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My new setup: One reason why I love DragonFlyBSD

December 1, 2012

I recently switched to DragonFlyBSD as my main OS, and one of my favorite new things I’ve done has been my mirroring setup.

I currently use mercurial to manage my home directory. It works out pretty well,  I have an alias that automatically stages changes and commits with an automatic message and then push the changes to an SD card I had inserted. This also allowed me to backup my home to our home server and/or update my home on my other PC’s using the ssh:// url in hg push. The added benefit of merging changes from when I switch machines was the main motivation behind this setup. (I was thinking of posting about this setup, but it’s not too different than what pretty much everyone else posts on this subject).

Some downsides? Large binary files use a lot of memory to manage. Before we upgraded the memory in our backup server I was using it all up and making mercurial bail. This caused me to make an untracked directory that is a mess, and I’d have to rsync this along with pushing. I’d also have to prune the tree history when it got too big. For moving between machines this is still the best option I’ve found, but for backups it can be a little cumbersome.

With HAMMER on my laptop and backup server,  I had another option, mirror-copy! I simple made a separate pfs for my home directories on the server and laptop, and called mirror-copy with the remote url. This would be a filesystem level mirror to our server, including the automatic snapshots I already have on the laptop’s pfs (which get automatically pruned).

Some downsides to this approach are the pfs-slaves are read-only, so this is really only good for backup purposes (although, I might try some mount_union tricks for when I log into the server), and this of course only works with systems that use HAMMER (currently only DragonFlyBSD as far as I know).

Wait, why not ZFS or BTRFS? Good question. It never occurred to me to use BTRFS this way when I was running Linux, and I never bothered with ZFS on my FreeBSD machine. Technical/concrete comparisons aside, HAMMER feels really well put together and very cohesive.


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