Use a Windows NTFS, or Linux, or other–formatted disk for Apple Time Machine Backups

It is well known that you have to use an Apple formatted disk (HFS+) for Time Machine Backups and you can’t use an NTFS formatted disk, or any of the preferred *nix disk formats with Time Machine.

Except you can.

Gotchas And Caveats

It’s not always a first choice option:

  • If your Windows drive is connected over USB2, it will be much slower than a Mac disk connected over Thunderbolt or FireWire. My first backup of 120GB took about 10 hours, aka all night. But that was still better than no backup whilst waiting for a new drive to arrive in the post.
  • The backup volume will not auto-mount when you plug the drive in. You must manually double-click the <YourMachineName>.sparsebundle in the Finder each time you plug the drive in. After that, Time Machine backups will run as normal.

Instructions

  • Plug in your foreign-formatted disk and get a read/write driver for it
  • Save the the script from tmMakeImage script in, for instance, your Downloads directory.
  • Open a terminal window.
  • If you saved to Downloads, then something like this should make the script executable and show you command line usage:
    cd ~/Downloads
    chmod a+x tmMakeImage
    mv tmMakeImage /usr/local/bin
    tmMakeImage
  • So if your external drive has a Volume called WinDrive, and your Mac drive is about 250GB then this command should initialise it for Time Machine backups:
    tmMakeImage 500GB /Volumes/WinDrive GO
  • Optionally, follow up with an immediate tmutil startbackup

Opening the Time Machine preferences should now show that you have “Time Machine Backups” selected as your backup drive. Don’t forget to double-click the sparsebundle each time you attach the drive, to mount your Backup Volume and allow Time Machine to do its stuff.

Background

Using Sparsebundles to create HFS+ formatted drive on a ‘foreign’ disk format

Apple created, it seems, sparse images and sparse bundles to solve the problem of saving backups on a network drive. Time Machine uses and recognises them. It will even auto-mount the sparsebundle disk image when you re-attach the drive in order to start running a backup.

Local drives and network drives

Most instructions on the web focus on network drives. Good instructions without any command-line stuff is here: http://www.hciguy.com/2010/06/16/using-time-machine-to-backup-your-mac-to-an-ntfs-drive-over-the-network-running-win-7/ For network drives, the sparsebundle name includes your Mac’s MAC address which it doesn’t need to for a locally-connected drive.

Things Under the Hood of Time Machine Disks

  • You can’t create a sparsebundle directly on a network or ‘foreign’ drive so the typical thing is to create it on your machine first, and then copy it to its final destination.
  • Sparsebundles don’t use up empty space. An sparsebundle declared as 500GB but still empty will only take up a few megabytes of real disk space.
  • A sparsebundle used by Time Machine has a com.apple.TimeMachine.MachineID.plist file in the package, which contains the UUID of the physical machine it belongs to. This stops you accidentally using backups on the ‘wrong’ machine. (Time Machine does let you browse and use ‘wrong’ backups though).
  • A Time Machine drive must have “Ignore ownership permissions” Off, whereas by default the Mac mounts external drives with “Ignore ownership permissions” set to On. This setting is not stored on the drive itself; it’s stored on your machine and can be specified each time the drive is mounted (man hdiutil) or specified permanently (man vsdbutil)
  • You can set the Time Machine destination to a sparsebundle on an attached drive by first mounting it then doing tmutil setdestination /Volumes/Volumenameonceitsbeenmounted. You mount the image either by double-clicking it in Finder, or with hdiutil attach /path/to/image.
  • Learn More:
    man tmutil
    man hdiutil
    man vsdbutil
    
  • You can still use your backup disks for other files alongside your Time Machine backups. Just don’t touch the Backups.backupdb folder! The Finder will protect it to some extent; it doesn’t let you modify things in there, but it will let you delete and add things.
  • The Script

    Most of the things in the tmMakeImage script can be found on the net going back to 2007, but you’ll still find recent answers on the internet saying it can’t be done.

