to the user. Without the UI, it's Yet Another Backup Solution.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jwthompson2 (749521)
      I'm using Time Machine and the ease of setup is great for the non-tech savvy (System Preferences > Time Machine > On/Off and then pick a disk). The interface is what makes it more than just another backup tool, the way you can browse backup sets is unique as far as I'm aware. I'm accustomed to automated backup utilities and on that front Time Machine isn't anything special. The way you can work with the backup sets is really what makes it useful to me.
  • by snark23 (122331) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:46AM (#21267569) Homepage
    ...but how is this different Dirvish [dirvish.org], which has been around for years?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:46AM (#21268535)
      Dirvish looks nice, but has the same problem so many cool Linux tools have. It stops short of being a backup "for the rest of us". An approachable GUI is important to most computer users as well as a "set it and forget" it maintenance cycle.

      However, most importantly hard links on directories were added to the OS so that entire unchanged directory trees would not be reproduced. This significantly reduces the number of files needed on the backup drive.

      Hard to beat the Time Machine setup scenario: 1. Click the big ON button; 2. Pick a disk drive
      Done :)
  • So ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kalidasa (577403) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:46AM (#21267573) Journal
    Like TimeMachine, can this restore multiple versions of the same file? Did you use ZFS? Or is this just a GUI front end for a simple rsync backup?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Lachryma (949694)
      Time Machine does not yet use ZFS.
    • Re:So ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dsginter (104154) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:10AM (#21267951)
      Think of it this way:

      Rsync is to data what duct tape is to... well, everything else: it might not be pretty on a visual basis, but you'll be damned to find a better solution on a bang/buck basis.

      Most geeks are pretty happy with duct tape and rsync. This will be difficult to change because geeks, nearly by definition, can see beauty beneath an ugly fascia.
  • by ThirdPrize (938147)
    what apple users did for backups before version 10.5 of their operating system? I just drag my important files onto an external drive.
    • by tulmad (25666)
      Most of us just dragged our important files to an external drive
      • Most of us just dragged our important files to an external drive

        Yep. The biggest advantages that I see are that you don't have to remember to do it, and that there's one central, (presumably) well-maintained backup solution instead of a million home-rolled automation attempts.

    • by drerwk (695572)
      I've used Retrospect since 1990. Terrific product. So good I haven't had to buy an update for years. Probably why Dantz was bought.
    • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:57AM (#21267755)
      I just drag my important files onto an external drive.

      The whole point is that you don't have to do that, it happens automatically.
      AND it catches all the files that you didn't think were important, but are.
      AND it lets you roll the system back to the state it was in at any given time in the past (hence "time machine").
      AND it takes care of any problems that can happen during backup (like "disk full", "power failure", etc.).
      • by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:21AM (#21268127) Homepage
        I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that most users don't know where their .MBOX files are, or even what they are. But they'll definitely be missed in the event of a crash.

        Or another scenario that's a bit more likely (especially with email inboxes it seems), the mail database gets corrupted, and before you realize it, the automatic backup overwrites the good copy on your backup disk with the corrupt one. I know of a few people this has happened to.

        Time Machine is a very good thing, and I commend Apple for it, especially since their old backup app sucked, and wasn't even included in the OS.

        Now, how about getting network backups to work properly, and patching Time Machine to gracefully deal with large files?
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:47AM (#21267593) Homepage Journal

    We've had backup systems for decades. Even Windows has a more functional system than Leopard by accounts I've read. What Leopard did is make backup and restore sexy to the point that people will actually want to do it.

    "Flyback" is a replacement for, well, I'm not sure what. It's certainly nowhere near Time Machine whose primary innovation was "damn gotta get me that" user-friendliness.

