How To Backup Your Ubuntu System With Remastersys

After countless hours of configuring, tweaking, installing new applications onto your Ubuntu system, the last thing that you want to do is to reformat and start everything all over again. Remastersys is here to save you all this trouble. Remastersys is a simple and easy to use application that allows you to easily clone and backup your Ubuntu system so that you can quickly restore your computer to its previous state in the event that it crashes.

There are two thing that Remastersys can do:

  1. To do a full system backup, including all installed applications, their settings and your personal data, to a live CD or DVD. You can use this live CD or DVD to restore your system or to install it in another computer. You can also bring it around and use it everywhere as a Live CD.
  2. To create a custom distributable copy of your current Ubuntu system and share it with your friends.

Remastersys comes with a GUI to guide you through the process. There is little or no configuration to do. In as little as one step, you will be backing up your Ubuntu (or creating custom distributable iso) in no time. Remastersys works only in Ubuntu and its derivative such as Linux Mint.

In your terminal,

Add the following line to the end of the file.

For Gutsy and Earlier

For Hardy and Newer with original grub

For Karmic and Newer with grub2

Save and exit.

Update the repositories and install Remastersys

Once the installation has finished, go to “System -> Administration -> Remastersys Backup”

If you have any other windows or applications running, close them all. Click OK to continue.

remastersys-screenshot1

Select the action that you want to do. If you want to create a backup of your system, including all the personal data, highlight Backup and click OK. If you want to create a distributable copy of your current system, select Dist and click OK.

remastersys-selection

Remastersys will proceed to do the task that you have specified. This will take a long time, depending on the number of applications and files in your system.

remastersys-in-process

You will receive a prompt when the backup process is done. The backup cd filesystem and iso can be found at /home/remastersys/remastersys folder.

remastersys-finish

If you have Virtualbox or VMware installed, you can test the iso file by loading it in a virtual machine.

remastersys-bootup

Remastersys is a powerful, yet simple to use application. There is no technical knowledge involved. You simply load it up, select the option and off it goes. It is ideal for backing up your system so that you can restore it in the event your system crashes. I like the feature where it allows you to create a custom distribution of Ubuntu. Over the time, I have received many queries from friends on how to install the various applications. With Remastersys, I can now create my own distro with all the applications pre-installed and distribute them to my friends.

For alternative way to create your custom distro, check out Reconstructor.

45 comments

  1. I have built several Ubuntu machines for sale and for friends. I usually am using the exact same hardware and tweak all machines with the same codecs and libraries. This is a HUGE help in doing all that a lot faster! THANK YOU for writing this up so I could find and use Remastersys!

  2. This sounds great! I am a 14 Feb 09 linux newbie (addicted to MS since ’87) and really paranoid about my data. (I loaded VirtualBox as my lifeline in case I fall off the wagon.) Under Ubuntu 2.10 (intrepid?) I’d like to back up everything but my DVD(s) will only hold 4GB each and I was wondering if I need to exclude/isolate some files I know of or is there some kind of compression involved? Thanks in advance!

    • Miki, welcome to the Linux family. I am sure you won’t regret your choice.

      For your info, the current version of Ubuntu is 8.10, not 2.10. I guess you are probably referring to the Virtualbox version.

      If you are backing up the whole system, including all your files, there is no way that you can fit it into a 4GB DVD. It is preferable to backup your user data in an external hard disk and use the Remastersys to create a backup of your system. This will save you the effort of reinstalling all the applications and settings next time.

  3. I plan on doing a complete system backup to an external hard drive via a usb port using remastersys. Once this is complete, will it be an exact duplicate of my internal hard drive in which I will be able to work off of the external drive if the internal drive crashed?

  4. Hi, I have Ubuntu Hardy installed on one partition, and /home on a separate partition. How do I backup the entire system, including /home?
    Do I have to backup /home separately, using some other tool?
    Thanks!

    • Not a problem, you can still follow the above instruction to backup your computer. Remastersys will backup the root folder as well as the /home folder, regardless which partition they are in.

