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TimeShift Question - George #150355 02/07/21 06:12 PM
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Muniac Offline OP
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Hi George - I have a quick TimeShift question. CloneZilla won't run on my new Dell laptops. I'm OK with generating an image BU w/TimeShift. If a machine won't boot, how do you go about reloading the HD?

CloneZilla has a boot disk which loads a kernel and allows the image to be copied back to the HD. It seems to reload a TS backup you need to have TS running. Which wouldn't be possible on a dead laptop. Just curious as I know you've used the utility.

Also does the image backup from TimeShift require a dedicated storage device? Or does it just create a large folder or file collection? I'd like to save the backup to my Pass Port drive but don't want to wipe it out if TimeShift tries to create a master boot record. Many thanks.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150356 02/07/21 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
...I have a quick TimeShift question. CloneZilla won't run on my new Dell laptops. I'm OK with generating an image BU w/TimeShift. If a machine won't boot, how do you go about reloading the HD?...

After TimeShift runs for the first time and takes its first snapshot, you can enable automatic system snapshots at regular intervals from the Settings window.

TimeShift snapshots are saved by default on the system's root partition in /timeshift. Other partitions can be selected if you wish, including saving snapshots to an external (non-system) partition - which in my view is preferable.

Then, if your machine fails to boot for any reason, you can fix whatever the problem happens to be, install a fresh OS, activate TimeShift and 'restore' one of the backed up snapshots you've saved from the external partition you saved them on.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150358 02/07/21 08:38 PM
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George - Thanks for the information. That's what I expected but confirmation is good. CloneZilla installs a Linux kernel which probably takes about the same time as loading a fresh boot disk, installing TimeShift then restoring the system. I'll opt for a clean 64Gb MicroSD card for the target. Formatted to EXT4 prior. I understand about incremental backups. The first time is going to be slow.

CloneZilla doesn't like the new hardware and issues too many warnings which doesn't inspire confidence. I've used it on my old Dells and two Windows 2000 workstations. Thanks and take care.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150360 02/07/21 11:31 PM
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George - Formatted a MicroSD card and did created an image. Took about 5 minutes total. Seemed to go well and I have a TimeShift folder now. I can't test the restore until I get the other machine freed up. Still working on installing applications, configuring and getting data files moved over.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150361 02/07/21 11:56 PM
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All I've used TimeShift for is to restore a somehow borked operating system to full functionality on an otherwise operational machine, never to do a fresh installation and put a preferred OS setup in place. According to what I've read, the procedure outlined above 'should' work. However I've never tested it first hand, so I can't vouch for any of it personally.

If I have to do a fresh installation for whatever reason, typically I will backup my home directory then put it back into place once the new OS is up and running. Without the preferred home directory in place I don't see how a TimeShift snapshot would have the desired effect. ..But again, I haven't done this myself so it'll be interesting to see what you come up with..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150372 02/08/21 05:46 PM
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I dealt with changing the default options which exclude some files I'l like backed up. I'm currently well under my 64Gb drive size. So I backed up the whole ball of wax. Also shut down the scheduler so I run the backups manually whenever. Having TimeShift scheduler active is good for backups sent to the HD. It messes up the volume mounting/unmounting for removable storage. Setting for manual backups fixes that issue. I'll test a full system restore as I have two identical laptops. I'd like to make a complete copy of the one configured laptop to the other one. Let me play a bit and I'll report back on what happens. I just want to make sure I have all the data (on older laptop) moved over before I overlay its HD. And that all the new application installs are working. So far so good.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150374 02/08/21 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
.....Let me play a bit and I'll report back on what happens. I just want to make sure I have all the data (on older laptop) moved over before I overlay its HD. And that all the new application installs are working. So far so good..

Sounds good to this point. If you're as successful as I hope you'll be we'll know that TimeShift properly configured will do everything we need it to, not just revert a working system to an earlier snapshot when something goes wrong - which I've used TimeShift for a couple of times when software and/or configuration issues created problems ..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150379 02/08/21 11:27 PM
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George - OK, I'm on the restored system which was totally replaced via a TimeShift backup restored from the target system. You'll need to set a few options like selecting the device you'll be restoring to. The advanced boot options I left as defaults. Select the source device, turn off schedules and make sure all files are selected in USER. Hit restore. The screen goes black then line items display hundreds of thousands of files as it rebuilds the system. It deals with the GRUB boot loader last, then reboots the system. So initially it all looks fine. I need to run applications now and see what happens. I'd say this took about 5 minutes. I'm about 6 Gbs in size which is small. Updates to follow.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150397 02/10/21 02:00 AM
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So how did your applications run? Anything needing reinstallation to get it going?..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150411 02/10/21 06:32 PM
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George - So far everything is running perfectly. The source laptop cloned perfectly over to the target. Both laptops are identical so this is a good test for TimeShift. I'm just getting ready to install VB and K3B so I'll do another BU before that. The TimeShift file is owned by the root. So I deal with permissions to delete the folder and build a new one from scratch. I'm using a MircoSD card to SD card adapter for the target storage device. My Dell has a female socket for them. 64Gb is way more than I need at the moment. The system has a 250Gb SSD in it. You can do incremental scheduled backups to that drive. But what happens when that drive sh*ts the bed? There are two kinds of drives. Those that have crashed and those that will crash. So having the image on removable storage would avoid losing the BU. TimeShift defaults to excluding your home folder so I've checked the options to save the entire system.

Reports using TimeShift are so far good. I'm using it a bit different for the reasons I've mentioned. It's much more convenient than CloneZilla. I use CloneZilla for my old Windows workstations, however. I already know VB runs fine on this hardware. I setup Jeannie's workstation with VB which went surprisingly well. Did an Import Appliance and got her XP machine back up. I'll report back with updates.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150412 02/10/21 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
George - So far everything is running perfectly. The source laptop cloned perfectly over to the target. Both laptops are identical so this is a good test for TimeShift......

