Backup Files from Your Linux Desktop with Pybackpack


BackupAs you probably know, there are a number of great web apps for backing up your files. Many of us here at Techerator are partial to Dropbox.

That said, for some people cloud-based storage is overkill. Others have serious reservations about trusting their files to others. Fair enough. So what can they do?

Well, they can manually copy their important files to a CD or a DVD, or they upload them to a personal web server. Those solutions are fine, but they also require manual intervention. Anyway, what’s the point of having a computer if you can’t let it do the heavy lifting for you?

If you use a Linux distribution with the GNOME desktop, you can use Pybackpack. It’s a simple but effective graphical tool that enables you to save your important files to a CD or DVD, a folder on your local file system, or even a remote web server.

Let’s take a look at how to use Pybackpack.

Downloading and Installing the Software

Before you download Pybackpack, make sure that the following software is installed on your computer:

  • Python
  • PyGTK
  • PyGlade
  • rdiff-backup
  • genisoimage

If you plan to back up your data to a CD or DVD, you’ll also need Nautilus CD Burner. To be honest, I find using CDs and DVDs to be a waste, but your mileage may vary. You probably have most of the software listed above installed on your computer. Anything you don’t have you can install using your package manager.

You can download Pybackpack here. The latest version is 0.5.8. Once you’ve downloaded Pybackpack, extract the contents of the archive to somewhere on your hard drive. Then, crack open a terminal window and navigate to that directory.

Run the following commands:

python build sudo python install 

Getting Started

Launch Pybackpack by pressing ALT+F2. In the Run Application dialog box, type pybackpack and then press Enter.

Pybackpack main window

If you want to copy the contents of your /home directory to a CD or DVD, make sure there’s a writable disk in your CD/DVD drive and then click Go. But, as I mentioned earlier, I find backing up to a CD or DVD to be a waste. You can generally only use them once. And you might not want to back up your entire /home directory.

Pybackpack enables you to back up specific folders and files. You do this by creating backup sets. Using backup sets makes a lot more sense. You can make copies of important files, and even group sets of similar files and folders together. Doing that makes your backups easier to manage.

Creating Backup Sets

In the Pybackpack window, click the Backup tab.

Backup tab

Select New backup set from the list and then click Edit. This starts a wizard that will walk you through the process of creating a backup set.

Creating a backup set - step 1

Click Forward. In the Backup Set Name window, enter the following information:

  • Name of the backup set. Make it descriptive or at least short and to the point.
  • An optional short description.

Then, select where you want to back up your files from the Destination type list. You can save them to a CD or DVD, somewhere on your computer, or to a remote server. Let’s assume you want to save the files to a web server. Select Remote Host (SSH) from the Destination type list. Then, fill in the following information:

  • Username – The name you use to log into the server.
  • Host – The address of the server.
  • Path – The directory on the server in which you want to save your files.

Creating a backup set - step 2

Click Forward. In the next window, select the file and/or folders that you want to include in the backup set by click them in the directory tree and then clicking the Include in set button.

Creating a backup set - step 3

Click Forward. You’re taken to a summary window. If you need to make changes, click the Back button. Otherwise click Forward to save the backup set.

Creating a backup set - step 4

Performing a Backup

When you’re ready to backup your files, select the backup set in the Pybackpack window.

Doing a backup

Then, click the Backup button. Depending on the number and size of the files you’re backing up, and where you’re backing them up to, the process could take a few seconds to a few minutes.

Restoring Your Backups

You might want to do that once in a while. Click the Restore tab in the Pybackpack window. Then click either Local (somewhere on your computer or on a CD/DVD) or Remote (SSH). In either case, enter the path to the directory containing the backup that you want to restore.

If you have multiple backups, you can select the one that you want to restore from the Restore as of list. Then, click the Restore button.

Restoring a backup

Final Thoughts

Pybackpack is a very flexible and very easy-to-use tool. It’s easy to use and offers several options. While it’s not designed to back up your entire system, Pybackpack does a solid job of backing up your important files and folders.

Photo credit: svilen001

Using the Linux Command Line with Nautilus Terminal

Nautilus logo

Nautilus logoOne myth about Linux that just won’t die is that you absolutely need to understand and use the command line to get the most out of it. I know a number of Linux users who’ve never cracked open a terminal window, and they’re quite happy.

That said, I find the command line to be an essential part of my toolkit. And, like much in the Linux world, there are a number of options for getting to the command line. One of my favorites is an add-on for the Nautilus file manager called Nautilus Terminal.

Let’s take a look at it.

A Terminal in Nautilus?

That’s what’s advertised, and that’s what you get. Nautilus Terminal embeds a terminal at the top of the Nautilus window. You can run any command from Nautilus Terminal and no matter what directory you’re in, that’s where the terminal opens.

