How to Install Systemback on Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint

This tutorial will be showing you how to install Systemback on Debian, Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Systemback is a simple system backup and restore application, released under the terms of GPLv3 license. Features of Systemback includes:

  • Create backups of the system and the users configuration files
  • Restore the system to a previous state, just like the snapshot function of Virtualbox
  • Create bootable ISO file from existing installation
  • Copy the system from one partition to another partition.
  • Upgrade software

Install Systemback on Debian 11, Ubuntu 22.04/20.04 Desktop

Run the following command to import the GPG public key so that APT can verify package integrity during installation.

wget --quiet -O - https://repo.linuxbabe.com/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc

Add the repository.

echo "deb [signed-by=/etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc arch=$( dpkg --print-architecture )] https://repo.linuxbabe.com $(lsb_release -cs) main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/linuxbabe.list

Update repository index and install Systemback.

sudo apt update

sudo apt install systemback

Then you can start Systemback from your application menu. You need to enter your password to use this software. After you enter the password, click OK button.

systemback for bionic

If you can’t start it from the application menu, then you can start it from command line with root.

Allow the root user to access X server.

xhost +local:

Switch to root. (Don’t omit the - character.)

sudo su -

Set the $DISPLAY environment variable.

export DISPLAY=:0.0

Start Systemback.

systemback

As you can see, you can create restore points of your system, restore to a point, copy the system to another partition, install the system to a new partition, create live system (bootable ISO image), repair the system and upgrade software on the system.

systemback create iso

Install Systemback on Linux Mint

Run the following command to import the GPG public key so that APT can verify package integrity during installation.

wget --quiet -O - https://repo.linuxbabe.com/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc

Add the repository.

echo "deb [signed-by=/etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc arch=$( dpkg --print-architecture )] https://repo.linuxbabe.com jammy main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/linuxbabe.list

The above command is for Linux Mint that’s based on Ubuntu 22.04. If your Linux Mint version is based on Ubuntu 20.04, then replace jammy with focal. If you don’t know if your Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu 22.04 or Ubuntu 20.04, simply run

sudo apt update

Then you can see the Ubuntu codename from the output.

Update repository index and install Systemback.

sudo apt update

sudo apt install systemback

Allow the root user to access X server.

xhost +local:

Switch to root. (Don’t omit the - character.)

sudo su -

Set the $DISPLAY environment variable.

export DISPLAY=:0.0

Start Systemback.

systemback

How to Create a Bootable ISO Image From Your Current System

Systemback can create a customized ISO image file from your current system. Every program and file can be included in the ISO.

Click the Live System Create button, then give a name to your ISO file. You have the option to include the user data files. Click the Create New button to create live system.

systemback create live iso

After the live system is created, you can convert the sblive file to ISO file. Note that if the sblive file is too big, you can’t convert it to ISO file. The sblive and ISO file are stored under your home directory by default, but they are not visible.

You can also insert your pen drive to your computer and write the sblive file to pen drive. (Click the reload button to detect USB drives.)

systemback bootable USB

Because my system has many programs and files, this process can take some time.

write live system to usb drive

Once it’s done, you can use the bootable USB to install your customized Ubuntu system on other computers.

all systemback ubuntu 18.10

Systemback Config File

The config file is located at /etc/systemback/systemback.conf. You can configure it to automatically create live ISO image, change working directory/storage directory, enable XZ compression, etc.

Backing Up Individual Files and Directories

Systemback is designed to back up the entire system. If you want to back up individual files and directories, then you can use a tool like Duplicati to automatically back up your files to cloud storage. Duplicati can encrypt your files to prevent prying eyes.

Run Systemback on a Linux Server Without GUI

Systemback has a command line interface (sudo systemback-cli), but it’s very limited in what it can do. It only allows you to create restore points. You can’t create a live ISO file. Luckily, you can run Systemback GUI interface on a Linux server without having to install a full-blown desktop environment. Here’s how.

