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Creating Snapshot Backups Of Your Desktop With Timevault On Ubuntu 7.10

This document describes how to set up, configure and use Timevault on Ubuntu 7.10. The resulting system provides a powerful backup system for desktop usage. TimeVault is a simple front-end for making snapshots of a set of directories. Snapshots are a copy of a directory structure or file at a certain point in time. Restore functionality is integrated into Nautilus – previous versions of a file or directory that has a snapshot can be accessed by examining the properties and selecting the ‘Previous Versions’ tab.

This howto is a practical guide without any warranty – it doesn’t cover the theoretical backgrounds. There are many ways to set up such a system – this is the way I chose.


1 Preparation

Set up a standard Ubuntu 7.10 system and update it.


2 Install Timevault

Open within your browser and install the latest package (when I was writing this howto the latest version was 0.7.5-1) with the GDebi package installer (simply click on the package).



Click on “Install Package“.


Enter the root password.


The package and its dependencies are being downloaded …


… and installed.




Log out and then log back so that the changes to the Nautilus file browser can take effect.

3 Timevault Notifier

Now we add the Timevault notifier to the startup programs. The session settings are available in the gnome system menu.


Click on “Add” and insert the needed information.


Afterwards log out and then log back in to take the changes effect.


4 Snapshot Directory

Now we create a directory where the snapshots will be stored. Please note, that it’s recommended to use another location than the disk from that you want to take snapshots.

sudo mkdir /home/timevault/


5 Configuration

The Timevault notifier icon in the gnome panel shows us that we have to configure Timevault – the icon is grey.


Right click on the Timevault notifier icon and select “Preferences“.


Enter the root password.


Mark the checkbox next to “Enable automated snapshots“, choose the root directory for the snapshots (step 4) and mark the checkbox next to “Enable Nautilus Integration“.


Add the directories and/or files that should be backed up.


Here you can add file and/or path patterns to exclude files and folders from the snapshots.


Adjust the expiration settings to your needs.


After the configuration Timevault is ready to be used – the icon has switched and on hover you’ll see how many directories are being watched and how many files are being scheduled for snapshots.


When you left-click on the Timevault notifier icon you’ll see a detailed overview of the scheduled files.


Timevault will notify you when it takes a snapshot.


6 Snapshot Browser

6.1 User Access

6.1.1 Global

The first option to access the snapshot browser is to right click on the Timevault notifier icon.


6.1.2 Nautilus

Timevault is also integrated into Nautilus – simply click on the icon to open the snapshot browser.



6.1.3 Properties Dialogue

The third option to access the snapshot browser is to open the properties dialogue for a file or folder.



6.2 Root Access

You have two options to use the snapshot browser with root privileges. Either via right click on the timevault notifier icon …


… or in the properties dialogue.


6.3 Usage

After you’ve opened the snapshot browser you’ll see a browseable timeline of the taken snapshots. The base for these snapshots is either the actual directory or file if you opened the snapshot browser via Nautilus or the whole filesystem if you opened the snapshot browser via the Timevault notifier.


After you’ve selected a snapshot from the timeline you’ll see the detailed contents below. You can hide meta data or real data if you want.


6.4 Revert Snapshots

If you want to revert a file or folder from a snapshot simply mark it and click on “Revert“.


Click on “OK” …


… and choose a location where the data shall be restored.


  • Timevault:
  • Timevault Ubuntu Wiki:
  • Ubuntu: