LMDE 3 btrfs timeshift setup
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last modified 2019-03-09

Fix limitations of the original Linux Mint LMDE 3 (debian edition) installer contained with the current lmde3-iso to create a timeshift conformant btrfs-setup using /@ and optional /@home sub-volumes.
Use at your own risk - you have to read and accept the disclaimer


The installer of Linux Mint LMDE 3 (debian edition) of the current lmde3-iso is not able to setup /@ and /@home -sub-volumes.
Installation at btrfs-volumes without sub-volumes does prevent the use of the timeshift btrfs snapshot feature.


The workaround adds the required options to the installer and adjusts the setup to make use of the sub-volumes instead of mounting btrfs volumes straight at / (or /home).


The workaround will require you to perform a fresh setup of LMDE 3.
You need to download an updated version of the installer from the official git-repository, which got the required features added (missing at the released version of the lmde3 iso).
As the required modifications are merged to the master-branch since 2019-03-07, there should be no more need to grab an in-official branch of the installer (special thanks to clem@linuxmint for integrating it).
There are still some "bits" missing - like translations of messages - and the final gui might change with the next lmde-release too.
The password of the user "mint" of the live-system is empty - just press ENTER when being asked for it.
To paste commands to your terminal, either right-click into the terminal and select "paste" from the context-menu, or make the terminal the active window and press SHIFT+CTRL+V.
(copy&paste in terminals require to use SHIFT+CTRL+C and SHIFT+CTRL+V; as CTRL+C is used there to abort running commands).

Operational Steps

1 - Backup data

Backup any important data. To use sub-volumes on btrfs will require you to reformat the root-filesystem. A dedicated btrfs /home-partition could be reused without formatting, but the original data will be located "outside" the regular file-structure on the running install and require extra steps to move related files to the /@home-sub-volume later. Thus in the following it's assumed the install will replace existing data.

2 - live-lmde3 - preparations

Create a bootable lmde3 media (dvd or usb stick) and boot it.
In case you are not using an us-English keyboard, you should configure your keyboard-layout using Menu->Preferences->Keyboard. Switch to the "layout" section of the shown dialog and add yours there using the "+" button. Close the dialog and switch the keyboard layout by clicking onto the he small country-flag in the panel-tray on the lower-right.
Open a terminal update the current package list and install git to be able to grab the files of the updated installer.

apt update
apt install git

3 - download modifications

Starting in the mint users home-directory, download the live-installer from git and switch into the live-installer directory afterwards.

git clone http://github.com/linuxmint/live-installer
cd live-installer

As the original pull-request has been merged to the master-branch in the meantime, the following alternative can be skipped (normally)! BUT - as there might be other (conflicting) merges get added later on, one could try to grab the original modification for btrfs-support explicitly only:


git clone http://github.com/linuxmint/live-installer
cd live-installer
git fetch origin pull/94/head
git checkout -b pullrequest FETCH_HEAD

Replace original files with the updated versions.

sudo cp $vp/frontend/gtk_interface.py /$vp/frontend
sudo cp $vp/installer.py /$vp
sudo cp $vp/partitioning.py /$vp

4 - perform the setup

Launch the installer using the desktop-icon. Follow setup-pages until you reach the partitioning section.
Prepare your partitions as needed using the partition-options = re-use existing ones or add partitions for your root-volume and optional for a separate home-volume.

5 - assign /@ and /@home

Select the root-partition, right-click onto it and select "Edit" to get access to the additional subvolume-options. Select /@ as mountpoint (instead of /) from the available selections. Select "format as btrfs" (is obligatory for the root-fs).
Optional, if you are using a separate btrfs-partition for your home-directory: Select the home-partition and assign it to /@home as mountpoint (instead of /home) the same way. If the partition is already using btrfs and does contain preexisting data, (which you want to recover later) you could leave the format-option empty (as the format-option is optional for a home-partition).

6 - continue setup

After assignment of other partitions as needed, continue the setup and finish the install. The installed lmde3 should now offer a working btrfs-option with timeshift.
Good luck - have fun

Post install

Due to the nature of a sub-volume, files and folders of a previous install will reside "outside" the /@home sub-volume of the installed/running system .
In case you want to reclaim (or delete) files of a preexisting btrfs home-partition, you should run a live-mint to have easier access to all files.


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