Install an X window system and basic video driver. Xinit allows you to run a GUI program in X window system, without having to start a window manager or a full desktop environment.

sudo apt install xinit xterm xserver-xorg-video-fbdev libvdpau-va-gl1 xserver-xorg-video-qxl

Create a systemd service unit with a command-line text editor like Nano.

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/systemback.service

Add the following lines to the file.

[Unit]
  Description=Systemback
  After=multi-user.target

[Service]
  Type=simple 
  Environment=HOME=/root
  ExecStart=/usr/bin/xinit /usr/bin/systemback
  Restart=always
  RestartSec=2

[Install]
  WantedBy=multi-user.target

Save and close the file. Then enable auto-start at boot time.

sudo systemctl enable systemback.service

Start it now.

sudo systemctl start systemback.service

Check status. Make sure it’s active (running).

sudo systemctl status systemback

If your Linux server runs on the cloud, you can access the Systemback graphical interface via VNC. Most VPS providers offer a web-based VNC console, so you can use it without installing VNC client software on your local computer.

The following screenshot shows the web-based VNC console for my Kamatera VPS. I can use my mouse to click on the various menu to easily make a full backup of the server.

Run Systemback on a Linux Server Without GUI

If your VPS provider doesn’t offer a web-based VNC console, then you can use Apache Guacamole to set it up. But on the other hand, it’s a good idea to migrate to a better VPS provider.

Please note that it will use lots of CPU and RAM resources to create live ISO file. Make sure your server has enough RAM. You might want to stop some services before creating the ISO file to prevent the out-of-memory problem.

Use SSH X Forwarding to Run Graphical Programs on Headless Server

If your hosting provider doesn’t offer a web-based VNC console, you can also use SSH X Forwarding to run Systemback on the headless server without having to install a graphical desktop environment. The graphical application will use the X server of your local computer. Note: Your local computer must run an X server for this to work.

Edit the SSH server config file.

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Find the following lines.

X11Forwarding yes
#X11DisplayOffset 10
#X11UseLocalhost yes

Change them to

X11Forwarding yes
X11DisplayOffset 10
X11UseLocalhost no

Save and close the file. Then install xauth.

sudo apt install xauth

Restart SSH server.

sudo systemctl restart ssh

Edit the SSH client config file on your local computer.

sudo nano /etc/ssh/ssh_config

Find the following lines.

# ForwardAgent no
# ForwardX11 no

Change them to:

ForwardAgent yes
ForwardX11 yes

Save and close the file. Next, SSH into the server with -X flag. You must log in as root, because Systemback needs to run as root.

ssh -X [email protected]12.34.56.78

Once you are logged in, run the following command to start Systemback.

systemback

The application window will appear on your local computer screen because it uses the X server of your local computer. If the latency is very high, then it might take a while for it to display on your computer screen.

Recommended reading: 5 Effective Tips to Harden SSH Server on Ubuntu

Wrapping Up

I hope this tutorial helped you install Systemback on Ubuntu 22.04 and 20.04. As always, if you found this post useful, then subscribe to our free newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Take care 🙂

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61 Responses to “How to Install Systemback on Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint

  • Victoria
    4 years ago

    Excellent service! This worked without problems on both my computers. Thanks Xiao, Happy Christmas and New year.

  • …sorry,
    my system : Ubuntu Studio 22.10 Xfce

    thx
    rolw

  • Manfred
    4 years ago

    great tutorial, i love it!!! ty so much 🙂

  • Polleke
    4 years ago

    Thank you so much!
    It’s a relief to have it back!

    • Jon Loveless
      1 month ago

      When you specify an Ubuntu version does this mean it won’t work on newer versions? This is the absolute best Ubuntu help anywhere. You are a wizard! Love it and will donate!!

      • Polleke
        1 month ago

        I don’t use systemback anymore. I found TimeShift. A much easyer app to use. You can find it in you software shop.

  • Thank you so much!

