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I am replacing an old Linux file server serving NFS and CIFS. For the new server (still serving CIFS and NFS), I would like to have software that automatically and efficiently maintains old revisions of files in parallel trees, so that they can be accessed by users without special tools. I am looking for software that is akin to Time Machine or Flyback, but works well on a server.

The dataset is some 10000 files weighing maybe 60 GB. Changes are relatively few, usually less than 100 files changes daily.

Using LVM snapshots will not cut it, as the old revisions must reside on a separate set of disks from the live data.

Edit: To clarify: keeping old revisions is non-vital addition to the solution, so any suggestion will have to stay in the range of some hundred euros.

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Sounds like you want a NetApp or ZFS appliance - would these make sense in your environment? – MikeyB Mar 18 '11 at 20:25
I second the NetApp suggestion. – ztron Mar 18 '11 at 20:53
NetApp seems pricey from what I can find out. I'm trying to add value to the solution for the cost of a few extra disks. There seems to be some interesting ZFS alternatives, tho. Merits further investigation. – Bittrance Mar 18 '11 at 21:02
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Many people use rsync and hard links for this. Mike Rubel wrote the classic guide, Easy Automated Snapshot-Style Backups with Linux and Rsync. You could write your own script to do it or use an existing one like rsnapshot.

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rsnapshot seems like a good candidate at a quick reading. I will investigate. Thx. – Bittrance Mar 18 '11 at 22:42
dirvish is a similar tool – Zoredache Mar 18 '11 at 23:01

You could use FreeBSD and ZFS. ZFS is a real cool system and you can put the whole system in ZFS its a bit tricky to install but here are some informations. ZFS

In the ZFS system you can say in which interval you want a snapshot. You can configure a lot. Its possible that he can pack old versions. For example: The first 12 hours you have a snaphot every 30 minutes. Afer the 12 hours he pack it to every three hours. After a month you can set it to weekly or monthly.

Over your share you can access to a share named ".zfs" here are all snapshots with time and date. You can go to the folder and pick the file.

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While the idea is tempting, I fear I would be lynched for installing FreeBSD on the common fileserver. ;) – Bittrance Mar 18 '11 at 22:39

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