Over on the Community website I created an 'Idea' that qt4-fsarchiver could be incorporated into the MInt iso's in order to facilitate zero knowledge disaster recovery directly from the Mint installation medium of your choice. In other words, you break your system for whatever reason and, as long as you have an image from before the breakage, you simple restore it with your existing Mint dvd/usb medium and carry on as if nothing had happened, no tearing out your hair searching google, no agonising waits for someone to answer your question on the forum, no other tools to download - just restore and go. I have been doing this for years and so have a lot of others it really just makes a lot of sense. One of the criticisms levelled at that idea was the lack of a tutorial on using the software. They do exist thanks to such people as Gerd50 and ukbrian et.al, but apparently it was felt these were not clear enough or too old, so I was asked to do an updated one myself, here it is.
Qt4-fsarchiver (which I will abbreviate to qt4 from now on) is an imaging system similar to Symantec Ghost or Acronis True Image, ie it is a simple gui based system restore solution, unlike clonezilla, partclone etc which are basically command line tools and also unlike ghost and true image in that this is open source and free to use. Moreover it is installable unlike redobackup for example that only runs from a live cd. This factor is not important if you only have one Linux distro because, in that case you would be better running from a live cd anyway and redobackup will probably do just as well, but it is important in the context of my 'Idea' in that it can easily be incorporated into the MInt iso.
So how to use it. Launch qt4, it will ask for your password and after a few seconds scanning your system it will present you with a screen like the one below, but without the red letters that I have added as a part of the tutorial.
The purpose of the 3 red letters is to illustrate that the information required here is all you need to know to use this software - ie, just about nothing! A
= Existing partition ie. What do you want to image.B
= Backup Directory ie Where do you want to put itC
= Name of backup - you don't even need to put the date, it does that automatically.
And that is it, press Save Partition and wait.
All the other buttons and settings in the top two thirds of that screen are options that you can play with if you want to, but don't necessarily need to touch if you prefer not to.
The bottom third of the screen is just a fancy progress bar, this is what it looks like part way through:
In this particular case I have imaged sda2, my ubuntu partition, which contains 4.9Gb of data and saved it to sdb1 my external hard drive. The image took 10m24s and the image size was 1.6Gb, about one third of the original.
Here are some notes about imaging.
You can image ntfs partitions, but it is considered, according to the writers as 'experimental'. They therefore say you shouldn't rely on it 100%. I don't have any ntfs partitions to test it on so I don't know for sure. It does not image fat32 partitions. It is basically a Linux solution not a windows solution.
You can do 'live' backups ie. image the partition you are running from but in this case it warns that any files that change during the course of the backup will not necessarily be backed up as you might want them (so if you want to do this, do not use the machine whilst the image is taking place). I have personally done a live backup with qt4 and restored it and could find no problems with the restored image - YMMV
However you cannot write the backup image to the same partition you are backing up, it has to go elsewhere. Imaging from a second distro or live medium should be considered preferable.
Qt4 can make images of folders as well (it is a different screen, not shown here) but there are better solutions out there for this such as mintbackup, luckybackup etc. These use incremental backups qt4 does not. It can also image mbr's pbr's and gpt partition tables although I have never tried restoring any of these.
My backup took only 10 minutes, but the partition I am imaging is a / partition that does not include /home. I keep that on a different partition and use a different backup solution for that due to the reasons given above. If you only have one partition then your backups will take much longer and will be much larger depending how much you have in your /home folder. It is not really a good solution for this case unless you are very patient, you really need a separate /home.
Images can be made to a separate partition (eg, /home if that is separate) any external device, usbkey, a network, but not directly to a cd/dvd (as far as I know) if you want that then you would have to write it to an internal drive first and then burn it to cd/dvd with brasero etc.
So that is imaging, what about restoring? Even easier really, just click the 'restore' radio button then there are only two choices to make:
Existing partitions = where to restore to.
Backup File = where to restore from.
In the image below I would restore my latest ubuntu image back to its former home, sda2. It is possible to restore to different partitions although I haven't tried it myself and it is also possible to restore to a smaller partition than the one you originally imaged. The only proviso is that the size of the partition you restore to must be as big or bigger than the original amount of data on the partition (in my case the partition restored to must be 4.9Gb or above).
Restores are very quick, typically about 3 minutes. I have used it many times, it has always worked and always restored a bootable, working distro for me. Of course you need to keep the images up to date (I do it once a week) or otherwise you may have a lot of updates to install that have taken place since your last image, but that is the case with all backups, the only thing worse than an old backup is a non-existent backup
I don't suppose it is very likely that my community site idea will be accepted, so in the event that you are interested in this program, you can download an installable .deb file from here:http://sourceforge.net/projects/qt4-fsa ... eb-Pakete/
Or a live cd version from here:http://sourceforge.net/projects/qt4-fsa ... 0language/
Which you could put onto a usb key if you wanted to.
Edit. Can I please ask, as this is a tutorial and not a discussion thread, if you have problems understanding the tutorial then by all means reply to this thread. However if you want to discuss the relative merits of this solution against any other, then please start a new thread. Thanks.