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We have a network admin who is a Windows expert. Which is good, since we have a largely Windows network. However, there are 2 Linux servers on the network that need to be backed up. In the past we used a home-grown solution for backing up the Linux machines to their own drive, but we'd like to move to a more standard solution (so it passes the "if I get hit by a bus" test). Ideally the solution would integrate into the Windows backup, would be easy for a Windows admin to monitor and manage.

Finding an open source solution is NOT a priority. Finding an easy to use (for a Windows admin, not a Linux admin), reliable solution is. Linux distribution can be flexible (the servers are basically just LAMP servers) if that matters to finding a good backup tool.

Does anyone have actual experience setting up a backup routine like this? What tools would you recommend?

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4 Answers

What Windows backup software do you use? Most have Linux agents (Backup Exec, Arcserve etc). If you are using NTBackup then there is no Linux integration. We have a similar situation. We just have a cron job that runs on the Linux box and copies files to a Windows server using Samba. From there the Windows backup software backs it up. Yes it's not very "Windows-ey". For that you really need a Linux agent which will have the smarts and integrate into the main backup console.

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The current system is Backup Exec, but they don't provide useful support to get it running on Linux (told us it only worked on RHE 3 or Suse 7, which seems like an unlikely pair). I'm hoping to see people have actually gotten to work. If there were a better package out there it would be possible to switch. The network admin isn't stubborn about which tool, just that they be good tools. –  acrosman May 16 '09 at 14:36
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My environment is roughly 50/50 *nix/Windows, so YMMV.

I moved away from Backup Exec because it was inflexible, did not support my *nix OSes of choice, and cost more than it was worth. I'm now using Bacula and it works beautifully. The server-end of things (Storage Daemon and Director) are best suited to a *nix environment (so this may not be the solution for you) but the client (File Daemon) works flawlessly on Windows 2003, XP, Vista, and their 64-bit counterparts. I've also got it installed on FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Ubuntu, and Mac OS X platforms.

It's Open Source, has brilliant documentation, supports VSS, and is actively growing. With the recently released 3.0 they have a native Exchange plugin and support for most of the tape drives you can think to throw at it.

Finally, it integrates very nicely with any glue scripts you want to throw at it. On all my Windows boxes, I have it do an "ntbackup /systemstate" with every backup so I'm sure to get the registry and such in a usable format.

I can't speak to its GUI capabilities as I've never used them. I believe there's some native ones in SD and Director, and there's Web-Bacula (exactly what it sounds like), so it's worth a shot. The CLI tool for managing it is a pseudo-shell tool so it has its own syntax. I've found it very intuitive since it doesn't require memorizing a bunch of CLI args and flags, but I come from a Unix background.

Definitely worth a shot, though, especially considering the price point.

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Netbackup from Veritas had good linux backup support.

Tivoli(sp?) from IBM has good Linux backup support.

I have used both in the last few years, the best way to do it is to script copies to samba shares, let backupexec slurp the files and then educate your windows dude how to troubleshoot the basics. This is how I have been doing linux backup for the last 2 years.

If they are LAMP servers you could take a day and build a wiki article on how to create a LAMP server and then how to restore it. This is a great exercise for business continuity.

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I agree, run a cron job to tar/gz .conf and data files to a samba share, and let BackupExec or some other networked backup grab it as part of the regular job. –  nedm May 16 '09 at 18:35
    
I wrote a wiki page about it a couple years ago. It was definitely a useful exercise which I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet. –  acrosman May 19 '09 at 1:44
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You could create a samba share of the Linux server's root directory. Read only of course, with access restricted to your backup server and secured by Backup Exec's role account.

Now your Windows-only admin just needs to add this share to his backup job.

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