      • Thanks! Just a few more questions, I’m a newbie!
        (1) If I choose the ‘backup(backup full system including user data)’
        option, will the image created by Remastersys include the entire /home (including, say, saved files, mp3s, videos, etc.), or special folders in /home?
        (2) Next, if I wish to install a copy of my current system onto a new hard drive, how do I use the DVD on which I have saved the image?
        Will it create new partitions, etc, all by itself, just as an Ubuntu CD does? Will the installation environment be the same, or do I need a live CD as well?
        (3) Finally, after installing Ubuntu, I have had to ‘fix’ configuration files to make printer, wifi, etc, work (the ‘standard’ fixes). Will these automatically be there?
        Thanks again.

      • 1) It will include the /home/username folder

        2 & 3) The backup DVD itself is already a liveCD. You can use it to install onto a new hard drive. All the configuration files will still be intact.

  5. Damien:
    I am a Ubuntu user since 5.10 version, but when comes the “upgrade” my body begin to shake, because is a very painful action. This stop me to continue to upgrade since 8.04. This introduction is for asking you,I can make bakup of only the applications, not for the system, because I find that the easy way to upgrade is make o new partition install the new version and then the tons of time and GB of applications , so I can use remastersys to back up JUST THE APPLICATIONS, not the OS that I try to upgrade?
    Thanks for your time…

    • Remastersys does not allow you to backup the applications only. In fact, other than the settings of the applications (which are mostly located in the Home folder), you don’t really have to back up the applications as they are readily available in the repository.

      To upgrade your system, it would be sufficient to back up your Home folder and restore them on the new system.

      • Hi,
        My home folder has tons of stuff, mp3s, videos, etc. When the backup is performed, is all this backed up as well? Or, are just some special folders within my home folder backed up?
        Further, if I create the resulting image on an external hard disc
        (such as a Seagate disk), how do I use it for fresh installation on
        my computer hard drive? With a CD or a DVD image, I can set the bios to load from a CD.
        Thanks.

  6. Suppose I backup my entire system (root and home) will it include the /media by default (i have my 1tb connected ). Also the backup file if greater than the size it would fit on a cd/dvd then how do i restore from the external hd.
    Thanks in advance.

  7. Damien i may be a newbie (only 3 months since i’ve been decided to ”kill Bill” ;) )but you’ve got an amazing tutorial here.Well done.Thank you so much.

    Only three questions:

    — Whats the difference between the actions ”create a backup of your system, including all the personal data” and ”distributable copy of your current system”?

    — I use dual boot,i have p.x F with two partitions (80gb and 170gb) and D (160Gb).I installed ubuntu in the 80gb partition.
    I want to make a full backup,with all the programms i have installed in ubuntu (this includes the updates of them that i have done also?).Everything,but of course not my mp3,or movies in the other disks.I want if system fail,to put the DVD and all become to Zero point,in the backup time.Configuration/mounts etc.Is that possible?
    Am i ok with ”create a backup of your system, including all the personal data”?

    — After the program finishes its job,the backup cd filesystem and iso can be found at /home/remastersys/remastersys folder.So i use this iso to make my Live cd?

    Thanks again and sorry for my too many questions.
    Cheers

    • Whats the difference between the actions ”create a backup of your system, including all the personal data” and ”distributable copy of your current system”?
      – As its name implies, “creating a backup” means backing up all your files so that you can restore them in the future. “Creating a distributable copy” means creating a image of the current OS (and all the installed applications) into ISO form. With this image, you can then create a bootable CD and restore your whole system (including the installed applications) from the LiveCD.

      create a backup of your system, including all the personal data
      – Yes

      After the program finishes its job,the backup cd filesystem and iso can be found at /home/remastersys/remastersys folder.So i use this iso to make my Live cd?
      – Yes

  8. Hi, thanks for the tutorial, just had a question about which option I should use. I’ve taken a long time to customize a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.04 (i.e. video drivers, dual monitor setup, compiz settings, updated programs). I want to do a system backup so that I can restore to this exact state, but I don’t have any data or documents I need to backup. I assume in this case I would create a distributable copy, which would include my drivers, settings and updated programs? Thanks!

    • Yes. You just need to create a distributable CD and that will contain all your customized setup.

  9. Hi
    I’m a recent convert to Ubuntu 9.04 and have a 64 bit system currently dual booted with Vista Ultimate. At the end of this month I intend to wipe the Windows partition and do a complete new install of Ubuntu 9.10. Although I’m managing most things in my new Linux environment OK, the one thing I know I won’t be able to do is to script my network connection again from scratch in the new install. I had to pay someone to set this up for me. I have to use a SonyEricsson USB broadband modem as there are no cables here. If I use Remastersys to back up my system will it be possible to transfer these settings into a clean install of 9.10 without having to use any command line functions I may not be able to work out?