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:47AM (#21267595)
    I hate to sound like a fanboy but...
    Apple did spend many months working on the interface and desing to try to make backups as
    easy as possible... All the time they took was really in design time... A much smaller portion
    was used in actually coding.... (Find files that have been altered from last update -> Copy Said files
    to alternate drive in directory with the date as a name, make note of files that have deleted)

    To Restore data go to the date of backup when data existed merge with previous dates and account for
    deleted files.

    Once selected copy files back to origional drive...

    It really isn't a complex process... And I am not supprised that someone made it for Linux
    within a couple of weeks of Leopard being public...

    Apple did all the design work which was actually the hardest part the programming isn't that hard.
    I would be careful for patent issues though... Apple is a big pattenter... (Espctially after
    Microsoft stole their interface)
    • by ickoonite (639305) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:00AM (#21267817) Homepage
      (Find files that have been altered from last update -> Copy Said files to alternate drive in directory with the date as a name, make note of files that have deleted)

      Trivialising the technical underpinnings of Time Machine is unwise, and plays right into the hands of those who say Apple is all about show and lacks substance. In fact, the way Time Machine knows what files have been modified is really quite elegant and shouldn't be underplayed. I shan't go into the details of it all here, but if you are interested, see the relevant page [arstechnica.com] of John Siracusa's excellent review of 10.5 [arstechnica.com] over at Ars Technica.

      In the meantime, you might like to consider learning how to spell.

      :|
      • Trivializing good software design is unwise. As programmers we go ga-ga over something that we think wow I doubt I can code this easilly, the person who made this musta been really smart. The design process and getting even the simple stuff to work well is actually a lot of work more then you think. Normally as programmers we copy what people do, heck lately for my photoshop work I have been adding reflections because looking at the picture of the reflections I see how to do it in photoshop Copy Layer, F
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thegnu (557446)

      Apple is a big pattenter... (Espctially after Microsoft stole their interface)

      Which they stole from Xerox. Funny. I saw Woz speak, and he stated the following:
      a) they toured Xerox, and saw everything they did, went home, and made it for cheaper
      b) Windows "stole" their interface
      c) The Creative Labs suit about the iPod interface was silly and unfounded

      Hmmm? So any lawsuits AGAINST Apple are silly and unfounded. Those same lawsuits file BY Apple are great and wonderful, huh? Can someone explain this to me

  • by Ydna (32354) * <andrew.sweger@net> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:48AM (#21267621) Homepage
    To make it really work like Leopard's Time Machine, we need a way to create hard linked directories. I mean besides the obvious ones that are made for us. Otherwise you get massive trees of directories containing hard linked files (for those that have not changed).

    It's easier to just use rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sammy baby (14909)
      Heh. Just be careful how you go implementing that, or you could wind up with problems like these [worsethanfailure.com].
  • Ubuntu TimeVault (Score:5, Informative)

    by phoebe (196531) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:49AM (#21267631)
    There's already been work on a Linux Time Machine, just not ready for prime time yet: TimeVault [ubuntu.com].
  • Think I might install this tonight. At the moment I just have a crappy little script that copies my entire home directory onto a backup drive, overwriting anything that has changed.

    Looks like the Hungry Hippo release of Ubuntu will have a new application soon.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:52AM (#21267699) Homepage
    What I'd like to see is a very simple source code control system, built on the same design. Perhaps one that would just serve the needs of a single programmer.

    The essential thing is that it should look like a file system, with direct access to the project directories at any state in development... write access to the current version, read-access to previous versions... directly accessible to any piece of code via the normal file API.

    There should be no need for copying files back and forth from a central repository to a working directory.

    It should be equally friendly to text and binary files. It should not take much disk space to store versions of files that have not changed at all from one project version/label/whatever to the next. It is not necessary or desirable to store just the diffs between text files; in the year 2007 we really can afford the disk space to store an entire new source file even if only a few lines in it have changed.

    It should not rely on some central database that can be a central point of failure if it gets corrupted.

    It should reliably serve both the functions of version control and backup. Bells and whistles in version control are less important than backup. In particular, if it's on an external drive and the CPU fails, you should be able to plug that external drive into a new CPU and go on accessing it immediately.

