Old Backup System (Halva's rdiff system)

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IRIDIA has a server where users can store their backups. It can be configured to automatically retrieve the data to backup from users' computers during the night.

Server Information

The server name is fallopius.ulb.ac.be and it is in IRIDIA. It will be moved to another building. When? Hard to say...

You need a valid login to access the computer. Ask the system adminstrato to create one for you.

The server has globally 677 Gb available for backup. The HDs are configured according to RAID 5 architecture to assure more realiability and not to lose also your backups!

How to Access the Server

The server can be accessed only via SSH.


The server is the only machine in IRIDIA which sets quota for the users. Each user has a soft quota of 20 Gb, and a hard quota of 22 Gb. When the soft quota is exceeded, the user has 7 days to reduce its occupied space. After 7 days, or in any case if the hard quota is exceeded, the user account is blocked and the only thing he can do is to remove files.

The system administrator can modify the quota of a user with the command:

edquota -u username

editing the values of the soft and hard limits.

Manual Backup

Using ssh and scp, each user can copy his data on fallopius. Other programs that might be used are duplicity and rdiff-backup.

For example you might use the rsync command like this:

time rsync -a -z -e ssh "/home/user/" user@fallopius.ulb.ac.be:/home/user/remote/ --delete --progress --update

Command-line backup solutions on Mac OS X

Automatic Backup

The server can be configure to automatically retrieve the data to backup from users' computers. This procedure is described more in detail in the README file that each user finds in his home directory at the first login. Please read that file first, and if you have more doubt ask the system administrator.

Once the setup of an account is completed, the server proceeds to the automatic retrieval of the data each evening at 22:00 on odd days (the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and so on). At the end of the procedure, an email is sent to the owner of the accunt with the result of the backup.

Mac OS X and rsync

Mini-HOWTO: Fixing rsync on Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4.x)

How to remove old incremental data

To remove old data just log in fallopius.ulb.ac.be and give a command similar to the following:

rdiff-backup --force --remove-older-than 2005-12-31 mmanfrin@iridia.ulb.ac.be

(in this example we remove the incremental backups of the machine iridia.ulb.ac.be for the account mmanfrin previous to 31 Dec 2005 )

Where Does the Name Come from?

In IRIDIA we are used to name the computer after famous scientits. We looked for someone who invented something that might be related with the concept of "backup".

A backup is, after all, something that makes you safer, that lets you work without worries. It is a form of protection. In a book published in 1564, "De Morbo Gallico", Gabriello Fallopio (1523-1563), an Italian anatomist, describes a device he used to protect people against venereal illnesses quite common at that time. The device he refers to is the condom.

Less worthy of note, there are also two organs in the female body named after him: the fallopian tubes.