    Realy great work!

  • After creating my liveUSB with Systemback, I’m successfully able to run the system from the USB.

    But when I attempt the System-Install of my distro my “Partition Settings” table only shows the partition of the liveUSB. None of the rest of my partitions are visible.

  • Stephen A. Sprague Jr.
    4 years ago

    Awesome, Can’t thank you enough for all of your help.
    SASJ

  • Polleke
    4 years ago

    Install libqt5gui5 with Synaptic in your system, libqt5gui5 is present but not standard installed

  • Will this also apply to Debian 10 buster?
    Has anyone tested it already?

    • Xiao Guo An (Admin)
      4 years ago

      Hi. Yes, it applies to Debian 10 Buster as well.

  • Carmine Tambascia
    4 years ago

    Seems a great solution. Would be awesome if the software could get supported from some Open source community or get official in the Ubuntu community as I think is a great tool potentially save hours in case of any system crash after a new drivers( as recently happened to me).

  • Alexey Shcherbakov
    3 years ago

    Much obliged. With this software i can have my desktop os on the usb drive no matter whenever i’am at the point. God bless you.

  • Watiley
    3 years ago

    Here, Linux MInt 19.2 (Tina) , and SystemBack Working Fine! 🙂
    Tk’s and Congrat’s!
    Y’re the Best!

  • systemback is not actually dead it seems.

    https://gitlab.com/Kendek/systemback

  • William Mah
    3 years ago

    Cannot start the Systemback graphical user interface!

    Unable to get root permissions.

    Cannot start the Systemback graphical user interface!  Unable to get root permissions.

    • Xiao Guoan (Admin)
      3 years ago

      You can start it from command line with root. (Don’t omit the – character.)

      sudo su -

      Set the $DISPLAY environment variable.

      export DISPLAY=:0.0

      Start Systemback.

      systemback
  • Larry Hale
    3 years ago

    Thanks, that worked on Linux Mint 19.3 after going into Software Sources/Maintenance and updating keys.

  • Thank you very much, it’s work. Nice share

  • mark simmons
    3 years ago

    although I got it installed on 20.04 the live system image creation is taking a very long time and no further sign of any change in the progress bar, as yet. Using htop with a filter (f5) to show only systemback processes does show activity. The folder /home/Systemback doesn’t yet have anything in it. Just think the gtk dialog box needs to be a bit more informative to show in more detail what it is doing. We’ll see whether it does anything…

  • Irre!
    Super!
    Endgeil!……
    ………

    Eine Frage allerdings bleibt, spielt dann systemback auch malware auf?

    Danke!

    Interessant waere auch, wie sowas manuell geht.

    Danke nochmal!

  • I am getting initramfs image error when trying to create the image. Ran through all the known troubleshooting with still no success any idea what be my issue?

    Thanks

    • metafile
      3 years ago

      1 – Install ‘live-boot’
      2 – then remove ‘casper’
      3 – problem should be solved.

      note:-

      4 – Any iso you already have WILL still boot onwards by carrying out the following:-

      1 – press ‘enter’
      2 – enter ‘ctl-d’

      solved!

      Seriously, hope it helped.

  • metafile
    3 years ago

    Nice tutorial, bookmarked..!

    But take a look at my response to “David” above; The actions I describe are a must for 18.04 onwards, or you will end up wit an iso that can only be ‘forced’ to boot in the way I describe as an ‘addenda’ fro David.

    Best wishes,
    matafile

  • I start Systemback with:

    sudo systemback

    But got error:

    QStandardPaths: XDG_RUNTIME_DIR not set, defaulting to '/tmp/runtime-root'
    
     Unsafe X Window authorization!
    

    Thanks so much. Playing with Ubuntu is a new and rewarding experience. Want to migrate away from Windows.

    • Xiao Guoan (Admin)
      3 years ago

      You should not run it with sudo.

