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Friday, 10 June 2016

GRE for Linux requirements

If you are using Data Protector to backup your VMware environment, and you have Linux boxes, you might have tried to use the Granular Recovery Extension (VMware GRE). The GRE lets you recover individual files from a VM-level or VMDK-level backup; it does this by mounting the VMDK file on a Linux GRE proxy.

There are three variations of GRE restore:
  • If you backup to a StoreOnce device (e.g. a B6200, a D2D4500, a StoreOnce virtual appliance, or a software storeonce component on a Windows or Linux member of the cell)... then you need a very large disk and not much else.
  • If you backup using 3PAR snapshots (which works very well indeed) and you are doing a GRE recovery from a snapshot, you don't need a big disk or anything else much at all -- just something connected to the 3PAR the meets the usual (documented) list of requirements.
  • The very weirid case is if you use a SmartCache device. These are uncompressed, raw disk spaces for putting VMware backups on to. The SmartCache is accessed by the Windows and Linux proxies via Windows file sharing. Thus the Linux GRE proxy server needs to have Samba installed on it.

One remaining issue, that I hope gets fixed one day soon: the machine that you want to restore to has to have a world-writeable NFS share. Ouch: given that it is copying from one Linux box to another Linux box, I'm not quite sure why this couldn't have been done with SFTP. So I suspect everyone will just have a multi-stage restore for GRE on Linux boxes:
  • Load the backup from StoreOnce onto a large disk.
  • Restore files from that to a server with an insecure NFS share.
  • Copy from the NFS share via SSH to the actual server where you needed the file restored.
I presume also that setuid / setgid binaries are therefore not supported for GRE restore. (Because who creates a world-writeable NFS share without the nosetuid,nosetgid options enabled?) Implication: you can't restore /usr or /sbin from a VMware backup reliably.

Of course, you might find it cheaper to use VMX ( instead of Data Protector -- it is much cheaper than the equivalent GRE and VEAgent licenses. As far as I know, it doesn't face these limitations.

Greg Baker is an independent consultant who happens to do a lot of work on HPE DataProtector. He is the author of the only published books on HP Data Protector ( He works with HPE and HPE partner companies to solve the hardest big-data problems (especially around backup). See more at IFOST's DataProtector pages at, or visit the online store for Data Protector products, licenses and renewals at