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Cedar Backup v3

What is Cedar Backup?

Cedar Backup is a software package designed to manage system backups for a pool of local and remote machines. The project was originally maintained at SourceForge, and historical releases still exist there. The project was moved to BitBucket in mid-2015, and revision control was converted from Subversion to Mercurial at the same time.

Cedar Backup understands how to back up filesystem data as well as MySQL and PostgreSQL databases and Subversion repositories. It can also be easily extended to support other kinds of data sources. The backup process is focused around weekly backups to a single CD or DVD disc, with the expectation that the disc will be changed or overwritten at the beginning of each week. Alternately, Cedar Backup can write your backups to the Amazon S3 cloud rather than relying on physical media.

Besides offering command-line utilities to manage the backup process, Cedar Backup provides a well-organized library of backup-related functionality, written in the Python 3 programming language.

There are many different backup software implementations out there in the open source world. Cedar Backup aims to fill a niche: it aims to be a good fit for people who need to back up a limited amount of important data on a regular basis. Cedar Backup isn't for you if you want to back up your huge MP3 collection every night, or if you want to back up a few hundred machines. However, if you administer a small set of machines and you want to run daily incremental backups for things like system configuration, current email, small web sites, Subversion or Mercurial repositories, or small MySQL databases, then Cedar Backup is probably worth your time.

Cedar Backup has been developed on a Debian GNU/Linux system and is primarily supported on Debian and other Linux systems. However, since it is written in portable Python 3, it should run without problems on just about any UNIX-like operating system. In particular, full Cedar Backup functionality is known to work on Debian and SuSE Linux, and client functionality is also known to work on FreeBSD and OS X systems.

Library Code

The Cedar Backup version 3 has been designed as both an application and a library of backup-related functionality. The CedarBackup3 Python package contains a variety of useful backup-related classes and functions. For instance: the IsoImage class represents an ISO CD image; the CdWriter class represents a CD-R/CD-RW writer device; and the FilesystemList class represents a list of files and directories on a filesystem. For more information, see the public interface documentation, generated from the source code using Sphinx Napolean.


See the Changelog for recent changes.

The Cedar Backup Software Manual documents the process of setting up and using Cedar Backup. In the manual, you can find information about how Cedar Backup works, how to install and configure it, how to schedule backups, how to restore data, and how to get support.

The following versions of the manual are available:

Most users will want to look at the multiple-page HTML version.

Package Distributions

Cedar Backup is primarily distributed as a Python 3 source package. You can download the latest release from the BitBucket download page.

Debian packages for Cedar Backup v3, called cedar-backup3 and cedar-backup3-doc, will be available starting with the Debian 'stretch' release. Debian derivatives (such as Ubuntu) should also contain the packages.

Debian users who who want to always run the latest release of Cedar Backup rather than the version included with their distribution can use the Cedar Solutions APT source. See the Cedar Solutions Debian page for more information.


If you think you have found a bug or you would like to request an enhancement, file an issue on the BitBucket issue tracker.

Contributing Improvements

Users are welcome to contribute improvements to Cedar Backup. In the past, users have helped out by reporting unit test failures, making suggestions, requesting enhancements, updating documentation, submitting patches, and beta-testing entire releases or individual bug fixes. As a result, Cedar Backup has evolved into a much more flexible platform than it would otherwise have been. If you are interested in contributing, drop an email to

Migrating from Version 2 to Version 3

The main difference between Cedar Backup version 2 and Cedar Backup version 3 is the targeted Python interpreter. Cedar Backup version 2 was designed for Python 2, while version 3 is a conversion of the original code to Python 3. Other than that, both versions are functionally equivalent. The configuration format is unchanged, and you can mix-and-match masters and clients of different versions in the same backup pool. Both versions will be fully supported until around the time of the Python 2 end-of-life in 2020, but you should plan to migrate sooner than that if possible.

A major design goal for version 3 was to facilitate easy migration testing for users, by making it possible to install version 3 on the same server where version 2 was already in use. A side effect of this design choice is that all of the executables, configuration files, and logs changed names in version 3. Where version 2 used cback, version 3 uses cback3: cback3.conf instead of cback.conf, cback3.log instead of cback.log, etc.

So, while migrating from version 2 to version 3 is relatively straightforward, you will have to make some changes manually. You will need to create a new configuration file (or soft link to the old one), modify your cron jobs to use the new executable name, etc. You can migrate one server at a time in your pool with no ill effects, or even incrementally migrate a single server by using version 2 and version 3 on different days of the week or for different parts of the backup.