Backing up with Unison and cleaning up with FSlint in Ubuntu

Backing up

At the moment my workplace is in the jungle and I’ve started hearing from my neighbors how their laptops are breaking down. The reasons could be overheating, too much humidity and/or corrosive salt in the air since we are close to the ocean too.

That in turn got me interested in backup solutions for Linux. I knew I wanted more than some command line rsync, one of the major positives of GUIs is that you don’t have to read manual pages for half a day before you’re ready to rock’n roll. My specific situation is wanting to backup a few local folders to an external USB HD.

I began by trying out BackupPC which was a horrible experience. The web based GUI is ridiculously hard to understand, screw that, how hard can it be to create something with two text fields and a button: Source dir, Destination dir and Go!?

Next up was Sbackup, which had a much better GUI, it was very easy to set things up, just one little problem: Nothing happened when I pressed Backup! A backup software that won’t backup is of course useless so I continued down the list with Unison.

Finally everything came together, I had a simple GUI where I even could manage which sub-folders were going to be synced, awesome! There was just one small problem: Unison won’t work with non Linux file systems and my external hard drive was ntfs… So I reformatted it to ext4. After that it was a smooth ride, it was exactly what I wanted.

Cleaning up

Before I wanted to actually start the backup process I thought it would be a good idea to clean up both the directories to be backed up and the contents of the target USB drive, to save space and synchronization time.

After some research I decide to try out FSlint and this time around I hit the jackpot right away. There’s not really a lot to say about FSlint, the interface is so simple. One thing though, in order to actually do the cleaning up once you have found a lot of duplicates you choose Select -> within groups -> all but oldest for instance and then you click Delete.

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