I'd like to rsync (backup) a chroot environment from outside the chroot. For that I first make a lvm snapshot of the chroot volume and then run rsync on that.

The only problem with this approach: Symlinks that inside the chroot are absolute are now pointing to the outer-chroot-system and are of course not matching. Since I would like to use copy-unsafe-links, this leads to a false link resolution. Is there a way to make rsync resolve symlinks from another directory than the main root or is there another way to solve this?

  • so you're trying to copy the file the link points to (-L)? or copy the symlink itself (-l)?
    – h3rrmiller
    Oct 3, 2012 at 19:48
  • Neither, I am doing --copy-unsafe-links as stated above.
    – Silvia
    Oct 3, 2012 at 20:26
  • No chance with rsync-means. I just played with -R, -l, -k- this does not do what you want. There has to be a chroot-mode for rsync to accomplish what you want. Make a feature-request to the rsync-developers...
    – Nils
    Oct 4, 2012 at 9:21

2 Answers 2


You could replace your absolute symlinks with relative ones before doing the rsync.

  • Yes, that. This is just one of the ways absolute symlinks cause trouble. The oldie-but-goodie symlinks utility is convenient for that. Oct 4, 2012 at 0:04

Changing all absolute symlinks to relative is definitely a good solution, if it can't be done, a convoluted and inefficient way around it that could work is use sshfs that has a --transform_symlinks option to do just that.

You'd need to set a separate ssh server or a user with a separate configuration in the currently running sshd and use a combination of

Subsystem sftp internal-sftp


ChrootDirectory /path/to/jail

Now, if you're --copy-unsafe-link and thus don't care to preserve symlinks or save space, you could just run rsync chrooted inside the jail (copy a statically linked rsync there, run nscd, bind-mount /var/run/nscd and exclude both /var/run/nscd and that rsync binary from the sync (you may have to bind-mount /dev and/or proc as well and use --one-file-system))

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