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Apple's "Time Machine" Now For Linux... Sort Of 425

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the because-you-can dept.
deander2 writes "Apple's 'Time Machine' is cool, but I use Linux, not MacOSX. So here is a Linux implementation (built off of rsync, of course). No fancy OpenGL, but quite functional none-the-less."
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Apple's "Time Machine" Now For Linux... Sort Of

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  • 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 Ydna (32354) * <andrew AT sweger DOT 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].

  • 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.
  • Wombat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @10:52AM (#21267701)
    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

     
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Re:Question (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @11:41AM (#21268457)
    Time Machine does _not_ use FSEvent, in ordinary Apple fashion, it uses an undocumented internal API that exposes more information than FSEvent.
  • Re:Eh... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:11PM (#21268969)

    Doesn't all backup programs do this?
    If you take "roll back" literally and don't read the rest of his comment, sure. But it's clear from the context that he means temporarily roll back and snag just one little part of the backup. Not only that, but from within any spotlight-enabled application.

    I've seen clumsy interfaces that let you grab a backed up file from within a backup before, but never one that lets you preview - let alone do all this from within other applications.
  • Re:Eh... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Per Abrahamsen (1397) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:31PM (#21269269) Homepage
    The ones I have dealt with have all allowed you to retrieve a single file from within the backup granularity. Not sure what you mean by preview. Sounds like an interface thing.

    The interface has always been horrible though, which kind of reinforces the original posters claim that the new (or at least less common) stuff is in the interface.
  • Re:Not the interface (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:32PM (#21269281)
    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 dude made a tool for himself and then figured that other people might like it. By definition, these tools are going to be directed toward geeks - not laymen. Only when it gets SO bad that even the geeks get pissed off does something actually get done, and so you get projects like Ubuntu and Gnome.

    For the most part, these people are not taking your money, and it's not really that important to them whether or not you decide to use their software. I hate to sound like a Linux zealot, but if you don't like the free tools offered you can either walk, fix it yourself, or pay someone to fix it. You can bitch at the developers, too, but they probably won't care much - and who can blame them? The tool obviously fits their needs.

    Personally, I like Macs because the computer is very polished and usable straight out of the box, but you can drop to a command line and X11 and play with most of the open source world's toys. You can even boot into Linux if you like.
  • Re:Question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jwthompson2 (749521) <james@@@plainprograms...com> on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:41PM (#21269441) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:Eh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ziwcam (766621) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:56PM (#21269699)

    > 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. Doesn't all backup programs do this?
    I would like to clarify this a bit. Say for instance you delete 50 contacts one day, and 25 the next. A week later, you realize you deleted a contact that you needed. Most backup programs would only allow you to rollback the entire address book, re-adding all those contacts (and deleting contacts that you've added since then). Time Machine allows you to LOOK at your address book as you view progressively older backups, then when you find the contact you want to restore, to restore ONLY that contact (not the entire address book).
  • Re:R1Soft! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zeeklancer (1185769) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @01:15PM (#21269971)
    Really, when you get above half a million files rsync starts to choke, and requires a considerable amount of memory, which causes my server to swap out, thus trashing the performance of my server and causing the backups to take much longer than they needed to. With my R1Soft solution I am able to take backups on my busy servers on the hour, with little overhead. On my less buys servers with less power users I am able to take backups every 15 minutes. I think one of the big differences is the deltas are tracked in real time were as rsync will need to re-index on every backup. -Zeek
  • by Burz (138833) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @04:03PM (#21272503) Journal
    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 party because of licensing, but also to a large extent because their audience is unconsciously assumed to be people familiar with linkers and compilers.

    * Press Ctrl-Alt-Bksp in your Linux GUI and watch as all unsaved data is *instantly* oblitterated. GUIs are a nuisance to the Linux crowd because they represent an unwanted commitment (or the suggestion of a commitment they want to avoid). Likewise WRT a graphics subsystem that isn't properly configurable given any reasonable set of usability criteria... if Xfree and Xorg can't write a comprehensive configuration panel themselves, they should at least give others the tools to do so (and the semantically f--ked xorg.conf file is no such tool). Any fool writing for usability would have at least provided an API to have settings changed/validated in memory AND saved to disk by the graphics subsystem itself.

    And just what is a computing 'interface'? It is defined as a commitment to a set of functionality for a particular class of actors (users). But FLOSS coders for the most part are NOT going to commit to end-users or other non-peers.

    The ones that buck this attitude and inherited a lot of professionalism and user-focus from the proprietary world are: Mozilla, OpenOffice, MySQL among others. Ubuntu could qualify, though they aren't my ideal of 'coders'... they have internalized some specific user-focused methodologies.

    Ones that are stereotypically slacking in the FLOSS manner: Gimp, Linux kernel (sorry, that is my honest assessment and I can cite Torvalds' own comments that would support it). KDE and to a bit lesser extent Gnome (although I hate to say so, because Gnome is so technologically awful).

    Recommendations:

    * Learn Rational Unified Process. Particularly the parts that cover documentation of requirements and use cases; continually reviewing/refreshing these is the best discipline for staying audience-focused.

    * Dump the software repository mentality. Repositories/distros are inserting themselves between you and your end-users. You will have to code your stuff with LSB Desktop as a target and include all the rest that the spec doesn't supply, but you will finally be able to realistically distribute apps to end-users independently, on your own, without dependency issues.

    * Re-connect with Personal Computing as a concept. Why were IBM PCs coveted in offices that were bursting with IBM mainframe terminals? Answer: Personal initiative and control for non-experts. Distro/repository culture comes from the computer science lab and server room. The concept of PC platform, a defined and easily navigable space upon which you place third-party products, came from the garage and the backoffice. Apple has a PC platform, and MS does. FLOSS has BSD and Linux distros where a novice programmer cutting her teeth has little chance of quickly and easily sharing her work with classmates and friends (even when they run Linux)... she'd have to devote weeks to fighting with and learning the package manager/dependency tarbaby first.

    * For the OS people: Your graphics and sound subsystems must be refactored before they can meet basic user expectations. Linux *still* does audio-blocking on inexpensive hardware even with ALSA; the architecture of audio mixing must be reworked to never allow blocking unless an app jumps through hoops to do so. Not hearing a softphone ring, or a meeting alarm because of some Flash-laden web pages doesn't cut it... it's UNUSABLE!

    Fixing this w
  • Re:Eh... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaggertipX (547165) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @04:32PM (#21272871) Homepage
    Because as is the case with a lot of things about windows, they don't seem to realize when they have a good thing. They wrote all the good backend code for a great feature, halfassed the UI so that the general populace wouldn't get it or want it, and then hid the entire shebang in the most expensive version of their software. Then again, there I go, thinking that maybe desktop users are MS's customers, as opposed to say - dell and hp.
  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @05:05PM (#21273345)
    This looks to be very very similar to what the new Leopard file system is doing, only leopard seems to keep the changes in a "log" in each folder, where ext3cow makes tagged filenames (if I understand it right, I could be way off on that point). This ext3cow looks like it basically points changed data to the old file with the old data, not overwriting anything, and hides older versions of the incrimental data.

    This will mean that the drive will slowly grow, but the incrimental-down-to-the-filesystem setup means very little extra data use unless you are completely re-building files constantly with completely new data, and snapshotting multiple times a day, or whatever.

    It would be really easy I would think to make a frontend app for ext3cow to do the backups and be just as functional and easy to use as Time Machine.

    Cool beans man!
  • Re:Not the interface (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Americano (920576) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @06:31PM (#21274481)
    From your linked blog:

    With Vista, "We've eclipsed the entire Apple installed in the first five months of sales," Kevin Turner, Microsoft's Chief Operating Officer, told attendees of FAM.

    I find it amusing that sucn an insignificant thorn to MS rates a comparative mention... "We've totally outsold that dinky 5%-of-the-market guy." Why even bring them up or mention them if they're such an insignificant portion of the market?

    even if the Apple user base doubles 3 or 4 times, it would still be irrelevant to MS...
    Let's run some numbers. First, Apple currently has about 6% of the market, based on the most recent numbers I've seen. Second, I'll be generous and assume you meant "even if the Apple user base grows to 3 or 4 times its present size," since what you actually wrote indicated that Apple would grow to 48 or 96% of the market.

    Now, do you *really* think that Microsoft wouldn't take notice if 18% - 24% of the desktop market was owned by Apple? That they wouldn't notice that 1 in 4 or 5 desktops are Macs? I'd humbly submit that if they disregarded that, it would constitute criminal disregard for their fiduciary obligations as a publicly held company!

    No, Macs are not about to take over the world in the next 6 months. But they (or someone else) will manage to do so at some point in the next few years if Microsoft ignores those "insignificant" upstarts that only hold a few percent of the market. Happened to IBM, didn't it?
  • Re:Not the interface (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Thursday November 08, 2007 @03:41AM (#21278867) Journal
    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 a sort of irrelevant example, while the Firefox and Konqueror logos may kind of look like the Explorer or Netscape logos -- all browser logos seem to have a globe in there somehow -- you still are going to be clicking on Firefox, or maybe "Firefox web browser" or "Web browser -- Firefox", and not "Internet Explorer".

    Believe it or not, this actually a problem for some people. But there are all kinds of similar problems -- for instance, The Gimp, for awhile, was about five windows. This works fine if you've got a decent window manager and/or a second monitor / virtual desktop system, but for many people coming from Photoshop, it didn't work at all. (There are other things Photoshop has that Gimp lacks, but I think Gimp was actually more usable on multiple monitors until Photoshop gained the ability to pop out windows. But my memory is fuzzy on that.)

    Apple seems to do a good job of making it visually discoverable, though -- something only rarely seen in FOSS. For instance, I was using WindowMaker for years before I tried OS X, and the window manager certainly existed before I touched it. So when I saw OS X's Dock, I immediately knew what it was. But here's the thing -- so did everyone else, or at least, enough to use it (sort of) without panicing.

    Maybe not as well as they should, of course -- I know far too many Mac users who keep some 20-40 things in their dock, most of them running -- I'm not exaggerating! But OS X knows how to swap, so while it is kind of stupid, it's not critically stupid, like not knowing how to run an app in the first place (could be problematic in WindowMaker).

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