Reports using TimeShift are so far good. I'm using it a bit different for the reasons I've mentioned. It's much more convenient than CloneZilla. I use CloneZilla for my old Windows workstations, however.....

I haven't used TimeShift to do a full backup yet. The couple of times I've used it to revert a troublesome system to an earlier snapshot it has worked flawlessly. But knowing now that its capabilities go far beyond the basic use I've had for it is exciting.

I tried CloneZilla on my Linux Mint system and never felt confidant or comfortable using it. TimeShift on the other hand, the little I've done with it, just 'made sense'. So, following your lead, I'll do a complete backup, home directory and all, on a USB-3 thumb drive and put that away for any 'just in case' need I may have for it as time goes by..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150414 02/10/21 08:52 PM
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George - It's a nice utility. I've setup the options for manual control. No scheduled backups. Scheduling seems to grab the mount point on removable devices and makes unmounts and mounts create errors. It must run in the background and tie up the USB port. Format your blank media to ext4 using GParted. Careful to selection the right media. Set TimeShift for the whole ball of wax (settings->users) by clicking the Include All Files buttons. Turn off the scheduling. Mount your media, let it enumerate then make sure that's set as the target (settings->location). Run create. I had about 12Gb which took 15 minutes. You'll should see a single timeshift folder created. That's what can be used to re-image your entire HD. Obviously, you'll need to install a bare bones Linux system that allows running TimeShift on a totally dead machine. I always have DVDs with the current O/S burned. This would work on an unbootable machine and/or one with a new HD. I always keep a second laptop identical to the one I use for all my applications.

To do another image, mount the media and use sudo rm -r timeshift from the terminal window opened from the root containing the timeshift folder. It's a recursive delete and it took about 5 minutes to kill the folder + contents. Just wait for the prompt to come back. System seems hung but it's working. Then do another create from TimeShift. You'll have a fresh and current BU this way. This is what I did and it worked fine. Never hurts to have a couple of backups on two removable storage devices. TimeShift is tons better than CloneZilla which is rough to say the least. Its kernel is also fussy on what it will boot on. It's also slow as a turtle some 3 hours to image a HD.

TimeShift does incremental BUs so there may be more efficient ways to use the application. I haven't tested any of them, however. What's above I know works. Good luck!


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150415 02/11/21 03:53 PM
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It works great! Now I know. Thanks for the walk through. That will be a handy tool to have. I ran it on my main machine backing up to a 64GB USB-3 stick formatted to ext4. I had WAY to much data to be backed up to make it a quick job, but it got it done. If I ever needed to reinstall or clone this system to a different machine I could put it back 'exactly' as it was. Like I said, 'a handy tool to have', and a heck of a lot easier than trying to do the same thing with CloneZilla..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150418 02/12/21 01:08 AM
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George - When I go between machines the UUID is different on the HD. The UUID is a unique identifier used in partitions to uniquely identify partitions in Linux operating systems. You'll get this message during the boot:

[FAILED] Failed to start Remount Root and Kernel File System.

It doesn't hang the system but flashes by and boot through. This wouldn't happen if you're restoring back to the same HD. It might happen if you replace the HD and load Linux, run TimeShift and do a restore. I've solved the problem be putting the proper UUID is /etc/fstab I keep these notes on my other blog and when I finish the TimeShift instructions completely detailing everything I'll post the link here. You can use lsblk -f to get the UUID for the primary partition. Copy and past that into /etc/fstab so GRUB sees the boot partition. You can also specify nofail to suppress the message which is a band aid. More details forth coming.

It's these wrinkles that make Linux challenging. Many hours required to get this figured out. TimeShift would never know to make these system specific changes. But GRUB is smart enough to find the boot device even though the UUID is incorrect.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150440 02/13/21 07:44 PM
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George - I try to document instructions on stuff I usually forget because I don't do it often. HD imaging being one such activity. I finished up with TimeShift which worked fine for me cloning a laptop configuration and restoring it on another laptop. I did experience a UUID wrinkle which I researched and solved. All the dope is HERE if you want to read what I did. The UUID stuff is near the end should you encounter a boot [FAILED] message. I don't know how UUIDs are generated so if you replaced a HD and had to restore it, this might come up.

A dead laptop would require a fresh distro reload and installing TimeShift. During the install, a new UUID might be assigned which would differ from the previous one saved in old the HD image. This I haven't tested. Enjoy!


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150441 02/13/21 11:53 PM
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Good write up with clear instructions for using TimeShift as a complete HD imaging tool. I appreciate you providing this helpful walk-through, Scott. Thanks much!..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150443 02/14/21 12:02 AM
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No problems. I just got Virtual Box up and running. Reasonably painless this time. I'll do a write up on that. On the Dell M4800 you could bring up a Windows 10 machine. I've got a junk HP Elite Book with a Windows 10 O/S on it I use for development. It isn't connected to the internet either. Jeannie uses Windows XP to run Canoscan for the Canon Document scanner she needs. We just did an import appliance from one of the old Dells. The entire machine came over fine. That's a nice feature BTW.


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150474 02/17/21 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Muniac
.....Jeannie uses Windows XP to run Canoscan for the Canon Document scanner she needs...

Not sure which Canoscan model Jeannie uses, but for what it may be worth I run my Canoscan 20 on Mint 20.1 with any issues using the SimpleScan app that's available with Mint. Works perfectly for what I need it to do..


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Re: TimeShift Question - George [Re: Muniac] #150491 02/19/21 04:11 PM
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It's an old scanner but might work on native Linux. Can't hurt to plug it in and try it. Thanks for the suggestion.


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