Backup with Duply and Duplicity

Posted on 17 Jun 2016 by Eric Oestrich

I recently stopped using Crashplan as my backup service of choice. I still wanted backups so I started looking for alternatives. Duply and duplicity came up as a nice choice. This is how I set it up.

This assumes you already have duplicity and duply installed. My linux of choice is Arch and duplicity was in the repo. duply is an AUR that is easily installed.


We need to start by generating a GPG key. This will be used to encrypt backups.

gpg --gen-key

After generating the key, make sure to save the key ID.


I had troubles with pinentry on a GUI-less system. You may need to symlink the pinentry-curses version of pinentry. Found from this forum post.

sudo ln -s /usr/bin/pinentry-curses /usr/bin/pinentry

I also needed to set up GPG to allow gpg password from an ENV variable. This is required with GPG 2.1.


pinentry-mode loopback
# ...


# ...


Start by creating a profile, then edit the configuration.

$ duply eric create


This file sets up basic configuration for duply. The file contains a lot of commented out options. These are the only options I have set right now. I commented what they do inline.

GPG_KEY='...' # your gpg key id, get from `gpg --list-keys`
GPG_PW='...' # your gpg password
GPG_OPTS='--pinentry-mode loopback' # required to use GPG_PW

TARGET='sftp://eric@hostname/backups/hostname' # backing up to another linux machine via SSH
SOURCE='/home/eric/' # grab my home folder

PYTHON="python2" # arch has python 3 default, set for python 2 instead

# run a full backup once a week


I wanted to only include certain folders in my home directory. Duplicity has a nice exclude file format you can use to deal with this. Duply has it baked in. The exclude file is created when creating your profile.

# keep out junk folders
- /home/eric/prog/*/*/log/
- /home/eric/prog/*/*/tmp/

# Include Folders
+ /home/eric/bin
+ /home/eric/Desktop
+ /home/eric/Documents
+ /home/eric/dotfiles
+ /home/eric/Music
+ /home/eric/ownCloud
+ /home/eric/Pictures
+ /home/eric/prog
+ /home/eric/.ssh

# Exclude everything else
- /home/eric/

The important thing to remember is duplicity goes down the list when determining if something is excluded or included. That’s why the log and tmp folders are excluded first. Otherwise they would be included by the /home/eric/prog line if it was first.

Automatic backup

Set cron to run the backup script nightly. I use keychain and needed to source the correct file to get SSH working.

crontab -e

@daily . ~/.keychain/$(hostname)-sh && /usr/bin/duply eric backup


Sometime in the future I want to switch to Google Cloud Storage instead of SSH. I’m currently only backing up between local machines while I’m testing this out. I would like to have an onsite and a cloud backup.

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