    To those who work on hundred-engineer projects that need full-bore version control and CASE tools and so forth, peace. I'm not talking about a one-size-fits-all solution. I'm talking about a lightweight, simple, minimalist tool that as far as I know doesn't really exist today.
    • I cannot agree anymore. I've done a lot of searching around (although, maybe not as much as I could have) and I cannot seem to find anything of the sort. I was hoping there was something available in FUSE... but (last I checked) there was not. I am not much of a C/C++ person (HTML and tools pay my bills) although I do know a bit, I wouldn't have much of an idea where to start with something like this.

      Please, if anybody knows of anything that works like this in Linux, please let me know!
    • by ajayrockrock (110281) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:26AM (#21268221) Homepage

      What I'd like to see is a very simple source code control system, built on the same design. Perhaps one that would just serve the needs of a single programmer.


      How about mounting a webdav file system with a subversion backend that has autoversioning turned on? That way, every time you write to the filesystem, SVN will make a new version. I did this for an office file server and installed track to point to the same repository. So now people have a cheap web interface to view revisions of documents.

      http://svnbook.red-bean.com/en/1.2/svn.webdav.autoversioning.html [red-bean.com]

      All the Mac's in the office mount the webdav repo, my linux box mounts it via fuse, and even windows has "web folders". It was kind of a fun project that turned out to be pretty useful.

      --Ajay
    • by hey! (33014)
      Well, sure. But why make something look like a file system. Why not have the file system do this for you, if it is keeping a journal of changes anyway for recovery purposes? Or if you're only journaling metadata, why not use the 30-60% of free space to store old versions of blocks, throwing them out with some variation of LRU?

      Such a system would be useful but it doesn't, in my opinion, take the place of either source code control or backups.

      If you're hard disk fails, you are screwed, so it's not a backu
    • Although what you describe sounds pretty nice and is great since it would have zero learning curve, the best part of your standard source versioning system (svn/cvs) is that you take notes when you commit your changes and your revision #s contain groups of changes.

      Your system would make it difficult to figure out what changes were made at what points in time and what changes should be grouped together.

      It would be nice to be able to roll back to any state of any file in conjunction with svn, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pa-ching (814232)
      Most of your requirements could easily be covered by git (or perhaps another DVCS). It takes very little disk space; doesn't store diffs; has great version control, file integrity checking, and backups; repos are self-contained and easily moved from computer to computer.

      For coding use-cases or the one you mentioned--writable working tree and read-only history--it's perfect. However, there are design tradeoffs in git that may not make it *completely* suitable. Its handling of large binary files is probably a
  • Wombat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've used Wombat [alleft.com] in the past. It's basically a perl wrapper for rsync with a scheduler built in for hardlinked snapshots. Each image is a "full backup".
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:53AM (#21267711)
    "Simple Backup Suite". Not quite Time Machine, but very simple and effective.

    apt-get install sbackup

     
  • Any idea if these guys are working with the Time Vault ( https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TimeVault [ubuntu.com] ) people?
  • by wouterteepe (923706) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:59AM (#21267795)
    Claiming to have created a backuptool "inspired on" time machine obliges one to give some more documentation than... ehm... none. A few things I know about time machine, which are not trivial: Every backup in TM is a fully consistend directory tree for which no special software is needed to consult it. Disk space is saved by using hardlinks on the filesystem in a very delicate way, including hardlinks to directories (!!!). As a result, one can very selectively delete backups without corrupting anything. (e.g., you don't want to know the state 11 am, but do want to know the states at 10 pm and 12 pm? easy facilitated without any special software). TM uses a special feature in Leopard to keep track of modified files and directories, in such a way that TM itself does not have to scan for modified files, but is informed by the OS of modified files. This notification does not even require a deamon process. Now I do believe one can wrap together something which does backups. But standard unix/linux tools don't offer the above facilities - AFAIK. And rsync certainly does not facilitate multiple hardlinks to a directory to be made. Therefore, this shameless plug probably does not offer something similar to time machine. Unless the author also claims that a Trabant is something like a Ferrari.
  • by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:04AM (#21267869) Homepage
    I have had this type of rsync backups for years now on personal computers and servers. There are several scripts floating around the internet that do exactly what Time Machine does. The problem is 1) usability and 2) interface.