Compile & Build Mono on Mac OS X

In spite of what you might still read on http://www.mono-project.com/, mono source moved to github.com/mono/mono. To build and compile on the mac however the simplest instructions are still the “One Stop Shop Build Script” at the bottom of http://www.mono-project.com/Compiling_Mono_on_OSX. They worked for me first time although I hit a couple of issues:

  1. Having a space in the path to where I built it broke the build script
  2. Fetching the mono repo from git failed several times. This may – or may not – be related to the OS X 10.9 Mavericks / Versions issue noted at http://www.git-tower.com/blog/make-git-rebase-safe-on-osx/ but I’ve had no further problems since following their instruction to
    git config --global core.trustctime false

New Microsoft Remote Desktop client for Mac

Remote desktop for Mac is old, and can’t always connect. It can’t connect to Windows 8.1 for instance. I keep getting the “Remote desktop connection cannot verify the identity of the computer that you want to connect to”, even though I tell it to connect anyway.

If like me your first reaction to “it doesn’t work” was to try the “Check for Upgrades” menu item then you’ll want to know that _that_ doesn’t work either.

Instead, go straight to the App store and install it from there. The spiffy new version is a great new app and works just fine.

Asp.Net MVC4 C# Razor Template for Mono on Mac and Linux

Is available on www.github.com/chrisfcarroll/AspNetTemplatesForMono/Mvc4CSharpRazorFx45Intranet. (The github download includes all the required dlls in case you don’t have NuGet working, so it’s an oversized download. If you do have NuGet working, you’ll find everything as NuGet expects).

One step to get the MVC4 template working on Mono

Download from github and open the solution in Xamarin Studio. It should almost work out-of-the-box; the one thing you have to do is either do this from the command line:

sudo mkdir /Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/3.2.5/etc/mono/registry
sudo chmod g+rwx /Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/3.2.5/etc/mono/registry

(replacing 3.2.5 with your mono version, which you get at the command line with mono --version);
Or, the alternative to this is to delete the reference to Microsoft.Web.Infrastructure.dll from the project and delete it from the bin directory too.
Small disclaimer: tested on Mac only. If you can offer feedback for Linux/Windows that would be great.

Footnote: How to build the Visual Studio Asp.Net MVC 4 template on Mono

For the interested who have a copy of VS2012, here’s the recipe.

  1. From Visual Studio 2012 create a new Project with the C#-Web-MVC4 Wizard and choose Intranet-Razor-No Unit Test.
  2. Try to run the resulting project on Mono on Mac.
  3. Address the problems arising in the following order
    1. System.UnauthorizedAccessException

      Access to the path “/Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/3.2.5/etc/mono/registry” is denied. (Where the whole path varies by O/S & 3.2.5 is your mono version).

      Resolution

      sudo mkdir /Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/3.2.5/etc/mono/registry
      sudo chmod g+rwx /Library/Frameworks/Mono.framework/Versions/3.2.5/etc/mono/registry

      i.e. allow members of admin group to read/write the registry. Obviously you could widen privileges but this is all that’s needed for asp.net.

    2. System.TypeLoadException

      Could not load type ‘System.Data.Entity.Migrations.Sql.SqlCeMigrationSqlGenerator’ from assembly ‘EntityFramework, Version=5.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b77a5c561934e089’.

      Resolution

      Remove references to Entity framework from THREE places: web.config, Project references AND delete them from the bin directory if they in there:

      • System.Data.Entity
      • System.Web.Entity
      • Entity.Framework
    3. System.TypeLoadException

      Could not load type ‘System.Net.Http.MultipartRelatedStreamProvider’ from assembly ‘System.Net.Http.Formatting …

      Resolution

      add this redirect to the web.config. You should find there are other ‘dependentAssembly’ redirects in there within the section so put it alongside them:

      <dependentAssembly>
        <assemblyIdentity name="System.Net.Http" publicKeyToken="b03f5f7f11d50a3a" culture="neutral"/>
          <bindingRedirect oldVersion="0.0.0.0-4.0.0.0" newVersion="4.0.0.0"/>
        </dependentAssembly>
    4. And finally … System.Web.HttpException

      Unauthorized.
      Because you don’t have windows authentication available to you when running on Mac or Linux.

      Resolution

      Comment out

      <deny users="?"></deny>

      from the web.config.
      Note that you’re now unsecured. The simplest way to add security back in is to use Forms authentication. If you don’t know how to do this, the simplest start might to look at http://google.com/search?q=Forms+authentication+user+names+in+web.config

Kudos