After having accidentally written an .iso file to my hard drive instead of the USB stick I thought I was sending it to... I decided I needed to revisit my computer backup strategy and started looking at the question:
What would it take to restore my system if the internet was down?
I mean, if the whole point of my website is being able to communicate in a grid down situation, then having the ability to convert any laptop or just reinstall from scratch my "HAM Shack" onto my current laptop while offline should be considered pretty important, right?
With Linux Mint it's not as hard as you would think, although it did take some experimenting to know which method would work best offline, for me at least.
I thought using .deb packages would be the easiest route but quickly realized that there are so many dependency programs that are needed for some packages that it was nowhere near "convenient" to go this route.
After trying to get all my favorite programs ready for offline installing, I came to the conclusion that a snapshot backup system would be a better option.
Some programs like CHIRP don't even have a .deb option and others rely on PPA and apt-get to install heavily, so I went with clonzilla live as my final answer.
For me, the plan going forward is to keep all docs I deem crucial on one 128gb USB stick and have an identical USB clone of it (using ddrescue), while keeping the bootable LIVE Clonzilla on a small 4gb drive that looks completely different from the storage drives.
On Linux I found it was easy to download the .iso file and make a live bootable USB with the following commands:
NOTE: LinuxMint now has a
right click "Make bootable USB stick" option that replaces the procedure below.
sudo fdisk -l
to find the proper USB (mistaking /dev/sda [my harddrive] for /dev/sdb [my USB] is what started this adventure!), double check the size of the drive to be sure you have the right one.
sudo dd bs=4M if=path/to/input.iso of=/dev/sd<?> conv=fdatasync status=progress
replace with the appropriate drive letter.
Once you have a bootable USB with clonzilla on it, you just need to prep your hard drive install of Linux (Linux Mint in my case) by installing all the software you want to have off-grid onto your current working laptop and then create a backup .iso of it onto a second USB stick.
Be sure to clean your system up before making snapshots to reduce size of the .iso.
sudo apt-get autoremove sudo apt-get autoclean
Running the default LinuxMint program DISK USAGE ANALYZER is also a good idea.
Below are the programs I deem critical and their install methods for fast reconstruction should all be lost EXCEPT for the internet. :) Using Clonzilla will allow a restore without the internet!!!
The point is to keep your system updated and then immediately backup with Clonezilla so you can re-install off a mirror WITHOUT internet access.