Browseable backups with rdiff-backup and archfs

Note: archfs is now rdiff-backup-fs (see comment below).
In contrast to tools like rsnapshot, which always backs up full versions, rdiff-backup saves only incremental changes in diff files, which takes much less space (and can take a lot of time, too). Because of this it is rather unsuitable for browsing different versions, which is where archfs cuts in.
You need:
  • rdiff-backup (Python script, in main repo)
  • librsync (from repos, or patched sources, see below)
  • Keep (rdiff-backup-frontend, e.g. from the community repos)
  • archfs
  • fuse-devel

librsync seems to be a bit of a zombie (no updates since 2004), but there is a patch from 2006 to fix a serious problem with files greater that 4GB. Run the patch linked in the bug report in the directory above (check the paths in the patch file) the extracted librsync sources:
patch -p0 < 4Gigbug.patch
If you don't have large files, the openSuSE rpm should also work.
archfs: install the tarball and create a mount point, e.g.:
sudo mkdir /media/archives

sudo chown yourname /media/archives
Note: I tried to use a root-owned mount folder with read/execute access, but after the archfs mount all permissions were screwed up. However, the mounted archive is always read-only, so you're on the safe side even if you have full access to the mount point.
Usage: back up with Keep or the rdiff-backup script from command line. With
archfs -r <backuplocation> -m /media/archives/
you will get a browseable archive with version folders listed by date.
sudo umount /media/archives
Use the keep wizard to restore old versions.
OK, OK, the Time Machine has definitely a flashier GUI…


Filip GruszczyƄski said...


I have moved and renamed archfs project. It's now called rdiff-backup-fs and can be found here: http://code.google.com/p/rdiff-backup-fs/ I have also released a completely new version with samo major changes. Hope you find it useful.

avocadohead said...

Thanks, Filip, I'll mention it in the post and see whether it needs any further updates.
Let me add that archfs was incredibly useful during my thesis writeup, so thanks a lot!

Filip GruszczyƄski said...

I'm glad my software could help you :-)