Is there an equivalent of system restore in Linux?

Asked by Lucky Luke W Hand

I browsed through all of the software and was unable to find an equivalent to System Restore. While I have a few issues with the Windows version (you cannot save specific System Restores, it keeps on writing over the old ones with new ones automatically and cannot be installed from outside Windows...) it is a good idea.

If there isn't a System Restore, can I copy the installation files to another hard drive to keep it as a backup?

My last question is with regard to the auto-bootup. I installed Linux on an external hard drive. The boot program will not start unless the external drive is connected, even if I want to use Windows? Can I fix this by copying files to the "c" drive?



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Jim Hutchinson
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Sam Cater (wraund-deactivatedaccount) said :

No you cant fix the problem by copying files to the C:\ drive, I wouldn't recommend that at all and could damage the software aspect of your computer system.

On the subject on System-Restore, although there is no unique program there are 2 primary ways to backup data and system state.

Try a backup utility that exists in the repo...

If it isnt too big or you have a lot of time, literally go to / in the file manager and highlight the lot and copy to another harddrive, should there be a major system failure you can just literally paste the whole lot back over and your system will be as it was (you may need to highlight /home, i am not sure....)

anything that you do to your computer after the backup will be lost however, if you understand how this works, you are literally copying the whole OS to another area.

You could always try and copy a select part i suppose. If you are worried about GRUB after a kernel or GRUB upgrade just backup only the /boot folder.

Hope this is of some use to you, I myself use backup utilities.


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Jo-Erlend Schinstad (joerlend.schinstad) said :

You might want to have a look at rdiff-backup. It allows for incremental backups, so you can have many different versions of the backup without using too much space.

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Lucky Luke W Hand (luke-w-hand) said :

Thanks for the assistance...

My personal data is all on external hard drives, and there are more than one copy of the important things, so I am not concerned with that. I am concerned with the time I invested in setting up Ubuntu - I want a system back-up (that will place me where I am now, with downloaded software, etc.)

While I am at it, I will likely place Ubuntu on more than just this laptop. I am curious if I can make another copy of my fully installed version and use the other hard drive to run another computer?

The boot loader question still baffles me. If I disconnect the external drive that contains Ubuntu the boot loader gives me an error message instead of allowing me to go to Windows XP. There must be files on the external drive that run the boot loader. I would like to be able to start the computer without the external drive connected in some occasions. How can I make the boot loader work when the external drive is not connected?

Thanks for your help and patience...

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Jim Hutchinson (jphutch) said :

This might answer your question about backing up your install. It just saves a list of what you have installed and if you reinstall will put it all back. Config files are another issue. Best to just save them somewhere.

You can also make a full backup with something like ghost 4 linux.

You can copy an install to another computer if it's the same computer (i.e. same hardware). If it's different you will want to install.

The GRUB problem is because the boot files needed for GRUB are on the external drive (the one with Ubuntu). If GRUB can't find the files then it can't load. The way to fix it, is to load GRUB on the external drive and use the BIOS to switch to boot that drive when you want to use it and let the main hard drive load windows normally. This is kind of a pain, though, and may not work if your laptop can't boot from USB. Best solution is to put ubuntu on the internal drive and dual boot that way - assuming you have enough space.

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Lucky Luke W Hand (luke-w-hand) said :

Thanks for the help...

There must be some file that initiates the grub bootup from C:/??? Now that Grub is installed, can I copy the files that run grub to the C:/ drive and modify the drives that Ubuntu and Windows start with (if necessary? This case would give me the opportunity to run windows whenever I want and run Ubuntu when the drive is hooked up.

It looks like a full backup of the system after initial install is the easiest way to reinstall personalized systems. The division of the hard drive should make tat easier. I do know when I have looked at Winborg (an ISO on DVD for installation of Windows along with the programs, you could alter the program selection. Is there a way to accomplish the same thing with the Ubuntu install?

By the way I am impressed with the quick answers I am getting... I really like the community spirit, we all get more by cooperating, thanks again...

Impressed Ubuntu convert...

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Best Jim Hutchinson (jphutch) said :

Chances are that when you installed Ubuntu it installed GRUB to the MBR of the main hard drive (the one with windows) but the files that GRUB calls are located on the Ubuntu drive. In most dual boot scenarios this isn't an issue as the files are on the Ubuntu partition on the same drive or another hard drive permanently installed in the system. They are in /boot/grub/ if you want to look. I don't know all the details about which files are important but I don't think you can move them to the windows drive. You would have to somehow reprogram GRUB to look at (and possibly even read the windows drive). I am not aware of any "good" solution for people wanting to dual boot a laptop with Ubuntu on an external drive. Best solution is to reinstall GRUB to the external drive and set the windows drive MBR back to normal (you need to boot the windows CD to do this - recover or restore or something). Then set the BIOS to boot from USB first. When it's attached it will load grub and Ubuntu. When not present, windows will boot normally.

I'm afraid I'm not following on the winborg part. Are you looking for a way to install Ubuntu plus a bunch of other stuff at the same time? If so, I'm not aware of anything that does that. Ubuntu's goal is to give you most of what most people need on install. Windows doesn't give you open office, torrent tools, and a host of others that are included in Ubuntu. If you need more then Synaptic can add just about anything else you need. Easiest way to automate that for subsequent installs is to make a list (ala the link above) of everything installed and then just run the command to pull all those in.

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Lucky Luke W Hand (luke-w-hand) said :

Thanks for the help...

My reason for wanting to customize the list before loading Ubuntu was simply to make installation of multiple systems (with the customizations I choose) more automatic. I will play around with the list.

It looks like I will have to repair the windows boot files. Cest la vie.

Have a great night and thanks for your time...

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curtiswtaylorjr (curtiswtaylorjr) said :

Try TimeVault just do a google search for it. I just started using it this week and so far so good haven't really had a need for it yet. It has a nice gui and support through Launchpad. It is configurable and really backs up files and not just the registry there are alot of options but not too confusing. It is installable via a deb installation file. But not available through Synaptic Package Manager. Hope this helps.

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Lucky Luke W Hand (luke-w-hand) said :

I'll try it, thanks for the help.

Registry files (or their equivalent) are my concern. File backup is not an issue right now.