13.4. Reversing Changes in Between Snapshots

To reverse changes made between two existing Snapper snapshots, use the undochange command in the following format, where 1 is the first snapshot and 2 is the second snapshot:
snapper -c config_name undochange 1..2


Using the undochange command does not revert the Snapper volume back to its original state and does not provide data consistency. Any file modification that occurs outside of the specified range, for example after snapshot 2, will remain unchanged after reverting back, for example to the state of snapshot 1. For example, if undochange is run to undo the creation of a user, any files owned by that user can still remain.
There is also no mechanism to ensure file consistency as a snapshot is made, so any inconsistencies that already exist can be transferred back to the snapshot when the undochange command is used.
Do not use the Snapper undochange command with the root file system, as doing so is likely to lead to a failure.
The following diagram demonstrates how the undochange command works:
Snapper Status Over Time

Figure 13.1. Snapper Status Over Time

The diagram shows the point in time in which snapshot_1 is created, file_a is created, then file_b deleted. Snapshot_2 is then created, after which file_a is edited and file_c is created. This is now the current state of the system. The current system has an edited version of file_a, no file_b, and a newly created file_c.
When the undochange command is called, Snapper generates a list of modified files between the first listed snapshot and the second. In the diagram, if you use the snapper -c SnapperExample undochange 1..2 command, Snapper creates a list of modified files (that is, file_a is created; file_b is deleted) and applies them to the current system. Therefore:
  • the current system will not have file_a, as it has yet to be created when snapshot_1 was created.
  • file_b will exist, copied from snapshot_1 into the current system.
  • file_c will exist, as its creation was outside the specified time.
Be aware that if file_b and file_c conflict, the system can become corrupted.
You can also use the snapper -c SnapperExample undochange 2..1 command. In this case, the current system replaces the edited version of file_a with one copied from snapshot_1, which undoes edits of that file made after snapshot_2 was created.

Using the mount and unmount Commands to Reverse Changes

The undochange command is not always the best way to revert modifications. With the status and diff command, you can make a qualified decision, and use the mount and unmount commands instead of Snapper. The mount and unmount commands are only useful if you want to mount snapshots and browse their content independently of Snapper workflow.
If needed, the mount command activates respective LVM Snapper snapshot before mounting. Use the mount and unmount commands if you are, for example, interested in mounting snapshots and extracting older version of several files manually. To revert files manually, copy them from a mounted snapshot to the current file system. The current file system, snapshot 0, is the live file system created in Procedure 13.1, “Creating a Snapper Configuration File”. Copy the files to the subtree of the original /mount-point.
Use the mount and unmount commands for explicit client-side requests. The /etc/snapper/configs/config_name file contains the ALLOW_USERS= and ALLOW_GROUPS= variables where you can add users and groups. Then, snapperd allows you to perform mount operations for the added users and groups.