8.8:     Good practices

This section covers the good basic practices that MEPIS Linux 7.0 users should follow to keep their system efficient and secure.

Backup

The most important practice is to back up your data and configuration files regularly, a process that is easy in MEPIS Linux. It is highly recommended that you back up to a different drive than the one your data is on! You can buy a new storage device, or use an old hard drive if you can find one.

Back up data

Make sure you back up your data, including documents, graphics, music, and mail. By default, most of this is stored in your Home directory (/home/YourUserName/).

Back up configuration files

Here is a list of items for backup:

Back up a list of installed program packages

It's also a good idea to save in your /home/username directory a file that contains the list of programs that you have installed with Synaptic, apt-get or KPackage (see Section 7.3 ). If in the future you need to reinstall, you'll just have to paste the names of the files to an apt-get install command. You can create an inventory of all packages on your system installed since installation with:

dpkg --get-selections >list_packages.txt

To reinstall ALL those packages at once:

dpkg --set-selections <list_packages.txt
apt-get update
apt-get dselect-upgrade

Back up using Keep

Keep is a front end for Rdiff-Backup that functions as a backup system for KDE. It is installed with MEPIS Linux 7.0 and can be found by clicking KMenu --> System --> Keep. NOTE: you must run Keep as root to avoid getting an error message. You can set this by right-clicking the Keep menu entry, selecting Edit Item, checking Run as different user, and entering root as the user's name.

To back up using Keep, follow these steps:

  1. Open the app, click on Add directory to backup.
  2. Select a directory for backup, e.g. the default /home/username.
  3. Choose a backup location, e.g. /mnt/SomeRemoteLocation. You can also back up over a network, see the Keep FAQs.
  4. Decide on any backup options, e.g., how frequently the backup should occur.
  5. Click on Finish.
  6. Click on Backup now, highlight the source to back up, and click OK.

To restore a back up:

  1. Open the app, click on Restore a backup.
  2. Select the backup to restore.
  3. Select the destination directory.
  4. Choose a backup date to restore, if there is more than one date.
  5. Click on Finish.

Other common choices: http://www.mepis.org/docs/en/index.php?title=Linux_software#Backup


Disk cloning

As a precaution in case of complete harddisk failure, some users create a complete image of their harddrive, a technique called disk cloning or ghosting. In case a new harddrive must be installed, the user can simply restore the entire image to be back in operation in a few minutes. Open-source (e.g., Partimage, G4L) and proprietary (e.g., Acronis) ghosting software are available to carry out this procedure.

NOTE: Depending on the software used, you may have to carry this out from a separate drive or a LiveCD.

Other common choices: http://www.mepis.org/docs/en/index.php?title=Linux_software#Backup


Remove unneeded services

It's a good idea to remove services that start at boot time and you don't need both to improve security and to limit resources utilization. To stop a program, for example called UnneededProgram from starting, execute this command as root:

update-rc.d -f UnneededProgram remove

Here is a list of services that you might not need (check!):

There is also a KDE module for configuring other services, found by clicking KMenu --> Control Center --> Service Manager. The Service Manager module displays a static list of services that are started on demand and cannot be modified, and a second list of services that can be loaded when KDE starts or manually started when needed.

MEPIS Wiki: Service configuration: http://www.mepis.org/docs/en/index.php?title=Runlevel
Common Linux services: http://www.hosef.org/wiki/DisablingLinuxServices


Disk maintenance

It is rare that you will need to do much disk maintenance compared to Windows, since Linux is designed differently. Still, there may come a moment when you want to check for partition/disk errors, something done in Windows with scandisk. To check for filesystem and disk read/write errors, go through the following steps:

NOTE: The act of defragging a drive, so well known in Windows, is ordinarily unneeded in MEPIS Linux 7.0 as long as you have a standard Linux filesystem such as ext3 or ReiserFS.


Upgrade precautions

These are some time-tested rules of thumb for new users of MEPIS Linux to avoid getting into trouble when upgrading their software:

MEPIS Wiki: upgrade vs. dist-upgrade: http://www.mepis.org/docs/en/index.php?title=Upgrade_vs._dist-upgrade