Mac to Unix Backup
In this day of limited resources, I especially enjoy hacking together strange combinations of equipment to cover for an expensive solution. Back when I worked for Cornell as a student supervisor, we had a real problem with backups. Most of our Macs were public and didn’t have hard drives, but a couple of servers had hard drives, and the operators’ Macs were similarly equipped. We seemingly had a negative hardware budget but floppy-based backups were simply too much work.
Cornell has a fiber backbone (which is actually more complimentary than it initially sounds :-)) so all of these Macs could easily connect to the various mainframes. What I wanted to do, but never managed to get the time nor the approval for, was to set up some kind of automatic backup scheme whereby the Mac would upload all its files to an account on one of the mainframes, and once up on the mainframe, all the files would be included in the automatic tape backups. I’d decided on using one of Cornell’s Vaxen because binary files uploaded to the IBM mainframe came back down intact but missing the type and creator, not something you’d want to recreate by hand. But, like many of my brainstorms (OK, so maybe that’s pushing it, but it was more than braindrizzle), the scheme fell by the wayside, never to be implemented. The mainframe folks probably would have hated me for it anyway.
Obviously someone at the University of Utah had the same idea, but being slightly brighter than I, decided to implement it with Unix machines and custom software. Succinctly named Dump (in the spirit of Unix, they probably wanted to call it du, but that’s taken already), the program is a small MultiFinder program that talks to the Unix client programs (also supplied in source code) that actually perform the backups and restores. The Mac program synchronizes the Mac’s clock to the Unix machines clock, and you can do full and incremental backups to whatever tape drive or other backup media you have for the Unix machine. The Macintosh program uses TCP, so you do need MacTCP from Apple (available from APDA) for this to work. If you’ve got the necessary network anyway but not MacTCP, you should probably get it because it provides useful services and works with programs such as NCSA Telnet, HyperFTP, and various NNTP servers.
Since many implementations of Unix require a recompile for a program to work, the Unix client programs come only in source code. This also allows sites with complex backup needs to modify the code for their own purposes. Although the code is specifically designed for Unix, and the scripts that manage the backups are Unix shell scripts, you could theoretically write your own client programs on a non-Unix host that supports TCP/IP.
Considering what this product will do for you, the price is quite reasonable at $200 for an educational site and $250 for all other sites. An educational site is a single campus, and all other sites are considered to be a single location or mailing address. As I said before, you do need MacTCP, along with a Mac running MultiFinder under System 6.0 or newer (I don’t know what the compatibility status of MacTCP is with System 7 currently, but I know there are some problems and an upgrade is planned). You also get User, Installation, and Protocol Documentation, which is good, since I have the feeling that this set of programs requires a good bit of customization, for which documentation is essential.
For general information and a copy of the license agreement contact:
University of Utah
Center for Software Science
3190 Merrill Engineering Building
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
For technical information, contact:
APDA — 800/282-2732 US — 800/637-0029 CAN
Brian Sturgill — brian%[email protected]