Installing FreeFileSync in Linux Mint 18

My main data backup program is FreeFileSync in both Linux and Windows. However, when I attempted to install this package in Linux Mint 18 (Sarah) using the usual command to add the relevant PPA (sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freefilesync/ffs), I received the error message: Cannot add PPA: ”This PPA does not support xenial”.

A little research on FreeFileSync’s web site indicated that directly installing the current Debian version of the software should work, so I downloaded the file FreeFileSync_8.2_Debian_8.4_64-bit.tar.gz. Double clicking on this file displays the included FreeFileSync folder in Mate’s Engrampa archive manager. Pressing the Extract button then unpacks the FreeFileSync folder into the Downloads directory.

I like to run the program from a program launcher on the desktop. So, I right-click the mouse on the desktop and select Create Launcher. I use FreeFileSync as the name for the launcher since this will be displayed underneath the desktop icon. I use the Browse button to fill out the Command field and navigate to /home/toaster/Downloads/FreeFileSync/FreeFileSync (where “toaster” is my username for this computer). Finally, a left-click on the “spring” icon allows this default icon to be changed for another image. (A search in Google for “freefilesync logo” will surely identify a copyright-free image for such use.) Finally, press the OK button and the launcher will be displayed on the desktop.

The way I normally use FreeFileSync is to do a two-way sychronization between the data partition on my hard disk and an external USB drive that is maintained solely for the purpose of backup. The first time I tried the comparison function, prior to actually synchronizing the two disks, I found that every file on the hard drive needed to be synchronized. Now, this just couldn’t be. The same comparison had been made earlier under Mint 17.3 and, while the operating system partition had been rewritten in the software update, no changes had been made to the data files.

Close inspection of the file listings showed that the time stamps on the files for the hard disk and the external USB drive were different by exactly four hours. For example, one file displayed as:

Mon 06 Aug 2007 08:37:28 PM EDT on the hard disk
Mon 06 Aug 2007 04:37:28 PM EDT on the USB drive

More research on the web suggested that adding the command UTC=no to the file /etc/default/rcs would force Linux to use the “local” time from the computer (as used by Windows 10 in the other boot partition) and standardize the time stamps. On checking on a different machine that was still running Mint 17.3, I found that this command was indeed part of the subject configuration file and so I had great hope that this would prove to be the solution. But, alas, the change had no effect on the Mint 18 system.

Here is where the Linux Mint Forums ( proved to be invaluable. Having posted a description of my problem, I received several replies within a day. One of these (thanks Mark Phelps!) indicated that the “rcs” solution was no longer available in Mint 18 and the answer to my problem was in fact to use the command:

sudo timedatectl set-local-rtc 1

where the 1 indicates that Linux should use the local time (otherwise, 0 means to use UTC).

Sure enough, issuing this command and rebooting the computer fixed the problem so that the time stamps on the files on both my hard disk and the external USB drive were identical, and FreeFileSync now works normally.



File and folder synchronization

FreeFileSync Version 5.23

The /etc/default/rcS file

Incorrect file time stamp in Mint 18

This entry was posted in Applications, Backup, Commands, Mint and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Installing FreeFileSync in Linux Mint 18

  1. Roland says:

    The installation method did not work for me on Mint 18. However this did the job:

    • Alan German says:


      Thank you for this information. I installed FreeFileSync 8.6 on a friend’s Mint 18.1 machine and this method worked flawlessly. I hope that the developers maintain a set of updated deb files. Right now, they are offering FFS 8.6 but the software is actually at Version 8.8 (at least in the Windows version).


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