    No end-user is going to put an rsync script in their cron jobs and specify in what mounted partition to store it and then later use rsync to restore the specified files. -- if an end user understands at all what I just said of course

    Time Machine's interface is revolutionary. It gives you a way of looking back in time at your own computer and does it in a fancy way consistent with the interface. It does so for any Time Machine enabled application including Mail, Address Book, i*. If you have to restore a piece of mail from backup I doubt you'll know the name of the file it was stored in rsync or any other type of backup let alone knowing how to restore it without removing all the new messages.

    Why did we always have to be bashing users for not creating their backups again? Because it was too difficult and too time consuming to make them. Time Machine takes literally 30 seconds to set up and the rest is automated. That's why people will start making backups. It's not difficult anymore and it's going to save me a lot of headaches.

    Just my 2c.
  • Apple is brilliant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FranTaylor (164577)
    For stimulating the design of the new Linux backup system.

    All linux users should tip their hat to Apple for renewing the interest in better backup solutions.

    This is why free software rules.

    And also why we need companies like Apple who raise the bar.
  • rdiff-backup (Score:3, Informative)

    by JBv (25001) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:09AM (#21267929) Journal
    I use rdiff-backup with a cron job to do backups of my laptop to an external drive. It takes between 20-50 mins to do a daily backup of ~50Gb of data with about 200-700Mb of changed files. The only missing feature would be a "time machine" file browser in konqueror.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by FranTaylor (164577)
      You need to reconsider the use of the word "only" in your description. Time Machine is waaay more than what you have there.
  • by Enahs (1606)
    Give me the following:

    1.) A backup system compatible with rdiff-backup, or at least as simple as rdiff-backup (i.e. the incremental copy, minus one folder, can be the latest snapshot)
    2.) Make it work with gamin, so that backups are automatic
    3.) Make 'thumbs' for files it understands, and store those as well

    END RESULT: Who needs Leopard?
    • Okay, one feature down, only 9999 more to go. I'm sure your Leopard-killer will be ready before the end of the universe.
  • by wumpus188 (657540) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:16AM (#21268027)
    Under Leopard, you can wipe your disk clean, put in Leopard DVD and reboot... one of the first options would be to restore system from Time Machine backup. With this tool, what is the point of including /bin, /usr etc. in the backup if there is no system restore support in Ubuntu installer?
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:20AM (#21268115) Homepage Journal
    One of the things that actually make time machine work well is that OS X keeps a log of every file updated on the system, and when the time machine daemon runs it looks at that log and knows which files to back up(as well as what time to mark them with etc). Now, maybe I'm doing rsync the stupid way, but doesn't rsync have to rescan every file on the system to see if it has changed? If you are backing up large directories that could be a large performance hit....
  • R1Soft! (Score:2, Informative)

    by zeeklancer (1185769)
    rsycn is a bit slow, and I find that it can't cope very well with a large amount of files. The only Linux solution I have found to be anywhere near the capability of TM is R1Softs CDP solution. It is too bad it does not run on Apple, but it does run on Linux and windows. R1Soft does have remote backups which in my opinion makes it a much better solution all together. In any case, I use TM for my Apple boxes and R1Soft for Linux / Windows, rsync is way to slow on any platform. http://r1soft.com/ [r1soft.com] -Zeek
  • Rsnapshot (Score:4, Informative)

    by Urban Garlic (447282) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:33AM (#21268321)
    When I first heard about "time machine", my first thought was that consumer-grade commercial software had finally discovered rsnapshot [rsnapshot.org]. It's packaged for Debian, and available in "sarge" -- that makes it at least three years old.

