I've now scrapped Fedora core 2 and installed Mandrake 9.2 instead.
I downloaded the 1.4 beta and have now successfully restored my courses onto this server and the backup now works flawlessly.
Don't know why the Fedora Linux couldn't back up -it was probably something I had omitted to do but there was no indication of what. Presumably the Madrake install puts in the right files automatically (though I did have a tricky time getting all the relevant php packages installed -some seemed to be hiding!).
The important thing is that it is now working.
Backup and restore
automatic backup fails
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