Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

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daedalus007
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Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by daedalus007 »

I was using my laptop as normal and suddenly it cuts to a black screen with some console lines talking about 'unable to write to drive (disk full)'.

And this is unusual because I don't have much of anything on the computer outside of the OS itself. It was semi-recently installed (about a month ago) and all I'd done was firefox web browsing (private browsing mode, no cache, autocleared on exit).

Now I had to waste several hours searching the internet to find out that TIMESHIFT was the bloody problem.
Not just that, but the default configuration for it had it both ENABLED and making a DAILY FULL BACKUP every day and taking up massive amounts of disk space WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION OR CONSENT of the user!

The Linux Mint dev team failed on some key parts
-introducing a massive change on a new version without proper & clear notification to the end-user
-activating backup and disk usage of said backups without proper clear notification to the end-user
-Timeshift ate up my disk space and KEPT GOING to eat up every last byte until my system was UNBOOTABLE
-This faulty distribution is out live in the world without any warning or notification for anyone who has a ticking time bomb in their computer ready to eat up as much disk space as rapidly as possible.

I didn't just disable Timeshift and delete all the FOURTEEN (!) backups that it was keeping (totaling over 50 GB of space).
I purged the everloving noggin out of TimeShift. Get off my system and never come back.

So 'Linux messed up my laptop' because of the default-enable a 'backup' application without notifying the user and use up over 50 GB of space until said user's computer is unbootable.

Fantastic. Great job.
Last edited by xenopeek on Fri May 14, 2021 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: removed rants
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by HaveaMint »

Timeshift isn't enabled by default . Once Mint is installed it "suggests" that you enable it and use it. It does not do so on its own. You had to enable it and didn't set it to remove older than however many saves to your liking. So in short it isn't bricked and you did it to yourself.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by GS3 »

HaveaMint wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 3:59 am
Timeshift isn't enabled by default . Once Mint is installed it "suggests" that you enable it and use it. It does not do so on its own. You had to enable it and didn't set it to remove older than however many saves to your liking.
Even assuming all this is true I still think it is unfair to put all the blame on the user. It is the equivalent of a contract with clauses hidden in the small print.

There is no excuse for Timeshift to behave like that. If it is going to create a problematic situation it should stop and warn the user not just go ahead and create a big problem. A message like "Your storage disk is dangerously low on free space and Timeshift cannot continue. Would you like to (1) Delete older backups to free disk space, (2) halt this backup without completing it or (3) have the computer explode with spectacular fireworks" would be better.

In fact, Timeshift, in the configuration menu, says "Snapshots will be created if disk has enough space" not "snapshots will be created until disk is fully borked and you cannot even boot".

I agree Timeshift is at fault here.
(1) It should never fill up the last of the disk thereby creating a big problem for the user
(2) It should stop and display a warning if it runs into not enough space situation
(3) It should have the option of limiting the space dedicated to backups.

I agree with the OP. Timeshift does not even do what it says it does.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by rene »

It undoubtedly does do what it says but then sees the root-reserved percentage on ext4 interfere...

That is: ext4 by default reserves 5% of filesystem space for root and in fact exactly for the purpose of not allowing the filesystem to fill up completely without even root being able to login and remedy the situation. Timeshift needs to however run as root so isn't affected by this whereas a normal user is. 1G is less than 5% on any filesystem bigger than 20G meaning that on any such filesystem Timeshift's limit is too low to save that normal user. Not though to save root, and in an essential sense nothing gets borked: the user just logs in as root on a virtual console and frees up enough space.

The fact that many Linux Mint users would have no idea how is certainly something that Mint may and should take into account of course and if I'm not mistaken Timeshift's initial settings have already gone down. Just checked and the default selection on 20.1 is 5 daily snapshots (if enabling Timeshift at all of course; it is not OOTB); still a lot and generally quite useless but certainly not 14 as in poster's case, and although you do still have to work at it a bit to end up with 50G even for 14 snaphots it would seem: until files in fact change they are shared over snapshots.

But in any case then, Timeshift did not in fact keep going until the system was unbootable as such; just until a lowly user couldn't log in any more to his/her own account. It certainly should not but a simple question on for example this forum (which indeed we have seen many of...) would've worked to remedy things. And one does moreover wonder how poster got 14 snapshots on a recently installed system when the default seems to very much be 5...

FWIW by the way, and even if slightly besides the (technical) point as such, what makes the least amount of sense here is the 5% default on anything from a 1G to a 10T filesystem. Seems that ext4 should probably default its block reservation to e.g. 5% or 1G, whichever is less. For those interested (enough) in manual intervention in that sense: you can with sudo tune2fs -m <percentage> /dev/sdXY set the percentage for the ext2/3/4 filesystem on /dev/sdXY.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by AndyMH »

I'm a fan of timeshift - saved me more than once, but...

The defaults need to be changed, at a minimum, it should warn the user about the dangers of saving snapshots in /, preferably prompting for another ext4 partition (next problem - how many newbies would know how to create one?). We get far too many posts from new users who suddenly find they can't boot because of timeshift.