      Switch to root and start Systemback. (Don’t omit the – character.)

      sudo su -

      Set the $DISPLAY environment variable.

      export DISPLAY=:0.0

      Start Systemback.

      systemback
  • I tried to run it as root, but got error:

    qt.qpa.xcb: could not connect to display 
    qt.qpa.plugin: Could not load the Qt platform plugin "xcb" in "" even though it was found.
    This application failed to start because no Qt platform plugin could be initialized. Reinstalling the application may fix this problem.
    
    Available platform plugins are: eglfs, linuxfb, minimal, minimalegl, offscreen, vnc, wayland-egl, wayland, wayland-xcomposite-egl, wayland-xcomposite-glx, xcb.
    
    Aborted (core dumped)
    
    • Xiao Guoan (Admin)
      3 years ago

      Please Set the $DISPLAY environment variable after switching to root.

      export DISPLAY=:0.0
  • ok up to this point no idea what to do next

    Reading state information... Done
    Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
    requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
    distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
    or been moved out of Incoming.
    The following information may help to resolve the situation:
    
    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
     systemback : Depends: casper but it is not installable or
                           live-boot but it is not installable
                  Depends: syslinux ( 3:6) but it is not installable
                  Depends: syslinux ( 3:6) but it is not installable
                  Recommends: grub-efi-amd64-bin but it is not installable
                  Recommends: lupin-casper but it is not installable
                  Recommends: systemback-cli (= 1.8.402) but it is not going to be installed
                  Recommends: systemback-locales (= 1.8.402) but it is not going to be installed
    E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.
    
    • Xiao Guoan (Admin)
      3 years ago

      Try manually installing these dependencies with:

      sudo apt install casper live-boot syslinux grub-efi-amd64-bin lupin-casper systemback-cli systemback-locales

      Then install systemback.

      sudo apt install systemback
  • Questo tutorial funziona anche su Ubuntu 20.04 (Does this tutorial also work on Ubuntu 20.04)?

    Grazie.

    Ciao.

  • Augustine
    3 years ago

    Thanks so much for this well covered and thoughtful tutorial. Also, LOL to the name sblive.

  • Systemback for Ubuntu 18.04…? Please

  • i installed system-back from your ppa and made an image used multi-system to write it to an sd card , i have installed it several times with out problem till now, one of the computers after install . i updated the computer kernel update it printed ( initramfs-tools is disabled since running on read only media ) this is a hard drive in a laptop not a usb drive. linux-image-5.3.0-51-generic was the kernel i was trying to update to. i ended up reinstalling it twice then when i could not get past, ( initramfs-tools is disabled since running on read only media )
    i dropped back to 18.04.3.iso installed image from ubuntu and it installed and updated to linux-image-5.3.0-51-generic
    my question is how and why initramfs-tools is saying read only media , i would think there is a file some where that could be changed to get around this .

  • i have installed it on ubuntu-mate 20.04 install went fine, it made the image fine, i wrote it to a usb key and installed it on a laptop every thing seems good , i will have to make sure the problem doesn’t persist with initramfs-tools is disabled since running on read only media.

  • Works great.

  • It works on my linux Lubuntu 20.04 lts !

  • Agustín
    3 years ago

    Hi, I have used the option of system-back to convert the file to .iso, and it went onto the usb, but when I try to boot it gives an error saying “this is not a typewriter” and other messages I don’t understand.
    I am using Peppermint Eight.
    Any ideas?
    MTIA

  • Hi guyz & girlz,
    I have had installation failures related to remastersys failing to format an USB key correctly
    the remedy is to format the USB device in EXT2 format before starting usb installation….
    also, check you have ubiquity-frontend-gtk installed….
    good luck !

  • Robert Fejes
    3 years ago

    I keep getting:

    The Live system creation is aborted!
    There has been critical changes in the file system during this operation.
    

    But nothing that I’m aware of is happening in the file system.

  • Dear brothers..

    I am using it with Ubuntu Mate 20.04.2 and no problems appeared so far. I love it.

