Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

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yymbr
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Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by yymbr » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:45 pm

I wasn't able to find my specific issue on the web or in the forum. I have used the Linux Mint Backup tool on my old laptop to backup my personal data and software selections. A tar file and a .lists file were created, so I copied those to my new laptop and used the tool to restore from those files. Both machines are Linux Mint 18.3 and 64bit.

The error I receive when restoring personal data says:
"This backup file is either too old or it was created with a different tool. Please extract it manually."
I created the file today and with the same default Linux Mint Backup tool ver 2.3.2. My only guess is that it won't work unless the laptops are the same kind? They are both HP but my old one is an i3 from 6 years ago and the new one is an i7 2017.

The for restoring the software selection says:
"The selected file is not a valid software selection."
I think it also has to relate to it being from a different machine. I am sort of confused though, because I assumed the Mint Backup tool was designed so you could "transfer/copy" all of your old programs and settings and files to a new machine, and not just to restore them to the same machine if it ever crashed or something.

I have read other sources stating to just copy the Home directory from the old machine and paste it into the new one. Not sure if that is the best thing to do, and also if it would save all my settings.
I have read for programs, you can manually run the command in terminal "sudo dpkg --set-selections < [packages].list", but when I do that I get the error:
"dpkg: warning: found unknown packages; this might mean the available database is outdated, and needs to be updated through a frontend method"

and none of the programs install. I have had Linux Mint for many years, but I am not the most super technical user for troubleshooting, meaning if I can't find guides or step by steps of what to do in a terminal, then I can't really solve an error. This was actually the first issue I couldn't solve on my own or by searching, so I a forum account in hope for a solution, as ideally, I wouldn't like to install all of my programs again, including ones not from the Software Center, and tweak all the different settings and permissions for each one.

Any help would be appreciated. I have been trying to figure this out for a week now so I can finally move to my new machine. Thanks!

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Sir Charles
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by Sir Charles » Wed Aug 08, 2018 3:07 pm

Despite your question being about Mint Backup Tool, please allow me to suggest an excellent tool called Aptik for migrating personal data, settings, PPA:s etc. from one to another install.
I suppose that's one of the ironies of life, doing the wrong thing at the right moment -C.C.

yymbr
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by yymbr » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:07 am

Thanks for the Aptik suggestion, but I was hoping someone else had a solution related to Mint's tool. I am guessing that it is only supposed to be used if you want to backup to the same computer and not to try and move to a new machine. I am not sure how useful that is in my case, as I am thinking of something like in Windows how you can use Richcopy/Robocopy to regularly backup all your files so if your hardrive fails, you can copy everything to the new one, or to a new computer if you upgrade.

It seems now they are promoting the Timeshift tool but this sounds like it is for system snapshots, and not just for copy files. Do most people just manually copy and past their Home folders to an external hard drive? Are there any other folders other than Home that are needed for settings, programs, files, etc if you want to be prepared for harddrive failure or moving to a new system?

gm10
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by gm10 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:17 am

yymbr wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:07 am
I was hoping someone else had a solution related to Mint's tool. I am guessing that it is only supposed to be used if you want to backup to the same computer and not to try and move to a new machine.
No, the only check it does is whether there's a file named .meta.mint in that archive (at least according to the latest source code: https://github.com/linuxmint/mintbackup ... up.py#L338)

I don't know why that doesn't work in your case, your version might have a bug. Open the backup in file explorer and see whether it was created correctly I guess. if it is, just extract it manually.

Also: Despite its misleading description, the backup doesn't, by default, back up any settings. Settings are stored in hidden files and folders and those do not get backed up by default. So Backup Tool's usefulness is rather limited. I would indeed recommend using something else. Even just creating a compressed archive of your home folder via your file browser's right-click menu seems preferable.

yymbr
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by yymbr » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:28 am

Interesting I didn't realize any of that. I guess a compressed version is probably a lot easier, since that way I will retain the settings and hidden files. My only question is that I think some programs that I have manually installed not in Synaptic aren't stored in the Home folder. How do I know what other folders I would need to backup? I am using Timeshift and I am pretty sure that covers everything except the Home folder right?

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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by gm10 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:01 am

yymbr wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:28 am
Interesting I didn't realize any of that. I guess a compressed version is probably a lot easier, since that way I will retain the settings and hidden files. My only question is that I think some programs that I have manually installed not in Synaptic aren't stored in the Home folder. How do I know what other folders I would need to backup? I am using Timeshift and I am pretty sure that covers everything except the Home folder right?
Timeshift is not a backup tool. It won't even allow you to restore to a different system. And while you can theoretically modify the snapshots to make that possible, the Timeshift version distributed with Mint is bugged and doesn't store all the files it should, anyway.

So if what you are actually trying to do is to clone your entire system from one computer to another, then using a tool like Clonezilla is probably what you want. See here: https://clonezilla.org/clonezilla-live-doc.php

yymbr
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by yymbr » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:04 am

Yeah I think cloning is maybe the more accurate thing then. I mean, basically what I do in windows is I run Richcopy which takes about an hour and copies new files or changed files to a different drive (my external for backups). That way if Windows ever crashes, or I need to move to a new computer, I can just copy everything over to the new computer, and the only thing I have to do is reinstall programs.

I do also make an image backup as well, but I have found that it doesn't seem to work very well if trying to move to another computer. So basically yeah I would really like to have something for Mint where I can just run a task that copies files to another drive and run it once a week to copy any changed or new files. Having the user settings (like desktop and preferences) from the Home folder would be useful as well.

Does cloning create an image file or does it create a replica of the files and structure so that you can navigate in it as if you were searching for files to open and delete on the main OS?

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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by gm10 » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:57 am

Cloning creates full image files. But if this is just for regular backups, then I'll pivot my recommendation again (for a moment I had thought you wanted to move to a different computer now). So:

- For regular, browsable backups of your user data use something like https://backintime.readthedocs.io/en/latest/
- Timeshift is fine for regular system snapshots to restore to the same machine (you'd have to edit the snapshot to switch out the UUID to let it restore to another disk). I do strongly suggest to use the current version from the official PPA https://launchpad.net/~teejee2008/+archive/ubuntu/ppa though, the Mint-distributed version has bugs but isn't getting any updates it seems.

yymbr
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by yymbr » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:53 am

Yeah sorry I was initially trying to restore to a new computer. But honestly I have never had a regular backup tool that does something other than an image. On Windows I use robocopy/richcopy which basically copys new files to another drive. So for example if I had a document on my main drive and accidentally deleted it, I could go to my other drive and find the most recent backup that I had and copy it back over. It is all automated too so it just runs when you click it and choose the from and to drives. Something like that would be ideal for linux.

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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by gm10 » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:20 am

yymbr wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:53 am
Yeah sorry I was initially trying to restore to a new computer. But honestly I have never had a regular backup tool that does something other than an image. On Windows I use robocopy/richcopy which basically copys new files to another drive. So for example if I had a document on my main drive and accidentally deleted it, I could go to my other drive and find the most recent backup that I had and copy it back over. It is all automated too so it just runs when you click it and choose the from and to drives. Something like that would be ideal for linux.
The term disk/partition image refers to a binary copy of an entire block device, not individual files. What you describe is the functionality of Back In Time and Timeshift, that I had recommended in my previous post. They are both GUI frontends for the same command line tool: rsync.

yymbr
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Re: Mint Backup Tool: unable to restore to a different Linux Mint machine

Post by yymbr » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:51 am

Yeah I actually just found Grsync which seems to be what I am looking for.

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