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I need a way for Linux Mint 18.3 to make hourly backups of itself to a remote server, which can be used to fully restore the system, or any directory within it. The model I have in mind is Mac Time Machine, using hard links to minimize redundant disk usage.

I've tried to learn about rsync, rsnapshot, and duplicity and must admit they're well over my head. One thing that seems to be missing is the ability to recreate the entire system after "scorching the earth". Unless I'm missing something, these seem to deal mostly with restoring, say, a home directory. I did try running rsync from / to the server, and quickly encountered errors copying /proc and /dev (not surprisingly).

My Mint is currently running in VirtualBox but eventually I'll want to have it run natively. The backup server is a Mac Mini on my LAN, running MacOS 10.12. ssh is installed on both systems.

I'm using the Mint system to host a Wiki and a media server. It's nothing elaborate, I don't think. Is there a solution that's close to being as out-of-the-box as Time Machine, with the ability to restore anything from a directory to the entire system from an arbitrary date?

I realize there are lots of fine points to this, and apologize for any ambiguity. I'll gladly update my question with clarifications or terminology corrections if asked.

UPDATE 1: @patrix points out that TM isn't an image backup and requires that macOS be in place first. From my POV, however, I boot from a special recovery partition, tell it to restore from a TM backup, and two hours later I have a recovered OS that's exactly the way it was after the most recent backup. I'm hoping for something approaching that degree of simplicity and completeness.

  • Time Machine isn't an image backup, using it to restore a system requires (re-)installation of macOS first. Assuming you want to mimic that behavior as well: Do you know which directories/directory trees you need to backup? – nohillside Jan 1 '18 at 20:17
  • Usually, you just need to store /home, /etc and /var (excluding /var/run). Contents in /usr can be easily reinstalled with your package manager. Anything that's a tmpfs or similar doesn't need to get anyway, you don't need /dev, /sys, /tmp or /proc. – Zeta Jan 1 '18 at 20:52
  • @patrix, @zeta - thanks. I once re-created my entire MacOS partition from a TM backup, but that was by first booting the Mac from its recovery partition, which undoubtedly did a lot of things I was unaware of, including a minimal OS reinstall. Ideally, a Linux solution would be that simple. I've followed a number of recommendations for tweaking performance, so I really don't know the extent to which I've modified the system, but having a definitive list (ie. /home, /etc, and so on) is better than nothing. – Chap Jan 1 '18 at 21:13
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Have look to SBackup, SBackup is a simple solution for automatically backing up your Linux desktop without having to pull out the command line and figure out cron jobs and rsync commands—it's easy to use, especially for recent Linux adopters:

https://lifehacker.com/5647282/sbackup-is-a-simple-backup-solution-for-your-linux-pc

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