    Rsnapshot is an rsync-and-hard-links based scheme that also doesn't store duplicate data, and provides nice date-indexed browseable full file trees, much like the way both "time machine" and this flyback gizmo are described.

    I haven't been this excited since AOL re-invented "ytalk"...
  • by SpzToid (869795) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:05PM (#21268877)
    from the website:
    http://www.ext3cow.com/ [ext3cow.com]

    Ext3cow is an open-source, versioning file system based on ext3. It provides a time-shifting interface that allows a real-time and continuous view of the past. This allows users to access their file system as it appeared at any point in time.

    Ext3cow was designed as a platform for regulatory compliance, and has been used to implement secure deletion, authenticated encryption, and incremental authentication. See the publications page for more details.

    Some advantages of ext3cow:

          1.
                  It does not pollute the name space with named versions
          2.
                  It has low storage and performance overhead
          3.
                  It is totally modular, requiring no changes to kernel or VFS interfaces

  • by MrSteve007 (1000823) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:18PM (#21269067)
    I have an honest question that no one seems to have answered. What is so exciting about 'time machine?' It is being extolled as new and groundbreaking, but I don't see much, if any of a difference with the 'previous versions' option within Vista, or 'shadow copy' which can be used in a network environment with XP and server 2003.


    Both of those windows-based solutions, which have been out for quite some time, allow you to restore an individual file or folder from a wide range of dates. My setup backups files at midnight and 9am everyday, and I can any version of a file going back nearly 3 months. If I were to reduce the backups to once daily, 6 months of version changes on each file is plausible.

    example: http://www.steveallwine.com/images/previousversions.jpg [steveallwine.com]

    The only arguement I can find about why Time machine is innovative is comparisons between it and system restore on the PC. Since these are two entirely different functions, I don't understand why its brought up.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phoebusQ (539940)
      1) Time Machine uses the FSEvents daemon to keep overhead to an absolute minimum 2) Time Machine uses file and directory hardlinks to minimize space taken, but provide a complete, usable, identical directory structure to the original 3) How to you do previous versions on a deleted file? 4) Time Machine provides a minimalist, automatic, and "easy-to-use" backup solution that people want to use. Making people want to use backup software is a coup in itself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bar-agent (698856)
      The biggest and most exciting thing to me about Time Machine is the plug-in system. Time Machine itself can just restore files. But the plug-in system looks like it allows the application to extract individual pieces of data from within backed-up files, and to treat a set of files as one unit for browsing purposes. Plus, there's the QuickView tie-in allowing apps to preview the contents of a backup.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @01:44PM (#21270393)

    A number of people have pointed out some of the major deficiencies of this software in comparison to Time Machine. There are a couple of items, however, that no one seems to be mentioning and which I think will have some of the biggest, long term effects. First, Time Machine includes easy APIs so that other programs can access the stored data from within their application. Second, it is included in the standard install so developers can rely upon it being there.

    Why does this matter? Think of all the applications in which versioning would be really nice, but it just isn't available. Your address book, for example can look up old contacts or numbers or addresses. Your development tools can automatically load an older, version of that code you're writing to recover that function you did not think was needed anymore, even if you did not write it to a versioning server. Your video games can take you back to older saved games or versions of characters before you sold that really cool item. Photoshop, Word, OpenOffice, etc. can use it to revert changes to a file all the way back to last month.

    The difference is that while many users will never take the trouble to learn how to use a backup system and properly recover an old version of a file, they might trouble to plug in a Time Machine drive and then use the interface to backed up versions from with their applications. It seems strange that everyone is ignoring the cool new API for developers and concentrating on the integration in the finder, which will probably be the lesser used portion of Time Machine.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ..." -- Isaac Asimov

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