    Thanks.

    • I am not too sure about this as I don’t know how similar (or different) Ubuntu 9.04 is to 9.10. If they maintained the same networking structure, most probably it will work.

      You might want to do an installation of 9.10 on a separate partition and test this out.

  10. I an not so new to Linux, i hate Windows… I was searching for some Util for Linux that could save/restore my *very* personalized Ubuntu… so will Remastersys fit my need? Read more before awnser, please.

    -I have Three Internal HDDs.
    -I create a separated /boot partition of 512MB
    -I create some partitions on all HDDs
    -I use Linux Raid0 fo root partition
    -I use Linux Raid0 for DATA partition

    Let me show a very basic partition schema so can imagine how i install Ubuntu (from Alternate CDs):
    -Fisrt HDD -> /dev/sda
    -Second HDD -> /dev/sdb
    -Third HDD -> /dev/sdc

    Now partitions:
    /dev/sda1 (512MB) -> /boot
    /dev/sda2 (1365MB) -> SWAP
    /dev/sda3 (8GB) -> RAID0 for /
    /dev/sda4 (*GB) -> RAID0 fot /media/DATA
    /dev/sdb1 (1365MB) -> SWAP
    /dev/sdb2 (8GB) -> RAID0 for /
    /dev/sdb3 (*GB) -> RAID0 fot /media/DATA
    /dev/sdc1 (1365MB) -> SWAP
    /dev/sdc2 (8GB) -> RAID0 for /
    /dev/sdc3 (*GB) -> RAID0 fot /media/DATA
    /dev/md0 (24GB) [/dev/sda3 /dev/sdb2 /dev/sdc2] -> /
    /dev/md1 (***GB) [/dev/sda4 /dev/sdb3 /dev/sdc3] -> /

    In this way i have a very FAST SWAP area (configured with same priority)
    In this way i have a very FAST /
    In this way i have a very FAST /media/DATA

    Note: If any HDD fails all is lost, i know; to avoid -> make BackUPs

    /media/DATA is used for temporal Huge (Files >16GB each) temporal data, no need to BackUp, except End-Work (such i put copies on external USB HDDs, at least five copies/BackUPs)…

    So i only need to BackUP / and /boot, but how?

    I want to be able to restore them without needing to reinstall whole System, neither reconfigure any application, … neither drivers … etc.

    I would preffer some way like:
    -Boot from a LiveCD/LiveDVD with all tools needed and ready to be used
    -Make a BackUp file of /boot partition on any external USB HDD as small as possible (compression!).
    -Make a BackUp file of / partition on any external USB HDD as small as possible (compression!).

    And then be able to physically chang my internal HDDs for new ones of different size! and restore using same LiveCD/LiveDVD and image files maked in a way like:
    -Boot from a LiveCD/LiveDVD with all tools needed and ready to be used
    -Make all partitions with new sizes (smaller, greater or whatever i want)
    -Restore /boot partition
    -Restore / partition
    -Boot as it was before, so full check all is done correctly and BackUps Works!!!

    Most tools i found like CloneZilla, Partimage, etc… can not let me do such, because of Raid schema… Clonezilla sees /dev/sd$# but no /dev/md#,… and Partimage do not let me to restore to a smaller partition size, so all times it gets greater and greater…

    Would Remastersys let me do what i want: Clone my whole system to a Single File or Two files and then restore in a different partition shema?

    Thanks a lot for any info!!! And if possible what about supporting Lnux Raid!!!

    Note: My Linux Raid (Three stripes, each on one HDD, one PATA, two SATA) can sustain a Write speed on / partition a 187MB/s speed.
    Note: My Ubuntu 9.04 full boot time is just 13 seconds -> Starting count just after BIOS post, go to X desktop until no HDD activity; yes only 13 seconds because i use Raid, but how dare can i save/BackUp my system? and restore?

    Just beacuse i use Software Linux Raid Stripping to speed up disk acccess (normaly i use files of lots of GBs, normally no less than 16GB each), i am not able to Save and successfully restore full System on different partition schema.

    More! I have read that it is also possible to clone Linux from one 32Bit system to an another PC with different hardware (while destination is also 32bit or AMD64 that can work as 32bit), i have never been able to do that! Any idea/good tutorial anywhere?

