Timeshift alternative for ZFS?

I am planning to switch over to Zorin from Windows. I love Windows's "restore point" feature and I need it in Linux too.
I am planning to install Zorin using ZFS since I read a lot of great comments regarding its speed. Also, I read about "snapshots".

So, is there a GUI app like Timeshift that works with ZFS where I can take "snapshots" of OS?

If I understand correctly, Timeshift works best with "BTRFS" (whatever that is), but it is not compatible with ZFS (I assume it is "rival" tech).

What I actually need: a fast and reliable solution (with GUI) where I can set time intervals for taking "snapshots" of my OS so I can roll back if I make a mistake. I do not need to backup personal files.

if there is no app like that, how to install Zorin in order to use Timeshift with BTRFS?

Thank you very much :slight_smile:

(I am not a Linux expert, sorry for my ignorance).

Hi, and welcome!

While I admire your enthusiasm I think it may be a good idea to start slow.

ZFS and BTRFS are different types of file systems. As with most things there are pros and cons to consider based on your actual needs. For daily usage it's fine to use either or, as you are unlikely to notice any performance difference anyway.

Where ZFS shines is with large storage systems because of its feature to verify data integrity and command line utilities to work with drives. If you are curious, here's a really nice walkthrough about setting up a NAS, and why ZFS specifically was used.

BTRFS would be a nice fit for it. The downside is that it's not a supported option for Zorin OS and you'll have to install it manually yourself. But you can still use Timeshift using the default filesystem (called EXT4), the only difference is that snapshots will take a little longer to run and probably will take more space when compared to BTRFS.

Thank you for the detailed answer!

If I decide to take this approach, is that a one-time thing after which I do not have to worry about it? Are there any downsides? Like, will I be able to regularly update/upgrade the OS?
If there are no downsides, do you have instructions on how to install Zorin OS on BTRFS?

Thanks again.

Edit: I forgot to ask: is there an alternative app to Timeshift but for ZFS?

How to make this work in Zorin? In Grub I have "Zorin, Advanced Options for Zorin, UEFI Firmware Settings", but there is no "Zorin History" (like Ubuntu History).

Note: I am using Zorin in hyper-v. Also, I have enabled disk encryption if that matters.

Everything will continue to work normally, the only downside is that you have to do all the setup and troubleshooting yourself. Unfortunately, I don't know much about that as I've only ever used BTRFS with distributions that provided it as the default filesystem; never used ZFS at all.

But I have to insist that it's best not to rush things. Are you sure you need to use BTRFS or ZFS? Are they really the best tool for the job?
I'm not trying to dissuade you from trying things out but you need to understand that those are advanced topics that most use cases simply don't call for, nor they are some sort of magic that will make your computer fly.

If you are running a VM, wouldn't it be much easier to take snapshots of that instead? Also more portable.


You are right, maybe I do not need it. I want to install and use Zorin OS as my main (daily) OS. I usually do some web tasks and light gaming.

I just need a tool (any) for creating "snapshots" so I can rollback the OS if I break something. I wanted ZFS/BTRFS because I read that it is much faster to create snapshots (less time is needed to finish). But, if you think it will not make much difference in my case, what method and tool do you suggest I should use?

I am using it right now for testing purposes until I install it on my SSD.

Had we learned you were running Zorin as a VM perhaps our responses would have been different. On a personal preference note I always choose Ext4 FS. This is a journaling system, like (but totally different from) NTFS. Further, I never use encryption as there is a potential risk of data loss. For any GNU/Linux OS you are best served by installing to 'bare metal' as VM's don't perform as well, and certainly you should not expect games to run as they should. VM's in GNU/Linux are best run in virt-manager, especially when it comes to graphics and the Desktop.

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This is true, dealing with snapshots will be much faster using a dedicated file system designed with this functionality in mind – seconds, instead of minutes.

However, the performance for everything else won't be much different, if at all. Unless you're planning on breaking your system every other day, in which case it's probably best to stick with a virtual machine.
If something goes wrong and you need to rollback, it'd only take a few minutes. Sure, seconds sounds much better, but it will be worth the time either way.

My point is: don't over complicate things for no reason. I would recommend starting with the defaults and build up from there. You can experiment on virtual machines before committing to real hardware, and even try out different distributions that have these features by default like Fedora or Tumbleweed.


Ok I will. So, in the end, which method should I use to install Zorin OS, and which tool to use for creating restore points? What do you recommend?


You can follow this guide to install Zorin OS. Stick to the defaults at the various prompts and you'll be fine:

For snapshots, Timeshift is usually regarded as the go-to software for snapshots so I'd use that. Remember that snapshots are incremental, and while the first time you run this it'll take a while, subsequent snapshots will be saved much faster.

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