Rob Moore on 6 Mar 2009 12:43:41 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Backup Software Recommendation?

Thanks for all the input! I'll buy the book.

Re: your note. Yeah, I tried that once, a few months back. Tried to download and install the Linux backup agent from Symantec. After a lot of messing about and no luck, I found that it doesn't support Debian. I have learned just to use the package management system.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of JP Vossen
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2009 2:46 PM
Subject: Re: [PLUG] Backup Software Recommendation?

 > Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2009 14:12:09 -0500
 > From: Rob Moore <>
 > I'm now in the process of configuring my first production Linux server
 > (Debian 5.0). This server is going to be used to back up (to tape) our
 > other Linux servers. The backup would be pretty simple-just four
 > servers to back up, using DDS4 tapes. A GUI interface is fairly
 > important, as I'm not that adept with the command line.
 > Our former Linux guy has cobbled together some sort of solution that
 > we don't like much. He recommended trying Amanda or Bacula-said he'd
 > heard good things. From the reading I've done, Amanda doesn't seem to
 > have a GUI, and Bacula looks very complex. I read about DAR and KDAR,
 > which sound possible. I don't have any experience to judge what might
 > be right for us, though. Anyone have any input on one of these, or
 > some other suggestion?

I strongly recommend reading _Backup & Recovery_, it covers both of the 
above, plus many more issues and solutions.  Here is my review on the 
PANTUG site:
O'Reilly - Backup & Recovery
Tuesday, 10 June 2008 10:20
by W. Curtis Preston and published by O'Reilly & Associates in December, 

This is a great book. If you are a system administrator, even if only 
for your home network, you should get this book. Windows-only shops will 
not get nearly as much out of it, only because most of the best FOSS 
tools (e.g., Amanda, BackupPC) require Unix/Linux tools and/or file 
systems. But the section on Exchange will make up for that if a) you are 
running Exchange and b) don't already have a commercial tool. Even if 
you do have commercial tools this book is well worth the time, just to 
spark ideas and see what else is out there.

See the URL above for the table of contents, index, etc. Be aware, this 
is a big book, with a lot of in-depth information.

The coverage of the big FOSS tools is great (see 
for some of those chapters), and the sections on bare-metal recovery, 
near-CDP (constant data protection), and backing up databases are 
priceless. And somehow I've previously managed to miss the fact that 
Linux LVM ( ) 
can do file system snapshots (pg 650)! That will really improve how I do 
MySQL backups!

Pretty much no matter what hardware, operating systems and applications 
you have, there's something in this book for you. I really can't say 
enough good things about it, so rather than go on for pages I'll just 
say, go check out the table of contents, and then buy it.

The site has a ton more info, and a wiki 
page for each chapter of the book.

Personally, I use BackupPC, which I found reasonably simple to set up a 
while ago and it's improved a bit since then.  But I'm also a Perl geek, 
which was a big help.  And it doesn't do tape, which is a show stopper 
for you.

This list of possible backup tools is excerpted from one of my Debian 
Lenny servers:

$ apt-cache search backup
afbackup-client - Client-Server Backup System (Client side)
afbackup - Client-Server Backup System (Server side)
afbackup-common - Client-Server Backup System (common files)
amanda-client - Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver (Client)
amanda-server - Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver (Server)
backuppc - high-performance, enterprise-grade system for backing up PCs
bacula-client - network backup, recovery and verification - client 
bacula-common - network backup, recovery and verification - common 
support files
bacula-console - network backup, recovery and verification - text console
bacula-console-qt - Bacula Administration Tool Console
bacula-console-wx - network backup, recovery and verification - 
WxWindows console
boxbackup-client - client for the BoxBackup remote backup system
boxbackup-server - server for the BoxBackup remote backup system
flexbackup - Flexible backup tool for small to medium sized installations
kdat - a KDE tape backup tool
keep - backup system for KDE
partimage - backup partitions into a compressed image file
partimage-server - server to use partimage across a network
slbackup-php - web-based administration tool for slbackup
slbackup - Skolelinux Backup system

Get more information about one that sounds interesting like this:

$ apt-cache show afbackup
Package: afbackup
Priority: optional
Description: Client-Server Backup System (Server side)
  This is a client-server backup system offering several workstations a
  centralized backup to a special backup server. Backing up only one
  computer is easily possible, too. Any streaming device can be used
  for writing the data to it, usually this will be a tape
  device. Writing backups is normally done sequentially: The next
  writing to tape goes to the end of the previous write no matter where
  you have restored from in the meantime.
   - Authentication of the client is performed before it can take over 
   - Access restriction for the streamer device -> security
   - Client-side per-file compression -> reliability
   - Data stream is written to tape in pieces -> fast finding of files
   - Tape position logging for each file
   - Tape capacity is fully used
   - Full / incremental backups
   - Raw partitions can be backed up
   - Client and Server buffering for maximal throughput is done
  Note: Tk is required if you want to use the graphical configuration
  tool instead of the text configuration tool.

You also might want to read my package management page at:

And on a related note, as a newbie, try REALLY, REALLY hard not to go 
outside the package management system, you will cause a lot more trouble 
and work for yourself if you do.  In other words, only use programs from 
the repos, don't try to download, compile and install them yourself. 
(Doing that is a great "learning experience"--not what you want to have 
on a production server. :)

Good luck,
JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|
My Account, My Opinions     |=========|
"Microsoft Tax" = the additional hardware & yearly fees for the add-on
software required to protect Windows from its own poorly designed and
implemented self, while the overhead incidentally flattens Moore's Law.
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