Backing up Ubuntu home folders through far cousin OS X

24/01/2015 at 6:20 pm Plaats een reactie

As a general rule, I always make a full backup of all personal folders on my home Ubuntu 12.04 machine at least every two weeks. I don’t use scheduled backups. Backup for a private machine is just a thing I like to do manually, on a lazy Saturday morning with my first cup of coffee. I use Deja-Dup, and backup to a local USB device, with sufficient free space. Normally, I just have to plug in the device, and then start the “all personal folders” backup with this terminal command: sudo deja-dup-preferences. I then backup to this NTFS formatted disk (name: TOSHIBA EXT). Note that the default name contains a space.  But why NTFS? Simply because I never bothered reformatting it as ext3, or whatever Linux file system. Until now, my Ubuntu 12.04 machine had always detected the USB disk, so why should I care?

This morning however, when plugging in the USB disk, it was not recognized by the operating system. Kernel problem? Hardware failure? I don’t know, and frankly, I don’t care too much…as long as I have my Saturday morning coffee and my weekly backup. I guess I’ll just have to wait for an Ubuntu update, to have the USB disk get detected again on my primary machine. And if really it’s a hardware problem, well, then let’s already look for a cheap alternative, and use it straightaway. And be creative, on a Saturday morning with a couple of coffees.

I also use a MacBook Air, that came with my new job as system administrator. I had already noticed that the backup USB disk was perfectly detected by this MacBook Air. So basically, I would have my backup, if I was able to access the USB disk, over my private network. Now I had two challenges:

– allow this MacBook to be accessible through SSH. Deja-Dup can use an SSH session for backup ;

– allow the NTFS disk to be read-writable, when attached to the MacBook. By default, NTFS devices are read-only when attached to Mac OS X.

Allow SSH on a MacBook is a breeze. Just start System Preferences – and allow SSH – see this print-screen.

Schermafbeelding 2015-01-24 om 18.03.17

Allowing an NTFS formatted USB drive to be read-writable on Mac OS X: well, just have a look at the following example, and create the /etc/fstab file with the following content:


toshiba usb etc fstab content


If you want to test it yourself, please notice how to escape the space in  the device name: backslash followed by 040.

Plug in the USB disk after creating this file, and you’re off!!! Your USB NTFS formatted disk will be accessible through SSH. And, thus, backup over SSH with Deja-Dup, to a MacBook with an NTFS formatted external disk.

Schermafdruk van 2015-01-25 10:06:13

Right now, my backup to the USB device, over SSH to the USB disk is running…

In the meantime I switched from coffee to a fine glass of wine, since I am writing this post in the evening. And off preparing some stamppot boerenkool for, my kids, my wife and me.


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