[SOLVED]Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

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Glitched
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[SOLVED]Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:57 am

1st: Moderators, I'm sorry if this topic has been beat to death. I'm still unclear on what constitutes "hijacking" a thread. I would have liked to asked a few questions on a couple of similar threads that were somewhat recent. I.E. viewtopic.php?f=42&t=272993

I've read the above link (and many other post, how-to's, etc) and still have some simple questions.

Preface:
I've been testing various distros for 2 weeks. I'm thoroughly in love with Mint Mate. I've already had to re-install a few times bc I'm a newb. Not a problem really. But everytime I do, I have to do a few things all over again to get back to a solid baseline how I like it. Updates, nvidia driver, firefox w/ my bookmarks, steam, etc.Right now, I am at that stage, where almost everything is at fresh install level and working. I'd like to make a back-up now before I go any further. On top of that, I would like to keep it strictly to Timeshift for now bc it is what comes with Mint by default. I'd rather not mess with adding new repos to the PPAs to get Aptik or any other type of back-up software. I'd also like to refrain from using 2 different backup managers. I very much would like to K.I.S.S.

My Simple HD/Partition Setup
/dev/nvme0n1 1TB nvme drive
/dev/nvme0n1p1 fat32 UEFI
/dev/nvme0n1p2 ext4 Mint Mate

/dev/sda 2TB HDD
/dev/sda1 NTFS /media/(myusername)/HD is the mount point Has all my data from over the years

/dev/sdb 1TB external HDD
/dev/sdb1 ext4 /media/(myusername)/HD is this mount point Empty and where I want to store my Timeshift backups


I'd like to backup my nvme (mate with all of it's software and settings) and put the timeshift backup on sdb (my external drive) without ever messing with sda (my very important real data drive).

From all the reading I've done, it says Timeshift backs up my system settings. Well what constitutes system settings? Just the kernel? Any updates I've done?
What about programs I've tweaked right after install or the desktop theme that I've customized?

I've read that Timeshift does not, by default, backup the home directory and that it should not be used for that. Why not? Something about it writing over the home folder. Does that mean that if I backed up home, saved a new document, but then had to do an emergency restore, I would lose only that new document? I'm ok with that. I would like to include my home folder (and the hidden ./ folders inside home) bc that is where steam and the steam games get installed to. I'm getting tired of re-downloading my favorite game.

I also read that timeshift, by default, does not include /mnt in it's default backup settings. What about my 2TB drive mounted at /media? I don't want it to include that.


So that is it I guess. Sorry for the wall of text. I just wanted to be clear.
Thank You So Very Much.
Last edited by Glitched on Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:36 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by catweazel » Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:02 am

Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:57 am
I've been testing various distros for 2 weeks. I'm thoroughly in love with Mint Mate. I've already had to re-install a few times bc I'm a newb. Not a problem really. But everytime I do, I have to do a few things all over again to get back to a solid baseline how I like it.
For that, once your system is in the state you wish it to remain in, use a disk imaging package such as clonezilla or the free version of Macrium Reflect. You will need a windwoes machine to create the live media for Macrium.
Glitched wrote:I've read that Timeshift does not, by default, backup the home directory and that it should not be used for that. Why not?
Timeshift is a system snapshot and snapshot restore tool. It is not a backup program.
"There is, ultimately, only one truth -- cogito, ergo sum -- everything else is an assumption." - Me, my swansong.

Glitched
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Mon Oct 14, 2019 3:53 am

Thanks catweazel :) I instantly recognized your name and profile pic from reading other post on this forum :) I feel honored. I guess now I have to learn the difference between snapshots and backups. Still though, it does seem like Timeshift is exactly what I would want to use in this scenario. What else would it be good for?

"Timeshift is an open-source system restore tool that creates incremental filesystem snapshots using either of 2 modes: BTRFS snapshots or rsync+hardlinks.
With it, you can schedule backups at multiple levels using filters and the backups can be restored from Live CD/USB or directly from the system while it is running.
The goal of Timeshift is to maintain the history and integrity of your file system files and settings and not to back up your media files or documents. To do that, you will need a different backup app."

