How Good is FBX System Backups


I too was one that didn’t have their FBX automatically upgraded from Bullseye to Bookworm.

Though, I dont want to criticize FBX on this as my setup did not actually comply with the FBX defaults.
Reasons being:

  • I’m running on a Pi4. FBX is configured for the Pioneer, so I may have had trouble with all of Pi’s firmware blobs.
  • My installation was on an external drive. On top of that, my disk was a conventional magnetic disk (not SSD), so BTRFS was not working for me and I chose to install FBX on top of a standard EXT4 Debian installation.
  • Before the update, I did some messing around with FBX configuration files.

After the upgrade, when I saw my Pi was stuck on boot while trying to install bluetooth drivers; I just cut the power and decided to go with a fresh installation on an external SSD drive. This time, with the official Pi Image from FBX.

The installation went smooth and my initial setup was flawless. Luckily, before the Bookwoorm upgrade, I had downloaded the FBX (borg) backup archive to my local PC with the hope of having the same configuration as before the upgrade. I’m sharing this post to provide some feedback / insight for those who might wonder what FBX backs-up and how the restoration goes.

Once my fresh-installed FBX was up and running, I did all my basic system configurations, obtained my LetsEncrypt certificates and created all the users that previously existed. Then, under system settings I hit Backups and chose to upload the compressed backup file I had downloaded before the upgrade.

FBX returned to me with a checklist of everything that I could restore. As I had already done my basic configuration, I only chose to restore the application data that were previously working. Below is a list I made use of:

  • BePasty: All passwords for my users were restored along with all the files I had uploaded (and their download links). Any link I had shared with anyone (before the upgrade) became valid and working. Additionally, I had made a tweak or two in the BePasty configuration file and to my surprise, they were all there. The BePasty restore was successful.

  • Calibre: I got back all the e-books I had uploaded with the default library configuration. I never tried reading from the server so I couldn’t see whether the bookmarks were protected but I assume they were. The Calibre restore was successful.

  • ejabberd: I was in deep thought with this as all my users had traded OMEMO keys and had gotten used to their user rosters. An clean install of ejabberd would mean all users would have to start from scratch. Nevertheless, the restoration process was perfect! The system not only restored all users rosters (address books) and OMEMO keys but profile pictures as well. What really surprised me was it also brought back my ejabberd.yml file; one which took a lot of my time to perfect for me needs. After restoring the ejabberd backup, none of the users felt any change in their daily use. The ejabberd restore was successful.

  • MediaWiki: The MediaWiki restoration was not too far from the others. The restoration process did save all my data but, as MediaWiki had changed their handling of the data with their recent upgrade, I had to do a data migration. For the how to you can visit this post I shared. An addition on the recent Freedombox upgrade was that I could configure the MediaWiki language from the Plinth interface, which brought a nice touch as I didn’t need the CLI to do it. Although the application did require my intervention to migrate to a new database, I’d say the MediaWiki restoration was successful.

  • Minetest: With the restoration I got back all my games and mods working, along with the registered users. The Minetest restore was successful.

  • MiniDLNA: After the restore, settings to the path of my media was configured in FBX and I didn’t have to do any extra configurations. The MiniDLNA restore was successful.

  • Mumble: Any settings I previously done through the Plinth interface had were safely back. The Mumble restore was successful.

  • Email and Roudcube: Now, this took me to surprise as I had done a couple of things that didn’t come configured with FBX. These were; (i) setup DKIM keys for my domain (ii) create ARC signatures for my domain (iii) configured managesieve plugin for Roundcube. All these, along with my emails and my rapid spam statistcs were safely back on my FBX after the restoration - with no need to reconfigure any of my clients. I had to manually install Roundcube plugins from the Debian repo but I couldn’t expect FBX to do that anyway. I am more than happy to have my email configuration and data back! The Email restore was successful.

  • Radicale: Another application I was worried about was Radicale. I had setup multiple address books and calenders that I had shared with my family and any data loss here would have created a lot of trouble. Luckily, everything went smooth and all my users got all their calendars and data exactly as before meaning we didn’t have to do anything on the client side and everything turned out working perfectly. The Radicale restore was successful.

  • Shaarli: I’ve really gotten used to this little application and although it wasnt a deal breaker, I wouldn’t have wanted to loose my bookmarks. Luckily, all went well and I had Shaarli up and running after the restoration. A minor intervention was that because I had previously themed Shaarli, I had to do it again to actually have it working. But, that’s on me. The Shaarli restore was successful.

  • OpenVPN: This restoration process made sure that all my clients could be used as is with the configuration made. A small intervention was necessary on my laptop as Debian 12 depreciated some ciphers, feel feel to look it up here. The OpenVPN restore was successful.

  • Syncthing: Again, another successful restore. Thanks to the backup, I didn’t have to go through the hassle of pairing my data between machines. Once Syncthing was restored to its previous state, everything started working. The Syncthing restore was successful.

  • Transmission: Restoring Transmission was a breeze. Though not too difficult to get it back to how it was, the backup saved me from going to settings to configure my downloads folder and other minor tweaks. The Transmission restore was successful.

  • TT-RSS: Here’s one that didn’t work. Not only did restoring TT-RSS break (interrupt) my whole restore process, it also did not work. Luckily, months ago I had taken a manuel .opml file backup but anything after that is lost. After the failed restore, I tried using some simple scripts to get an .opml backup but I believe the FBX configuration is not allowing it. Keep in mind, for the time being you have to manually download your RSS backup. The TT_RSS restore was not successful. For any dev reading this, I’m also getting some database errors on logs. Another subject, but wanted to raise flag here.

Now that I’m on an SSD drive, I’m also taking comfort in the Snapshots. With Snapshots, I have more flexibility in trying new things without breaking my system.

A word of humble advice; FBX and Debian come preinstalled with a very powerful backup solution called Borg-Backup. If you have any data that isn’t within the service scope of FBX (or data as in your home folder), have a look at it. With small scripts that you can run on your crontab, it’s easy to take additional backups.

One last thing before closing my post; I keep all my backup on a separate hard-drive. I strongly recommend you keep one too. In case my FBX drive fails, I can always retrieve my data from another computer. You can always configure FBX to take backups on that specific external drive.


EDIT: The TT-RSS (php) errors I was getting in my logs were due to some expired RSS feeds. This is new to me as Bullseye version never logeed such errors. Once I got rid of the expired RSS feeds, no more errors.

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