Tag Archives: backup

Migrate Linux Subsystem from one PC to another

Are you enjoying your favorite Linux distro running within the Windows 10 Linux Subsystem?

Have you configured all nicely?

What happened if you get a new pc and you’d like to migrate your VM across?

This is what happened to me. And looking around, I found this post that gave me this kinda-dirty way, but did work!

After that, I decided to review the steps, and I’ve added these directories in the exclude’s list, to make clearer the process of export/import:

Of course, if you have important data in these folders and you want to move across too, just update the one-liner below accordingly. 😉

On your OLD PC

  • Open your Linux VM
  • Get inside your Downloads directory (replace <user> with your username): cd /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Dowloads
  • Make sure to be root (sudo su -)
  • Run:
    tar -cvpzf backup.tar.gz --exclude=/backup.tar.gz --exclude=/dev --exclude=/proc --exclude=/sys --exclude=/run --exclude=/tmp --exclude=/media --exclude=/mnt --exclude=/var/cache --exclude=/var/run --one-file-system /
    NOTE: you could achieve the same using the option --exclude-from=file.txt, and having the list of exclusions in this file. I used a one-liner as it’s quicker to copy and paste.
  • Once done, close your Linux VM
  • Verify that you have a new file called backup.tar.bz in Dowloads

On your NEW PC

  • Install from Microsoft Store the same Linux VM (or reinstall in the same way you have done originally on your old pc)
  • Copy across your backup.tar.bz within your new Downloads folder
  • Open the VM that you’ve just installed (minimal setup – this will be completely overwritten, so don’t be bothered too much)
  • Once you’re inside and your backup.tar.bz is in Download, run the following (replace <user> with your username):
    sudo tar -xpzf /mnt/c/Users/<user>/Dowloads/backup.tar.gz -C / --numeric-owner
  • Ignore the errors
  • Close and re-open the VM: DONE! 🙂

Happy migration! 😉

Backup Linux file/dir permissions


Holland backup setup

>> package:

>> Auto install script:

>> Where is the DB conf file:

>> When it runs

>> Test command to see if all works without actually run it

>> /etc/holland/backupsets/default.conf


Rackspace Cloud – Remove old System IDs via command line

Rough script/instructions 🙂


Rackspace Cloud Driveclient not working

First of all, checks the logs: /var/log/driveclient.log

You might find 403 errors and lines that are showing that the agent can’t connect properly.

In this case, the first step is trying to re-register the backup agent:
3) Maybe the customer has changed the API key so try re-register the backup agent:

Desired Output:

In case you get something like “ERROR: Registration failed: Could not authenticate user. Identity returned 401“, this means that you probably need to force a bit the registration, using the following command:


Backup – rsnapshot and rdiff (multiple backups)

This is a very basic/simple guide about how to setup incremental and versioned backups of your Linux computers and Mac. 🙂

Initial problem:

    • Time Machine is unreliable after a while, and when you put on sleep your Mac, most of the time it complains because the USB drive wasn’t disconnected properly :@
    • I’d like to be able to have an incremental/versioning backup system local BUT also have some of critical files uploaded in the cloud [using some cron and some cloud provider’s utility]
    • Time Machine on external drives uses ‘sparsebundle’ storage system, which is complicated to open and extract files from Linux command line [I’ve previously created a Time Machine on the pi, and I was thinking to create a sort of system to open the sparsebundle file, and upload the files during the night – but this doesn’t seem easy or neither really reliable]
    • Backing up VMs with Time Machine takes ages, as if a little bit changes, the whole content gets copied over (space and time consuming)

So… I needed something that could:

  • Do incremental backups storing only the differences (for VMs) to avoid to transfer every time GBs of data for little changes
  • Do versioning of small files (documents, videos, music, etc…) based on a custom schedule
  • Be accessible on the filesystem without tricky stuffs (like opening a ‘sparsebundle’ file
  • Be able to run on a raspberry pi and mostly likely, able to access Linux and Mac systems, and have a centralised backup system.

Answer: combination of rsnapshot and rdiff-backups… plus some sort of Cloud Provider’s utility to sync part of this content on the Cloud (still work in progress).
I found this nice article where it explains the differences between the two tools, and it should clarify why I’ve chosen to use a combination of both of them and not just one.
The main bit is this one:

rdiff-backup stores previous versions as compressed deltas to the current version similar to a version control system. rsnapshot uses actual files and hardlinks to save space. For small files, storage size is similar. For large files that change often, such as logfiles, databases, etc., rdiff-backup requires significantly less space for a given number of versions.

So, I’ve installed rsnapshot and rdiff-backups on my pi. Packages are available using apt-get command.
After that, I have created one rsnapshot configuration file for each of my linux machines (actually pi’s) and one for my Macrdiff-backup will be called within rsnapshot, in a post-exec script (option available, and very handy).