"RSYNC Mode backups are made using rsync and hard-links and while each snapshot is a FULL BACKUP that can be browsed using a file manager, all snapshots share common files in order to save disk space."


I live in America, so everything is right side up.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by gm10 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:05 am

Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:57 am
From all the reading I've done, it says Timeshift backs up my system settings. Well what constitutes system settings? Just the kernel? Any updates I've done?
What about programs I've tweaked right after install or the desktop theme that I've customized?
Everything that's not user-specific, because:
Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:57 am
I've read that Timeshift does not, by default, backup the home directory and that it should not be used for that. Why not? Something about it writing over the home folder. Does that mean that if I backed up home, saved a new document, but then had to do an emergency restore, I would lose only that new document?
Timeshift will restore the state as it was when you took the snapshot. If you include your home folder then the same applies, anything you did after the snapshot was taken will be gone if you restore it.
Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:57 am
I would like to include my home folder (and the hidden ./ folders inside home) bc that is where steam and the steam games get installed to. I'm getting tired of re-downloading my favorite game.
This one I don't understand. Why would you have to re-download your favorite game? As you noted yourself, Timeshift does, by default, ignore your home folder, so if you restore a snapshot taken with default settings nothing in your home folder will be changed and your games will still be there.
Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 2:57 am
I also read that timeshift, by default, does not include /mnt in it's default backup settings. What about my 2TB drive mounted at /media? I don't want it to include that.
/media is also excluded by default. Go Timeshift > Settings > Filters > Summary to see the totality of exclusions.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:20 am

"This one I don't understand. Why would you have to re-download your favorite game? As you noted yourself, Timeshift does, by default, ignore your home folder, so if you restore a snapshot taken with default settings nothing in your home folder will be changed and your games will still be there."

That's a great point. I guess bc I believed that any tweaks I've made to system settings and programs are stored in the hidden folders located in the home drive. For example my compiz settings. or the settings in .config. So say I was messing around with my themes or my startup list and messed it up. I could then restore a snapshot of my home folder.

I guess at this point I could just try it and see what happens. I'll make a snapshot of / (excluding /media and /mnt) save it to my external hard drive. then i'll go and mess something up. Say installing all of the pulse audio apps and then try to remove all of the alsa stuff. I've done this before and I know I'll lose my volume control. (I know that alsa is hardware sub-layer and pulse is the user interface blanket on top of that.) Then I'll try and restore and see what happens.

My biggest concern is that as I try to familiarize myself with Mint, I end up downloading additional libs. Then, if I decide I don't like something and uninstall, I'm worried that there will be a lot of left over, unused libs and configs floating around.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by catweazel » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:27 am

Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:20 am
as I try to familiarize myself with Mint...
Use virtualbox.
"There is, ultimately, only one truth -- cogito, ergo sum -- everything else is an assumption." - Me, my swansong.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by gm10 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:29 am

Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:20 am
My biggest concern is that as I try to familiarize myself with Mint, I end up downloading additional libs. Then, if I decide I don't like something and uninstall, I'm worried that there will be a lot of left over, unused libs and configs floating around.
As long as you are installing from the official repositories then you can assume that everything is reasonably well packaged, allowing the package management system to clean up after you remove something. You can do it manually but I also added an "Automatic Maintenance Service" to LM 19.2's Update Manager that you can enable to do a weekly cleanup for you.

What will stay behind is anything written to your home folder, software uninstallation always leaves your user settings alone so they will be there when you reinstall an application. It is a bit harder to clean that up should you desire to - just enable hidden file view in your file browser and look around, you'll see what I mean. Usually it's just some small files that don't really matter if they stick around though. What can grow over time is the ~/.cache folder, but you can clean that up fairly indiscriminately should you want to.

Somewhat related: You can also reinstall your system without overwriting your home folder, that way you can wipe the slate clean without losing any of your user-specific settings.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:54 am

I've definitely been sticking with the software and package manager for the reasons of 1)software specifically for this distro and 2)clean uninstalls. That's why I'm opposing the idea of using something like aptik or clonezilla? Last install I had come across a program for removing orphaned libs and configs. That seemed to work fine I guess.

