Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, ManageEngine IT Matters, Janakiram MSV, Gil Allouche

Related Topics: Linux Containers, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog

Linux Containers: Article

ZFS on Linux

How ZFS on Linux compares to ZFS on Illumos or FreeBSD

On March 27, 2013, ZoL maintainers announced that the 0.6.1 release was ready for wide scale deployment on everything from desktops to servers. Yet, due to lack of maturity and adoption of the ZoL project, maintainers and/or advocates of ZFS aren't comfortable to run ZoL in production yet.

The reason behind the reluctance to use ZoL in production is that ZFS on Solaris took a large number of years to reach maturity and went through ups and downs of bugs related to data corruption and other issues. In the same way, ZoL will need some time to mature as product. It will take about a year to be mature as more people deploy it in production. If developers want to take advantage of ZFS, they can start rolling out less important database servers (i.e. reporting servers, 3rd slave databases) into production and experience the product for about 6 months before rolling out to all database servers. This will give users the confidence and experience to work with ZoL. Alternatively, developers may want to run ZFS on OmniOS because it's been battle tested for decades now.

How ZFS on Linux Compares to ZFS on Illumos or FreeBSD
The implementation of ZFS on Linux when compared to running ZFS on Illumos or FreeBSD is not very different from the perspective of the system administrator. The management and general usage is nearly identical. The only differences are OS specific functionality. For example, on FreeBSD if a user wants to use a zvol for swap space, he/she sets the org.freebsd:swap=on property on the zvol to turn swap on. On Linux, a developer would create a vanilla zvol and set up swap like any other partition with mkswap and swapon. Under the latest versions of all three operating systems mentioned, the Zpool version is at the same level, which is to say based on zpool v28 with additional features added by way of feature flags. They are compatible, users can create a zpool on Illumos/OmniOS, use it, export it, move the disks to a FreeBSD server, import the zpool, use it, export it, move to a Linux server, import the zpool, use it, etc. This exact scenario is something we have done at OmniTI and it worked without a hitch. One issue however is that the ACL support/usability is different on each OS so you'd the user will likely have to clean up the permissions a bit.

Caveats for Running ZFS on Arch Linux in a Production Environment
ZFS under Arch Linux is not part of the main package repository. As ZFS and its utilities are maintained by a third party, developers must rely on the third party to keep the packages up to date. One issue is that every time a new kernel is released (frequently) the ZFS kernel modules must be rebuilt as well. If the company upgrades its system (pacman -Syu) and reboots, but the ZFS modules were not recompiled well, Zpools will not initialize. This becomes especially important when developers have the rootfs under ZFS since this would leave the system unbootable and the user would be forced to recover by means of Rescue CD or, in the case of AWS, moving the EBS volumes to another instance and recovering from there. Linux does have a mechanism for automating this process other than DKMS. However, the arch zfs-modules-dkms package that provides this functionality is not kept up to date, and shouldn't be used.

Also, as briefly mentioned above, it should be noted that one cannot boot directly from ZFS on Linux, users must maintain a Linux bootloader compatible file system for /boot such as ext[234].

Currently, many of the utilities that output information about the filesystem are not ZFS aware and developers can get strange results running commands such as "df" for example, since it does not know the relationship between datasets and their parents. These will not necessarily prevent anything from running, but it is worth noting. Generally it's best to use "zfs list" rather than "df" to get accurate results.

ZFS natively uses NFSv4-style ACLs and is not compatible with Posix-style ACLs. Any applications that rely on Posix-style ACLs will have issues. Default GNU utilities like "ls" for example are not NFSv4 ACL aware.

Lastly, the ZoL project proclaims that ZFS on Linux is production ready, however it is worthwhile to note that it is still very immature at this point. ZFS itself has been around and tested for quite some time and is mature, so be careful and test before using it in a production environment.

How To Install ZFS on Arch with RootFS on ZFS
The Arch Wiki page for Installing Linux on ZFS goes into great detail on how to install Linux on ZFS. The key points are as follows:

  • The ZFS utilities and kernel modules must be built/installed prior to beginning the installation (within the CD Boot environment)
  • Even though you can have the Root FS on ZFS, the Linux bootloaders cannot load the kernel from ZFS currently so you still need a small ext2/3 partition for /boot to hold the kernel, the initramfs, and files that the bootloader requires.
  • There is no "beadm" in Linux to support multiple Boot Environment snapshots currently. One of the benefits of ZFS on Illumos/OmniOS is the ability to rollback to an earlier boot environment when applying updates.
  • When building the initramfs image, the zfs hook must come before the filesystems hook and you should not use the fsck hook at all.
  • You need to enable the ZFS service in systemd as this is not enabled by default. Under a ZFS Root system, this is very important if you like your systems to boot.
  • The "kernel" line of the bootloader needs to include a parameter telling the kernel where the root FS resides. For example, if the root FS is on a Zpool named "rpool" and its dataset is rpool/ROOT/default, then this parameter would be zfs=rpool/ROOT/default.

It is important to remember to export the zpool prior to rebooting after installation otherwise ZFS will complain that the system is different and will not import itself. This is because the new system is, in fact, a different system than the CD Media boot environment. Also, it's a very good idea to rebuild the initramfs (mkinitcpio -p linux) right away once you log into the installed system for the first time to avoid any "pool may be in use" errors due to differences in the CD Media Boot environment when the ramdisk was created initially.

Included at the end of this article are portions of a script used to build ArchLinux on ZFS. The only parts that have been removed are things that are specific to my environment. This is given as an example only to illustrate the steps that can be used, but note that it may or may not match the methods typically used for your environment.

Referencesz
ZFS on Linux Main Page: http://zfsonlinux.org

Arch Wiki - Installing Linux on ZFS: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Installing_Arch_Linux_on_ZFS

Arch Wiki - ZFS: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/ZFS

Appendix A - Excerpts from Vagrant install script

The following are the commands we use when installing ZFS on ArchLinux under Vagrant. The Vagrant specific bits have been removed as they would not apply for installation on a production server. The full script can be found here: https://github.com/Loki22/scripts/blob/master/Vagrant/archzfs_vagrant_install.sh

pacman -Syy

pacman -S --noconfirm base-devel

mkdir /root/build

cd /root/build

wget https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/sp/spl-utils/spl-utils.tar.gz

wget https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/sp/spl/spl.tar.gz

wget https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/zf/zfs-utils/zfs-utils.tar.gz

wget https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/zf/zfs/zfs.tar.gz

for i in spl-utils spl zfs-utils zfs

do

cd /root/build && tar zxvf ${i}.tar.gz

cd /root/build/${i}

makepkg -s --asroot --noconfirm && pacman -U --noconfirm ./${i}*.pkg.tar.xz

done

# Install packages needed for ZFS

pacman -S --noconfirm archzfs dosfstools gptfdisk

# Clear the disk and initialize in GPT Format

sgdisk -o -g /dev/sda

# Partitioning - 3 Partitions (BIOS Boot Partition, /boot, and ZFS)

sgdisk -n 2:2048:+512M -c 2:"Linux Boot Partition" -t 2:8300 /dev/sda

sgdisk -n 3:0:0 -c 3:"ZFS Root Pool" -t 3:bf00 /dev/sda

sgdisk -n 1:34:2047 -c 1:"BIOS Boot Partition" -t 1:