It’s clearly necessary to have SSH enable on your Linux and Mac machines. Also, in this particular case, I have added the following in visudo on the Mac, to allow the user to run pmset passwordless:

Configuration files

I’m posting 2 configuration examples: one for my pi (local backup_, and the other onefor my Mac (remote backup – via ssh/rsync).
I’ve literally kept the original /etc/rsnapshot.conf just as reference – not actively using at all.

Here my custom configuration files:


This is a file that I’ve created and I use it as “default/general” parameters that I include in any of the other custom files. Why? Just to avoid to copy and paste the same on any custom file 🙂

PI configuration file (local backup)


This script copies home, etc, cron into /USB/backups/pi1/daily.0/files/.
The last line also execute the command and pull the output file and store within /USB/backups/pi1/daily.0/installed-packages/

The MAC configuration (remote backup).

This requires some extras.
What I’ve done is combining a pre and post script around the rsnapshot backup, in order to obtain the following:

  1. waking up the MAC via wake-on-lan package (this is possible because my MAC is connected also via ethernet)
  2. connect via ssh
  3. send a command to keep the disk on and avoid them to go in idle
  4. visually notify that the backup is about to run (in case someone is currently using the Mac)
  5. run the rsnapshot backup
  6. once finished, run rdiff-backup for the big files (VMs)
  7. once done, kill the process that was keeping the disks on
  8. visual notification sent to inform that backup has completed
  9. disconnect. If no one is connected, the Mac will go back in standby (if enabled).
  10. clean up old rdiff-backups


The following bash scripts have some parameters that need to be set manually (highlighted in orange)



The following file is the one used as ‘filter‘ for rsync. It uses that syntax.
To clarify, this does the backup of Documents, Pictures, Movies, Music folders ONLY from the user called ‘user‘, excluding the subfolders ‘VMs‘ in Documents, all the folders that starts with ‘Season‘ in Movies, any other possible folders in ‘user’ home dir, and any file/folder starting with .Spotlight, .Trash and .DS_Store files in ANY subfolders.


This is the CRON that executes the backup jobs.
The ‘less frequent’ job needs to run before the ‘most frequent’. I’ve explained this later in this post, however the reason is that the actual active sync happens JUST in the most frequent job, and the others are just rotations made with a ‘mv’ command. So, it’s important to make the rotation BEFORE the sync.

Folders created:

*Use chmod 1777 on logs and run folders if you want other users than root to run the backups and write log files.

Let’s clarify some bits and pieces

sync_first 1

To be sure to properly complete the first full backup, enable  sync_first setting this to 1. Once completed, remove/comment it out.
To execute the first sync, run the following:

Basically, run the sync as many times you want… and once you have finished, you will start invoking (with CRON) the daily, weekly, monthly… etc backups. REMEMBER to disable it once finished, otherwise you won’t actually run any sync!

TABs no spaces!

IMPORTANT: do NOT use spaces in the rsnapshot configuration files but only TABS!!!
Copy and paste might change tabs to spaces so be sure to review all your configs. Use the -t flag to test every time if syntax is correct.

Test your configuration (-t)

The -t will also display exactly the command that it’s going to be executed – very handy! 🙂

Remote backups

Another thing to keep in mind is that ‘REMOTE’ backups (whatever uses [email protected]) are actually launching the command on the remote host so it’s required to have rsync installed on the remote machine too (and rdiff-backup if used too). Versions should also match. If not, at least rsync should be version >= 3.
To allow this to work on my Mac, for instance, I had to install “rdiff-backup” and install a newer version of “rsync”, as the default version is 2.6.x. I’ve used the Rudix packages. Easy easy 🙂

Retain daily/weekly/monthly… sync… wtf?!

Very important to understand about rsnapshot that made me kinda mad for few hours: the job that DOES the backup is the one on the top of the list (most frequent).
So, if you have daily, weekly, monthly… set as ‘retain’ parameters in the rsnapshot conf file, the one that does actually the copy of the files is ‘daily‘ (top of the list – most frequent). The other ones are JUST some sort of rotation of the folder tree. Literally a ‘mv’ command… that’s it. You can verify this using -t flag to see the commands.
So, don’t get confused 🙂

So, to summarise:

  • sync: first initial backup – handy especially to create the initial backup. This creates a .sync folder in snapshot_root.
  • daily: this is the one that does the copy (or the ‘most frequent’ backup set – in mac for example, I set that to be ‘weekly’ and ‘monthly’ only, so in that case, weekly is the most frequent backup set and it’s the one that does the sync
  • weekly/monthly… (less frequent backups): these are simply ‘mv’ commands.

To explain more in details… the flow of my Mac…
You run the first sync (as many times as you want), with ‘sync_first‘ enabled.