Use VB he says. Ha :lol: I can't even customize my themes or volume controller without breaking something. :) Heck I'm even having a hard time figuring out the basics of Timestamp. I'll just keep learning by diving in I guess. That's ok though, I've gotten really good at...

parted /dev/nvme0n1
mklabel gpt
mkpart primary fat32 1MiB 550MiB
set 1 esp on

mkpart primary ext4 550MiB 100%

For some reason when I use the Gparted/Gpart Live CD I can't see the box you would use to set the boot flag. It's too small to read anything in it when I scroll with the mouse wheel.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Pjotr » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:10 am

Glitched wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:54 am
Last install I had come across a program for removing orphaned libs and configs. That seemed to work fine I guess.
Watch out for those high-risk software wrecking balls.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by gittiest personITW » Mon Oct 14, 2019 6:25 am

Hi,
Definitely worth downloading Aptik from the Software Manager.
You can pick and choose what settings it backs up. Looks handy but haven't had to try it yet as Timeshift seems to have done a beautiful job of being a safety net. No harm in having 2 safety nets though.
If you don't like it, it can be safely uninstalled throught the Software Manager.

Clonezilla - If you are looking to back up your system disk, then it is a waste of time downloading it through the Software Manager anyway as you won't be able to use it while you are using Mint. Your best bet is to burn a Clonezilla image to a boot USB/DVD then run it from boot.
The only reason to install Clonezilla into Mint is if you wanted to clone a non-system disk. I'm not sure how well it works within Mint anyway but I'm sure someone can let you know.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by pbear » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:12 pm

I do data file backups with rsync (command line), but many users swear by Back in Time, which is similar to Timeshift but designed for data files rather than system. Available in repo, so Software Manager or Synaptic (no PPA).

Clonezilla, by the way, doesn't get installed. You download an ISO and burn to USB or DVD same as a live Mint ISO. You run it from there, cloning from source (your internal drive) to a USB hard drive.

And there's no box for the boot flag in GParted. Right-click the partition and select Manage Flags.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:34 am

Just need some clarification on this stage.
What is the difference between include hidden and include all? Wouldn't Include all mean it also includes hidden? If that is true, then what is the point of include hidden? I can only select 1 and I would like to include my hidden files along with non-hidden (visible).
timeshift filter.png




P.S.-both images were taken directly from linux.org (https://www.linux.org/threads/timeshift ... ups.18863/) which completely glosses over information on the filter settings. As do most of the forums, post and how-to's that I've read. They all say the same basic thing, which is just an exact duplication of what you are looking at when using the program. No detailed explanation of what you are looking at or what it does. For example:
timeshift drive selection.jpg
Would be nice if header said "This is where /timeshift files are saved to." For the longest time I thought this was the selection for which partition could be snapshotted. Yes, I see it in italics at the bottom, but it is still a little vague. To me it seems like a general notice for the whole program...and not this actual stage of the wizard.

This is why I am asking you guys. Thank You So Very Much. I'm almost there and can "Solve".

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by gm10 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:49 am

Rather than third-hand knowledge, just refer to the author's site, where it is all explained:
https://github.com/teejee2008/timeshift ... hift-v18.1

That advice goes for everything by the way.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:56 am

Thanks GM10. I'm reading it now. Thanks for your replies. Thank you everyone who replied. I think I have it now. I'm going to mark as solved, as soon as I know how. Then I'm going to make a snapshot and test it in various ways.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - [SOLVED]A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:57 am

That worked out great. I made a snapshot of everything (home, root, hidden files), and had it saved to my external HDD.
I then deleted a game in .steam in the home folder. a folder in /lib and i deleted a file in /usr.
Then I tweaked and turned off some settings in Compiz.
I also added a folder in /home "New Test Folder" that was not included in the snapshot to see if it would get overwritten.
I rebooted and had lost my mint menu icon and and time display plus a game that would have taken an hour to download. And whatever the file in /usr did.
I then did a restore, leaving the default settings. The whole process took about 7 minutes tops. And after reboot, everything was right back where it was when I created the snapshot. :D :D Appears it did exactly what I had hoped it would do.