If the default is 5 snapshots per day that is well over the top, mine is once a day and that's too many (it's been on my 'todo' list for a while, but never manages to get to the top).
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by Pjotr »

Timeshift is ideal for making manual, one-time snapshots. Automation of snapshots is essentially bollocks, since even an ancient restored snapshot can easily be updated by means of Update Manager within minutes.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by rene »

AndyMH wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 6:03 am
If the default is 5 snapshots per day that is well over the top, mine is once a day and that's too many
Nono, I meant one a day while keeping 5 is the default settings I see on 20.1 (again, if enabling it at all; it's not by default).
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by daedalus007 »

I'm not surprised that the very first thing I get is a notification that a moderator edited my post to censor it rather than allowing it to be posted as-is because it hurt their feelings.

I'm also not surprised whatsoever at the victim/user-blaming going on here. Rather than acknowledge that something major is seriously a problem and remedying it right away, the sycophants for Linux Mint proceed to post responses amounting to 'RTFM noob'.

I was under the impression that the elitist grognards were using Debian/Gentoo/etc rather than something user-focused like what Linux Mint has meant to be. A more user-friendly and less bloated alternative to Ubuntu. Unfortunately over the past few releases it seems more and more 'defaults' are becoming far too hostile to new users and those upgrading.

So I just did -uname and it says
Linux (mycomputername) 5.8.0-53-generic #60~20.04.1-Ubuntu SMP (date-etc)
When the system became unbootable, I was dumped into a GRUB command line and had to use my phone to look up how to fix things. Not fun and absolutely not user-friendly. Had to do fsck 'manually' as the instructions said, but again very unintuitive and very tech-heavy. A non-techy user may just go 'oh the computer is bad' and scrap it all instead of getting it fixed. And it would be the fault of the Linux Mint devs for this additional e-waste.

Linux Mint developers need to have Timeshift disabled by default, required to have a NOTIFICATION and PROMPT before activating itself, and to have the default backup schedule be MAYBE once a week/month instead of daily backups.



Facts:
-I did a fresh install, not an upgrade

-I installed the official version from the Linux Mint website so it wasn't some third-party nonsense; the Linux Mint devs are responsible for these defaults

-I NEVER AGREED TO OR PERMITTED TIMESHIFT TO BE ENABLED. It did so by itself. If people claim otherwise then something somewhere bugged out and should be identified and remedied if it is repeatable.

-In addition, Timeshift, by default, had a once-daily backup system set to make 14 backups and replace the oldest one (in theory). I didn't change any of these settings.

-In fact, I literally didn't know Timeshift even existed as an installed program (no icon, no notification, nothing at all) until this unbootable issue had occurred.

-I am only back in my computer after spending hours trying to look up what to do and possibly how to fix things and then figuring things out myself. I'll never get those hours of my life back and it wasn't fun trying to fix an 'unbootable' system through no fault of my own.

-From what I remember of the backups before I removed them, it seemed to make an automatic backup every time I changed kernel (aka every time I did sudo apt-get update and it found a new kernel).

-At NO POINT did I ever know Timeshift was working, operating, or using up my disk space until it was too late.

-I had to look up how to disable that 'reserved' disk space so I could actually get to the login screen without being stuck in a boot loop and then access a command line so I could fix things.

-If any of you want to dispute these facts, you'll be wasting your time and mine. This is what it is and I am NOT the only person who's posted 'Timeshift bricked my computer due to eating up all free space'. Saw a few forum threads about it already. Devs can own up to their mistake and FIX IT or they can continue to act like nothing is wrong.

-As we say in the FOSS world, if you want to be hostile to your users then 'Get forked'. :P
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by absque fenestris »

I NEVER AGREED TO OR PERMITTED TIMESHIFT TO BE ENABLED.


You must be using a different Linux Mint than me. Applies to all available desktops and since Timeshift has been included in the delivery at all.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by GS3 »

It could well be that the OP did, in fact, click to run Timeshift and is not aware of it. So what? Picking on that is petty. The fact is that a program which came included and recommended with Linux Mint borked his system. Trying to find a way to put the blame on the user is like picking nits with spelling mistakes or like putting the blame on the pilots of the 737 MAX.

When you install LM you get a "Welcome" screen where it takes you through some steps and one of them is "set automatic system snapshots" ... "a minimum of two daily and two boot snapshots are recommended".

I really do not care if the user forgot that he clicked on a button, the fact is that a program which comes installed and recommended borked his computer when it should not have.

It has never happened to me in the many times I have installed LM and it is probably due to using large drives with plenty of space, taking time to configure Timeshift to keep much less than the "recommended" backup crap and sheer luck but I can see how it could have happened to me and I would be as ticked off as the OP.