Nautilus Terminal

And if you move around directories in Nautilus, the terminal follows you. So, if you start in /usr/local/bin and move to the directory /usr/share, Nautilus Terminal changes to /usr/share automatically. No need to use the cd command to move around.

Getting Up and Running

That’s pretty easy. You can download the source code for Nautilus Terminal and compile it yourself. Or, you can get packages for Ubuntu, Fedora, Frugalware, and Gentoo. The Nautilus Terminal download page explains how to get those packages.

Once you’ve installed Nautilus Terminal, fire up Nautilus. The embedded terminal will be open.

Customizing Nautilus Terminal

I don’t know about you, but I find having the terminal open all of the time a bit annoying. It takes up a lot of space and can be distracting. You can either click the Close button to hide the terminal, or you can change the settings by clicking the Preferences icon.

Setting preferences

In the Preferences window, click the Start Nautilus Terminal hidden checkbox.

Notice that you can also change:

  • The number of lines to display in the terminal window
  • Whether or not to show a scrollbar
  • The shape of the cursor in the terminal
  • The colors that you use with Nautilus Terminal
  • The font used in the terminal

Using Nautilus Terminal

Let’s assume you’ve set up Nautilus Terminal to hide until you need it. Whenever you need to use Nautilus Terminal, just click the Show button. From there, type the command(s) that you need to run and then press Enter.

Nautilus Terminal in action

Then, click the Close button and continue with what you’re doing.

While I don’t spend an enormous amount of time in Nautilus, I do quite a bit of work — file management, maintenance, and the like — with it every day. Having an embedded terminal window makes it easier on those frequent occasions when I need to use the command line.

Fedora 12: What To Expect From The Next Fedora Release

fedora-logoIt’s already been 6 months since Fedora 11 “Leonidas” was released, which means its time for a new version.  With the release of Fedora 12 “Constantine” happening in just less then a week, you may be wondering what exactly the new version contains.  I’ve had some time to play around with Fedora 12  and will highlight some of the major features in this newest release.

Gnome 2.28

The change to Gnome 2.28 in Fedora 12 will bring many updated features to users.  One new feature is the added Gnome Bluetooth manager which supports hundreds of keyboards, mice and headsets.  PulseAudio integration has also been added, allowing support for Bluetooth speakers.

Another change included in Gnome 2.28 is the change to Empathy as the default instant messaging client.  Major features included in Empathy include audio and video support, geolocation of contacts, and multi-protocol support.  Empathy users also have the ability to share their desktop with the Gnome Remote Desktop Viewer, Vino.

Cheese, the Gnome webcam application, includes several updates in Gnome 2.28.  Cheese now has the ability to take several photographs at one time, allowing users to specify number of photos and time delay between the photos.

The user interface to Cheese has also been optimized for use on netbooks.  The image bar, previously located on the bottom of the main window, has now been moved to the right side.  This change allows Cheese to make use of the wide area offered by a netbook screen.

Change to i686 architecture

A major change implemented in the Fedora 11 release was the move to the i586 architecture, dropping support for most processors previous to the Pentium.  This change was a stepping stone for the change to the i686 architecture in Fedora 12.  Changing binaries to i686 will allow packages to be optimized for today’s modern processors, including the Intel Atom.  Benefits include faster binaries and fewer kernel builds for developers.  Processors that will no longer be supported include the original Intel Pentium and AMD Geode, along with other similar lines.

Improved Webcam Support

Included in Fedora 12 is better out-of-the-box webcam support.  Fedora developers have done testing with 50+ of the most common webcams, looking at aspects such as performance and video quality.  Testing also included playback of recorded webcam videos through several common applications such as Cheese, Ekiga, Camorama, VLC, MPlayer, and Skype.  A list of webcams tested can be found at the Fedora 12 Feature Page.

Fedora Studio

Previous versions of Fedora grouped all audio and video applications into the Sound & Video application group in Gnome.  This structure made it difficult to determine what applications were used for, often confusing users.  With Fedora 12, applications have been categorized into common groups, making the ever increasing number of multimedia applications easier to navigate for all users.

PackageKit Browser Plugin

A task that can still be difficult with any Linux distribution is the installation of new packages.  Fedora 12 includes a new feature that hopes to make this process easier.  Included in Fedora 12 is a PackageKit Browser Plugin that will allow users to install missing packages from a web browser environment without having to issue yum commands from the terminal.

From the PackageKit development page:

This is a very simple browser plugin that is meant to allow a website to add a box to allow to install or run a particular piece of software provided in their distribution’s repositories.

The features covered in this article are just a few of the improvements that you can expect to see in Fedora 12. For a complete list, checkout the Fedora 12 Feature List.  Fedora 12 will be released on November 17th.