    Let me explain why:

    -I use five PCs all with same Linux (Ubunty), same applications, same configuration, NFS, etc… One is AMD64 and system is in 64 bits on it, the rest are all 32 bits. If one fails there are four rest to do the work on them while restoring the failed one… I want not to need to reinstall all and reconfigure it each time.
    -Since i used Linux i have never need to restore system, never failed (hope it continues on such way); but with Windows (i hate it a lot) it was working no more than a week, so each week i was in need to restore/reinstall windows system.
    -This is why i would like to know how to do Full System BackUp/Restore on Linux, just in case Linux fails! Or better: Just in case Hardware fails!

    Thanks a lot for all!

  11. Ok, not so great

    BIG, BIG, ENORMOUS BUG, what else can be inside:

    I change the options for using my user for the created files, I need to cancel the backup, IT DELETED MY USER !!!!!!!!!! OHHH GOD, now I can use my machine anymore !!!!!!
    That’s a serious serious bug, for me is enough for telling DO NOT USE IT.

    2nd problem (after what happened I won’t try it anymore)
    It does not copy to CD/DVD it just writes to a directory, well I don’t have enough
    space to backup in disk, that’s why I want to make backup.

    So after trying it, I’m faced with a machine I cannot use, without my backup done.

    s

  12. i ran it on my laptop – hp pavilion dv 6000
    it got until 20% and then the machine turnd off due to overheating.
    i actually heard the fans working very hard since the whole process has begun.
    anybody expirienced it ? any way to slow it down, it better take more time than burn my lappy…..
    thnx

  13. What will happen if I have Ubuntu installed as a windows partion (dual boot)? Will it Will only the Ubuntu partition be backed up?

    • @Cole: The remastersys repository has moved. Try the following instead:

      For Gutsy and Earlier – up to version 2.0.11-1
      # Remastersys
      deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository remastersys/

      For Hardy and Newer with original grub – version 2.0.12-1 and up
      # Remastersys
      deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository ubuntu/

      For Karmic and Newer with grub2 – version 2.0.13-1 and up
      # Remastersys
      deb http://www.geekconnection.org/remastersys/repository karmic/

      • @Damien. Thanks for the response. So I had managed to intall it and did the backup but on restarting my machine i got this error.

        “Installation Problem
        the configuration default for Gnome Power management have not been installed correctly.”

        Am sure the back up thing is just what I need. I think the backup filled the HD and that’s where the problem began. Which why I needed to back up in the first place so that I could move to a bigger HD.

        Any idea how to access what was backed up would be highly appreciated.
        Again Thanks.

  14. I have Ubuntu 9.04 wubi, so I run in split mode. I want to get rid of windows.

    steps
    back up my ubuntu 9.04 on an external hard drive.
    boot from the external hard drive.. reinstalling ubuntu only.

    that make sense…

  15. It is in the /home directory. (Note: it is not your user home directory. You got to go to Filesystem->Home)

  16. sir i have a problem ?
    i have build a customize ubuntu using remastersys ….it work properly in live cd/DVD mode….but cannot install to a standalone machine…as the installation fail at 83%(ie cannot create user account)
    Pliz HELP

  17. when i tried install from iso DVD i got this massage
    could not find ramdisk image : /casper/initrd.gz

  18. First off is your USB modem the MD400 variety that you use over the cellular (mobile) phone 3g network? It should pick it up in Ubuntu without any scripting (but always backup the custom script) as a 'dial up' modem or even better in the 'mobile broadband' of your network settings… I have yet to find one that doesn't…

    If it is not and goes through the telephone line as ADSL broadband, get a router and connect to it via a network cable from PC to router, then router to phone line – no drivers neede…

  19. Hi ! I am Using Ubuntu 10.04 64 bit. I backup my system with remastersys and I burn the iso file (slowly 4x) on a dvd. There was no problem on the process to backup and burning. I reboot the machine but when i type “live,install,check…” on boot line it gives always the same error:

    loading casper/vmlinuz………………………………
    could not find ramdisk image: /casper/initrd.gz

    it types again “boot:” and it is waiting for me to write again what i want to do ( : live,install,check…). I will be happy if someone helps me here about my problem ? (Note: I am not sure but i had the same problem also on Ubuntu 9.1 32 bit.)

    Thank you!

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