Backup-With-MSDOS mini-HOWTO: Preface/Introduction

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Earlier I posed the question on the Net, how does one back up a Linux machine to a Colorado Jumbo 250 tape drive on an MS-DOS machine. From the email I received, it seems that this is a frequently pondered problem. Now that I’ve figured it out, I’m posting the method. If anybody wants to massage this into a HOWTO document, let me know. I should thank Jim Nance ( for pointing out that an MS-DOS machine need not always be an MS-DOS machine. This technique should also work for any other tape drive supported by the ftape module, and for SCSI tape drives with suitable obvious changes (i.e. substituting /dev/st0 for /dev/ftape).

The criteria I set were that the resulting setup should be as secure as possible and should be fairly simple, and take up little or no space on the MS-DOS machine’s hard drive. It should also be capable of recovering from the worst system corruptions, up to and including the theft of the hard disk, requiring a restore to a bare Linux file system. The technique described here uses no hard drive space on the MS-DOS machine, though it requires that that machine be assigned an IP#. You will need three formatted, blank 1.44MB diskettes.

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