  • Finda Affandi
    2 years ago

    thank you bro, your writing helps my assignment

  • James in Australia
    10 months ago

    Works fine in Linux Mint Mate 20.3 as per your instructions.
    Followed your instructions and everything loaded ok – no errors.
    Thank you keeping this program going.
    I’m sure everyone out there is very grateful.

  • The repository ‘https://repo.linuxbabe.com bullseye InRelease’ is not signed.
    N: Updating from such a repository can’t be done securely, and is therefore disabled by default.

    • Xiao Guoan (Admin)
      1 month ago
      wget --quiet -O - https://repo.linuxbabe.com/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc
      
      echo "deb [signed-by=/etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/linuxbabe-pubkey.asc arch=$( dpkg --print-architecture )] https://repo.linuxbabe.com $(lsb_release -cs) main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/linuxbabe.list
      
      sudo apt update
      
      sudo apt install systemback
      
  • David Cohen
    1 month ago

    I’ve no doubt this does everything claimed. But timeshift is system supported and does it’s thing with no intervention on my part after initial setup. User data is kept up to date using using lucky backup and external media. Occasionally I run a system backup and am now using ‘redo’. The point is just as we have numerous Linux distributions, we also have many backup programs. For me, only one of each is needed, but to each his own. But do keep a backup of everything, things can and do go wrong. Love Linux and the support blogs, even my technically challenged wife is happily using it.

  • Rodney Jackson
    1 month ago

    Thank you for publishing this message, I didn’t know something like this existed. After the weekend, I will have a go at running this program and if it is as good as it seems, I will be happy to donate. I am running Ubuntu 22.10 so I hope it works with this distribution. Many thanks for your work.

    Rod. J.

  • Ubuntu 22.04…. tried all notes above and still get:

    [email protected]:~# systemback
    Authorization required, but no authorization protocol specified
    
    Authorization required, but no authorization protocol specified
    
    qt.qpa.xcb: could not connect to display :0.0
    qt.qpa.plugin: Could not load the Qt platform plugin "xcb" in "" even though it was found.
    This application failed to start because no Qt platform plugin could be initialized. Reinstalling the application may fix this problem.
    
    Available platform plugins are: eglfs, linuxfb, minimal, minimalegl, offscreen, vnc, xcb.
    
    Aborted (core dumped)
    
    • Xiao Guoan (Admin)
      1 month ago

      Before switching to root, run

      xhost +local:
  • Christopher D
    4 weeks ago

    I used this to create a backup of my system. I had to run as root from the terminal but overall it worked and I was able to clone my system to a different pc (from a Dell G15 to a Lenovo T450s and overall this did what it was supposed to do. Overall very happy

  • Tariqul Islam
    6 days ago

    Hello,
    Facing a problem to launch systemback app from 22.04

  • dragonsway
    6 days ago

    Hi there great tutorial and tool.. thanks for your efforts

    Status:
    I am on Ubuntu 20.04 Desktop and I can can successfully start and run systemback as the root user.

    Problems:
    On every boot I receive this error message:

    Cannot start the Systemback scheduler daemon!
    
    Unable to get root permissions.
    

    I have check the systemd directories and no such daemons exist. can you tell me how to create them? Or How to get rid of this message?

    Other Problem:
    I also get a permissions error if I try to start Systemback as non-root user due a permissions error, instead of being prompted to enter a password. Any ideas?

    Thanks

  • dragonsway
    6 days ago

    Hey there… update:

    Did some more snooping… all ubuntu states that the systemback-scheduler is installed, in reality it is not installed:

    #which systemback-scheduler
    #
    

    The systemback systemd service files do not exist. I tried purging systemback from my ubuntu and reinstalling, but same result.

    Any advice?

    • I am having the same problem-
      “Unable to get root permissions”

  • dragonsway
    5 days ago

    seems to be a problem with the repo packaging :-/

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