Odd thing though...the new "Test Folder" was still in /home. Even though it wasn't there when I created the initial snapshot. I thought new stuff got overwritten/deleted when restoring. Makes me wonder if new libs and configs from downloaded packages (that aren't there when I make a snapshot), would also remain after a restore. I'm going to test that out next.


I'm also curious about what happens when I restore a newer snapshot. I know newer ones make symlinks to the originals. So it should be the original plus new. So I guess when I select the newer one, it will be any new changes on top of the original snapshot right?

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - [SOLVED]A Few Basic Questions

Post by gm10 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:28 am

Glitched wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:57 am
Odd thing though...the new "Test Folder" was still in /home. Even though it wasn't there when I created the initial snapshot. I thought new stuff got overwritten/deleted when restoring.
No, you only specifically included your own user's home folder, other content in /home is still excluded from the snapshot.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - [SOLVED]A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:50 am

gm10 wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:28 am
Glitched wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:57 am
Odd thing though...the new "Test Folder" was still in /home. Even though it wasn't there when I created the initial snapshot. I thought new stuff got overwritten/deleted when restoring.
No, you only specifically included your own user's home folder, other content in /home is still excluded from the snapshot.
I guess I wasn't specific. I set my timeshift filter to include /root & /home & hidden files of both. So that should be everything on my partition. Excluding /cdrom, /mnt, and /media. I then created a snapshot. After that process, I added "Test Folder" to /home/cmdrstorm. I'm the only user. I also deleted a hidden folder inside of /home/cmdrstorm. Then did a restore using the previous snapshot, which should not have had "Test Folder" in it. The folder I deleted was brought back. And "Test Folder" was still there.

That's what is throwing me for a loop. Everyone says you shouldn't use Timeshift to backup your home folder bc when you do a restore, it will write over anything new added. But that was not the case. So it actually seems like Timeshift is great for backing up your home folder.

I could try again. I'll delete my snapshot. Reboot just cause. Create a new snapshot. reboot. add "test folder" to /home/cmdrstorm. reboot. then restore snapshot and see what happens.

Edit***My bad. I had selected Include Hidden Files on setup wizard. I had mistakenly read the authors notes on GitHub (link above). I thought Include all was for visible and Include Hidden was for all+hidden. All means "ALL". So since "Test Folder" was visible, it was never overwritten bc it was not part of the original snapshot setting of include hidden. Not Include All.
Last edited by Glitched on Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by gm10 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:04 am

Either you did something wrong with your filters or that's a bug in Timeshift that I have not run into.
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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:08 am

gm10 wrote:
Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:04 am
Either you did something wrong with your filters or that's a bug in Timeshift that I have not run into.
I did something wrong. I edited my post above to reflect that.

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Re: Timeshift and the Settings Cont. - A Few Basic Questions

Post by Glitched » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:30 am

I've done 3 test so far where I've added stuff, deleted stuff, and changed configs and everytime Timeshift restore has put everything back to the way it was when I created the snapshot. Which is great and I'm thrilled for that.

What I don't understand is, if my snapshot file is only 8.5GB (and the filter is set to include all) and I delete a game from ~/.steam/.steamapps, then how is Timeshift able to rebuild all those files of that game? The game itself was 7.2GB alone.

I'm happy that Timeshift is doing what it's supposed to, I just don't see how it's at all possible. I really like the idea of incremental backups. For when I install or configure an app that bugs with another app I'm using and I don't know how to fix it. Seems like Timeshift is perfect for that.

I believe Clonezilla would just make an actual copy of everything on this partition. Wouldn't that just be the same as me highlighting everything after / and just dragging it over and copying it to my external HDD? The only difference then being how those files are restored right? Clonezilla would put everything back, and anything new wouldn't exist anymore.

But if I were to highlight and drag all the folders from external HDD, then the 2 would just Merge right? And any new files would still exist. And presumably those new files would be what caused bugs in the first place.

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