This creates the backup in /USB/backups/mac/.sync/
Than you run the crons. Weekly will be the first to run:

This will actually run this move, creating the first weekly folder:

Than, DISABLE ‘sync_first’ and the next time the weekly cron will be executed, something like that will run, moving the weekly.0 to weekly.1, hard linking the identical files and sync’ing the ones that have been changed since:

Then, next time, weekly.2 and weekly.3 will be created: same method.
Until the LAST backup is created (#3, in this case -> 4 retention – from 0 to 3), the monthly job won’t take any affects.
Once we have /USB/backups/mac/weekly.3/, and this will be executed…

… this will be executed:
mv /USB/backups/mac/weekly.3/ /USB/backups/mac/monthly.0/

And so and so…

Little note, keeping the above example. You might start this backup in the middle of month, so at the end of the month you won’t have reached the 4th weekly backup sets, but just the 2nd (#0 and #1). So.. what happens with the ‘monthly’ one that will run on the 1st of the month?
Answer: nothing.
Basically, this time the monthly backup will skip as the previous max retention limit is not reached yet. Weekly backups will continue rotating within themselves.
The first week of the second month, weekly backup will reach #2 (third backup). #1 => #2, #0 =>  #1 and the new backup stored in #0.
Second week #3 (4th and last). #2 => #3, #1 => #2, #0 =>  #1 and the new backup stored in #0. The #3 (oldest) should be the one that rotates… but the monthly cron won’t be executed until the next month. But there’s nothing to be worried about. Next weekly run, on the third week, the #3 will be marked for deletion, and a new #0 will be created.  Same for the forth week. Oldest backup deleted, max limit reached.
And here, we will get into the new month, where the monthly backup will be called BEFORE the weekly one, and it will rotate weekly.3 in monthly.0, and the weekly (#3 => monthly#0, #2 => #3, #1 => #2) freeing up ‘one space’ (#0). This will be filled up from the next ‘weekly’ run, and all will be ‘in sync’ for the next months. 🙂

I hope this example clarifies. 🙂

If you are decide, one day, to move your backup from one disk to another one, MAKE SURE to rsync preserving the hard links, otherwise your backup will raise like a cake in the oven! 🙂

Here a sample command:

SSL PASSIVE FTP with virtual users on Raspberry Pi

I found this handy plugin to backup my blog: BackWPup
It has also an interesting feature which is the ability to backup remotely, for example on a FTP server.

So… here we go! 🙂

Few notes:

  • This uses vsftpd software
  • It will work ONLY over SSL
  • Due to SSL encryption, the FTP will also work ONLY in PASSIVE mode (ACTIVE mode is disabled)
  • This configuration has been made based of the fact that this raspberry pi is behind a router
  • This will use ONLY virtual users, chroot’ed, to increase the security (vsftpd will use a custom PAM auth file, which won’t lookup in /etc/passwd files – for this reason, any local user attempts to login will fail)
  • Virtual users usernames and credentials will be stored in a file
  • There is a workaround in place to avoid some common issues like “500 OOPS: Vsftpd: Refusing to Run With Writable Root Inside Chroot ()” – FYI, allow_writeable_chroot=yes does NOT work on vsftpd version 2.3.5.

Install required packets:

Create SSL certificate:

Add a local user with limited access (like no console) that vsfpd will use to run virtual users:

Create directory structures for the virtual users:

Please note that all new virtual users added need its home directory manually created as per above. Also, due to the chroot option and the current limitation on vsftpd, if you want a user to be able to write in its home directory, you need to create an extra folder. Its root home folder has to be -w. This is a workaround that works 🙂

Setup PAM authentication

Create a new file /etc/pam.d/vsftpd.virtual and add the following:

Now, let’s reorder a bit vsftp files in a directory:

Add new users (password max 8 characters):

Use the flag -c only the first time to create the file. If you re-use it, the file will be overwritten!
Also the -d flag is required because vsftpd is unable to read MD5 hashed password (default if -d is not used). The downside of this is a password limited to 8 characters.
Openssl could be used to produce a MD5 based BSD password with algorithm 1 using # openssl passwd -1 (not tested)

Let’s configure vsftpd

Now, on your router, make sure that the module ip_conntrack_ftp is loaded using lsmod command.
This is required for FTP PASSIVE mode to work.
I’ve realised that this can be called also nf_conntrack_ftp.
A good way to check all the alias associated to that netfilter module is using the following command:

Also, make sure to setup a port forwarding like as below:

Backup Raspberry Pi SD on your Mac… and restore.

Plug the SD in your Mac.

In the Terminal, as root, use diskutil to identify your SD.
Generally it’s the last in the list, if you’ve just plugged in.

You will see something like this:

In my case, the SD is /dev/disk4. For this reason, I run the following to unmount the whole disk.

Once done, you can create the backup using dd utility, but make sure to change the device from /dev/diskX to /dev/rdiskX, adding the “r“.

To restore, of course… invert if (input file) with of (output file)… 🙂