Blaming the OP because he followed the recommendations of the OS is unfair. He is ticked off and rightly so. Cut him some slack. Don't circle the wagons here to defend LM no matter what and put the blame on the victim. This is something which should be corrected. Or at least put a notice warning victims users to never, under any circumstances, use Timeshift. Or if they choose to use it then first say goodbye to their data, their computer, their home, their wife and their children.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by absque fenestris »

Probably Launch confused with Lunch, since Linux gives everything for free...
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by Moem »

daedalus007 wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 2:50 am
I'm not surprised that the very first thing I get is a notification that a moderator edited my post to censor it rather than allowing it to be posted as-is because it hurt their feelings.
It's good that you are not surprised. No one should be surprised by the terms that they agreed with when signing up for this forum, which clearly state that 'you agree that “Linux Mint Forums” have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time should we see fit.'

I do think that the documentation for Timeshift could and should be improved. It's too easy to set it up in such a way that it uses too much space in exactly the wrong partition.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by MAlfare »

Moem wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 6:18 am
I do think that the documentation for Timeshift could and should be improved.
And if a user does not read that improved documentation?
As he did not read the hint after installation, to configure TimeShift?
And blame all others, but not himself?
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by absque fenestris »

Probably, only AI-controlled keyboards with electrical charges à la cow pasture, which would be applied in the respective case, would lead to the goal.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by AndyMH »

No, I'm with Moem. Timeshift is an excellent utility, but dangerous with the defaults. If it wasn't we wouldn't have the number of posts we do of newbies filling up their root partition. If teejee doesn't change the setup for timeshift, then the mint devs should change the post installation scripts for mint. Can't be that difficult:

Code: Select all

if root partition < 50GB then
   issue warnings
fi
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by absque fenestris »

I'm a right nasty now: I like to install virtual Mints with about 40 GB of disk allocation, and Timeshift is also in use - with quite exactly two snapshots saved each time.

But your idea is fine...
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by Moem »

AndyMH wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 10:35 am
If teejee doesn't change the setup for timeshift, then the mint devs should change the post installation scripts for mint.
That seems like a good idea. Ideally we'd see a two-pronged approach: better documentation, and more beginner-proof defaults.
Like you said, we are seeing too many people get themselves in trouble. Which they could have avoided, yes... but if so many people get themselves in the same kind of trouble, then it's obvious that something can and should be done here.

Blindly accepting the defaults is not always the best idea, but it should be fairly safe to do.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by AndyMH »

You've hit the nail on the head - accepting the defaults should be safe. But it isn't and we end up picking up the pieces with rightfully unhappy users.

EDIT - got fed up with this, happens too often:
https://github.com/teejee2008/timeshift/issues/751

EDIT2 - I like mint (obviously, wouldn't be here otherwise), I support it monthly through patreon. I'd like to see mint supporting Tony (teejee) financially given that timeshift is 'embedded' in mint so that he has the funding to respond to the issues that mint users raise.
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by rene »

One should I believe however also take some note of the fact that no one from poster through any either agreeing or disagreeing with him took any note whatsoever of the description above as to how his system as such did not in fact bork itself; how the eventual trouble spot was the interplay with the default 5% reserved-blocks percentage on ext4, even if Timeshift of course triggered it and should not have.

Certainly allowing an fs to fill up over 95% is a bad thing but given that most anything that would do so on a normal user system runs as root, reserved-blocks are useless in that sense. And in the sense of not allowing a user to fill up the fs until not even root manages to salvage things basing this off a percentage is useless: 5% may have made great sense when the average ext2 filesystem was 100M but does not whatsoever on anything nonhistoric.

Timeshift's own 1G limit makes more sense and shows moreover that Timeshift itself did already take the precaution everyone agrees it should have: it is Mint/Ubuntu --- and as far as I'm aware every single other distribution --- not adjusting that dumbly historic 5% reserved-blocks default which is much more primarily at issue here; Timeshift is after all just a possible trigger with e.g. run-away logging a semi-usual other. Both at mkfs time and after the fact reserved blocks can be set as either a lower percentage or directly as a number of blocks and user-oriented distributions should start doing so.

But well then, the sense in which I believe it's relevant that no one took any note is that it's considered more enjoyable to keep yelling at Timeshift than look even just a tiny bit deeper in the very same manner as it always will be considered more enjoyable to not know/read what one is doing when e.g. enabling Timeshift. Because, no, it is has never been enabled by default (even if certainly by recommendation) on Mint.

At some point doing something about that general problem becomes impossible without becoming Windows: without not allowing users to bork themselves. And that ain't gonna happen...
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Re: Linux Mint Timeshift Bricked My Laptop!

Post by GS3 »

The documentation can be improved, the defaults can be improved and Timeshift can still cause problems if the disk fills up for any reason. Really, how difficult can it be for Timeshift to issue a warning just before causing the disaster? Because that is the most sure way of preventing it.

Have Timeshift calculate beforehand how much disk space is needed and, if not enough space is available with enough left over, then issue a warning that there is not enough space on disk and operation will be aborted and recommend freeing up disk space before trying again.

Or, if it is easier, then checking for disk space could be done as the operation progresses and stopped if disk space runs too low.

Really. How difficult can this be?
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