24.6. Introduction to rsync

rsync is useful when large amounts of data need to be transmitted regularly while not changing too much. This is, for example, often the case when creating backups. Another application concerns staging servers. These are servers that store complete directory trees of web servers that are regularly mirrored onto a web server in a DMZ.

24.6.1. Configuration and Operation

rsync can be operated in two different modes. It can be used to archive or copy data. To accomplish this, only a remote shell, like ssh, is required on the target system. However, rsync can also be used as a daemon to provide directories to the network.

The basic mode of operation of rsync does not require any special configuration. rsync directly allows mirroring complete directories onto another system. As an example, the following command creates a backup of the home directory of tux on a backup server named sun:

 rsync -baz -e ssh /home/tux/ tux@sun:backup

The following command is used to play the directory back:

 rsync -az -e ssh tux@sun:backup /home/tux/

Up to this point, the handling does not differ much from that of a regular copying tool, like scp.

rsync should be operated in “rsync” mode to make all its features fully available. This is done by starting the rsyncd daemon on one of the systems. Configure it in the file /etc/rsyncd.conf. For example, to make the directory /srv/ftp available with rsync, use the following configuration:

gid = nobody
uid = nobody
read only = true
use chroot = no
transfer logging = true
log format = %h %o %f %l %b
log file = /var/log/rsyncd.log

        path = /srv/ftp
        comment = An Example

Then start rsyncd with rcrsyncd start. rsyncd can also be started automatically during the boot process. Set this up by activating this service in the runlevel editor provided by YaST or by manually entering the command insserv rsyncd. rsyncd can alternatively be started by xinetd. This is, however, only recommended for servers that rarely use rsyncd.

The example also creates a log file listing all connections. This file is stored in /var/log/rsyncd.log.

It is then possible to test the transfer from a client system. Do this with the following command:

rsync -avz sun::FTP

This command lists all files present in the directory /srv/ftp of the server. This request is also logged in the log file /var/log/rsyncd.log. To start an actual transfer, provide a target directory. Use . for the current directory. For example:

rsync -avz sun::FTP .

By default, no files are deleted while synchronizing with rsync. If this should be forced, the additional option --delete must be stated. To ensure that no newer files are deleted, the option --update can be used instead. Any conflicts that arise must be resolved manually.

24.6.2. For More Information

Important information about rsync is provided in the man pages man rsync and man rsyncd.conf. A technical reference about the operating principles of rsync is featured in /usr/share/doc/packages/rsync/tech_report.ps. Find latest news about rsync on the project web sit at http://rsync.samba.org/.