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Thread: rdiff-backup syntax

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Slipery Slope, Earth
    Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

    rdiff-backup syntax

    Hello Ubuntuers:

    I've had a few failures with using rdiff-backup... and so, I'm asking for some clarification on this forum. Thanks.

    What I seem to have learned form my investigation are that
    • it is a good idea to exclude everything first (That's TheFu' suggestion),
    • then identify the other things you want included (That's TheFu's suggestion).

    These ideas
    • seem to originated from TheFu,
    • seem quite reasonable, and
    • provides a conceptually simple way forward in implementing rdiff-backup,
    • given that its manpage has 538 lines of text, and that starting point is not suggested elsewhere.

    I've read the
    • the man-page,
    • other documentation on rdiff-backup at, and
    • rdiff-backuup discussion group chats, including what's on the forums.

    What's not clear to me is
    • how to tell rdiff-backp where the "include-globbing-filelist" file is located,
    • how to properly specify the ownership characterisitcs of the "include-globbing-filelist" file.

    There are other issues:

    My "include-globbing-filelist" looks like this:

    I've seen examples of "include-globbing-filelist" that have unexplained notations (like a "+" and "-") that precede each entry. Material I've read indicate that entries in the "include-globbing-filelist" can include stuff you want (maybe lines with a preceding"+") and stuff you don't want (maybe lines with a preceding "-")... but this is not made explicit.

    The manpage, discussions, documentation do not clarify things that may be important issues: there are chats where this is a main topic of concern.

    So, I'd like to ask how to do that.

    Here is my rdiff-backup command:

    rdiff-backup --exclude-special-files --include-globbing-filelist /path-to-include-list/include-list /mnt/personname2

    Here are my questions:
    • since the entries in my "include-globbing-filelist" include only the stuff I want, should each line be preceded with a "+"?
    • is an explicit specification of the include list location like the one I've specified acceptable for rdiff-backup?
    • what permissions for the "include-globbing-filelist" file should be specified in a chmod command so that rdiff can and will read it? E.g, should root be the owner? Or, should I be the owner? How should the access for that file be modified with a chmod command?

    Thank you,
    Old Jimma

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: rdiff-backup syntax

    I don't know the answer to your question about the glopping-filelist, but the last time I used rdiff-backup was in 2013 or 2014.

    This was what I used:
    /usr/bin/rdiff-backup --print-statistics --terminal-verbosity 5 --exclude /mnt/array/Steam --exclude /mnt/array/lost+found --exclude /mnt/array/proxmox /mnt/array/ /mnt/fullbackup/rdiff
    /mnt/array is the source and /mnt/fullbackup/rdiff is the destination. You can also use user@hostname:/path/to/dest for remote destinations.

    It looks like globbing only applies to includes with special characters in the name such was "*" based on what I see here: based on that, I do not believe you need to use globbing with your folder list nor do you need to add the +.

    • rdiff-backup can also accept a list of files to be backed up. If the file include-list contains these two lines:

    Then this command:

    rdiff-backup --include-filelist include-list --exclude '**' / /backup
    would only back up the files /var, /usr, /usr/bin, and /usr/bin/gzip, but not /var/log or /usr/bin/gunzip. Note that this differs from the --include option, since --include /var would also match /var/log.

    • The same file list can both include and exclude files. If we create a file called include-list that contains these lines:

        - /usr/local/games
        - /usr
        - /backup
        - /proc
    Then the following command will do exactly the same thing as the complicated example two above.

    rdiff-backup --include-globbing-filelist include-list / /backup
    Above we have used --include-globbing-filelist instead of --include-filelist so that the lines would be interpreted as if they were specified on the command line. Otherwise, for instance, **txt would be considered the name of a file, not a globbing string.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Slipery Slope, Earth
    Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

    Re: rdiff-backup syntax

    Thanks, CharlesA:

    I'll give these things a try.

    BTW, I read the manpage! And it seems to answer all my questions.

    Specifically, lines 454-462 address all of my issues. They say this:
    For example, if the file "list.txt" contains the lines:

    - /usr/local/doc
    + /var
    - /var

    then "--include-filelist list.txt" would include /usr, /usr/local, and /usr/local/bin.
    What this means is that if you list the files and/or directories in a file called list.txt and that file is in the directory called /path, you should either
    • issue a "cd /path" before issuing the rdiff-backup command that uses "--include-filelist file.lst" , or
    • specify it this way: "--include-filelist /path/file.lst" as a part of the rdiff-backup command.

    Further, the manpage seems to imply that each line in the file.lst file should be preceded by either a "+" or "-" to indicate whether a file/folder is to be included or not, respectively. ALso, if neither "+" nor "-" is indicted.. the "+" i(ie, includsion) s implied.

    I'll test this out. If it works... as evidenced by doing and rdiff-backup and then restoring stuff successflly, I'll report things here, indicate what works, then close this post.

    Old Jimmy From the Old Country
    Last edited by Old Jimma; September 20th, 2021 at 09:47 PM.


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