Why Time Machine is more than rsync with a pretty face

When Time Machine appeared on OS X, it was met with a collective shrug among the Linux community : “It’s just a good-looking backup system, anyone can do the same with a cron/bash/rsync”. This is wrong and here’s why, in pictures.

 

When you activate Time Machine from the Finder, you get this :

Time Machine on the Finder

 

But here’s what you get when you activate Time Machine from Mail :

 

Time Machine in Mail

 

Yes, you stay in Mail. You do the lookup within Mail. You don’t have to drop into Mail’s guts and how it stores messages to restore one. The backup system is fully integrated in the applications it backs up. 

Same from the Address Book :

Time Machine in Address Book

 

Unfortunately it doesn’t work like this for all Apple applications yet (for instance ical or iphoto don’t support this at the moment, which is too bad since they’d be good candidates). Nevertheless, you can see that the intent goes way beyond providing a backup system with a fancy UI. The level of integration in the OS is unprecedented. Good luck ever implementing that on Linux.

 

3 thoughts on “Why Time Machine is more than rsync with a pretty face”

  1. I know this an old post. I just tried this and as of dec/2008 you can only restore a mailbox (i.e. the entire file) not a message. I don’t understand why they can’t use a version control system for their internal apps with mostly text information.

    GUI is cool though and you are reading the old messages. So Time machine still isn’t doing anything that rsync can’t do by assuming that messages are in the same directory now as they were in the past. So yeah I think KDE or Gnome could offer this (and should).

  2. A version control system works mostly on files being changed, in the case of Mail it’s mostly directories being changed. A VCS would quickly amount to exactly what Time Machine does, i.e. incremental backups.

    So Time machine still isn’t doing anything that rsync can’t do

    You didn’t understand my point. Time Machine is integrated in (some) OS/X apps. rsync is just a stand-alone tool.

  3. “The level of integration in the OS is unprecedented. Good luck ever implementing that on Linux.”

    Implementing that for KDE would not be too hard.
    You would just have to implement a KIO-slave to get this functionality in every KDE-application (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KIO for details).

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