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I am relatively new to Arch Linux and I really like its rolling-release concept. Now what I want to know is that before I do a system update via pacman -Syu, I want to create a restore point so that should my system update fail, I can go back to the last good state my computer was in before the attempted system update.

This is because once when I did a pacman -Syu on my Arch install, it b0rked my system and wouldn't boot. It happened when I still had minimal to no essential files on my computer so I did a fresh install. But now that I sort of slowly built a system much to my liking, I don't want to reinstall it from scratch and do all the things I have already done again should a system update break it. With a restore point, I can most likely restore my computer without the hassle of reinstalling everything.

So, how so I create, and use, restore points in Arch linux?

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4 Answers 4

The two things I do in Arch is READ BEFORE UPGRADING

and Downgrading Packages. I don't know of any restore point :).

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Arch isn't designed to work like that: it is a rolling release, so you are always going to have to continue to upgrade packages as they are pushed to your repo: the only alternative is to freeze everything.

Having said that, what you are asking can best be managed, within the Arch framework by doing two things:

  1. updating regularly (so that you are only upgrading small numbers of packages at a time) and using the logs in /var/log/pacman.log to provide a list of packages to rollback if something does go wrong.

  2. Not clearing the cache of packages prematurely, or—if you need the space—before you do issue a pacman -Sc or pacman -Scc, then backing up /var/cache/pacman/pkg/ to an external drive so that you have access to older versions if you do need to downgrade a package or packages.

If you are not running the [Testing] repo, then the reality is there is very little in the way of breakage and when it happens it is well-documented. As wojox noted, reading is a prerequisite for maintaining a well-running Arch Linux installation.

For Linux in general, you can use a tool like Clonezilla to make snapshots of your current install.

Caveat All of the above is referring to your system. You should, of course, have a regime in place to back up your data.

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Linux distros in general are not set up with anything like a restore system. There are small exceptions. The RPM based distro I use keeps an archive of all previous versions of packages when they are upgraded. It's possible to install those packages and roll the software back to what it was before an upgrade, but this creates dependency chaos and is less useful than it sounds. Usually the only way out of package problems is forward.

However if you wanted to implement a system wide restore system, the way to do this would be through the file system rather than the package manger. Use a file system such as XFS that allow full file system snapshotting. Or better yet, setup your drives with LVM and use any file system you like. A slightly more manual way would be the rsnapshot tool to make incremental backups.

Before you do major system work, snapshot the whole thing. Then if something goes bad, you can roll back to exactly how it was and try again.

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It's going to depend on the filesystem you're using, not just the OS or package manager.

If you run / on btrfs, you could leverage its snapshot ability to do this.

I've only just started in with Arch, but as an example of what could be done: Ubuntu has apt-btrfs-snapshot. It's a relatively simple script that hooks into apt to create a btrfs snapshot right before installing packages, and also gives users the ability to easily list/create/delete/rollback snapshots. Of course, all this only works if / is on btrfs. With 11.04, the installer is smart enough to put / and /home on separate subvolumes even if they're on the same partition, so snapshot rollbacks don't affect /home.

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