As far as I understand, the snapshots made by btrfs subvolume snapshot are writable by default and are visible at a certain path under the mountpoint of your btrfs volume.

How to setup the system so that there is a gurantee during the normal operation of the system that nothing is written to the snapshot? But without making it invisible to the users (i.e., it should remain accessible for reading by any users with respect to their permissions).

(For now, I've just chmod og-rwx /.snapshots where my snapshots are mapped to. But that doesn't fulfill the second of my wishes, and also the guarantee is not strong enough: a process with root's rights could spoil something there.)

Does one need to do some tricks with mount to achieve this goal?

btrfs subvolume snapshot -r /path/to/mounted/subvolume /path/to/snapshot

(Note that this did not work on older versions of Ubuntu.)

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    Doesn't work for me either on Ubuntu 11.10. – Stefan Lasiewski Feb 1 '12 at 2:21
  • It works on Ubuntu 16.04 – Aleksandr Dubinsky Jul 21 '16 at 17:26
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    @AleksandrDubinsky Can we at least try to generalise this away from Ubuntu. I expect the version of btrfs, or at least its user-space tools is more relevant. We know at least that v0.19 of the command line tool didn't work. Can we get a version number for that does work? – Adrian Ratnapala Jul 22 '16 at 19:50

Are you using Ubuntu?

Ubuntu ships with an old version of btrfs-tools (aka "btrfs-progs"), and thus the userland tools do not support read-only snapshots.

See this bug (and it's parent bug):


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According to Btrfs wiki, read-only snapshots are available since Linux 2.6.38. So make sure you have a recent kernel. Apart from that, you should be just able to do it using ro mount option (mount -o [other-options],ro ...).

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    kernel.org had a security breech in mid-2011, and apparently btrfs.wiki.kernel.org is a snapshot of the wiki from before the security breech, and contains old information. From what I can tell, the current Btrfs wiki is at btrfs.ipv5.de , and this will eventually be merged into btrfs.wiki.kernel.org – Stefan Lasiewski Feb 1 '12 at 17:16
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    btrfs.wiki.kernel.org is now back and is updated! – Stefan Lasiewski May 16 '12 at 23:03

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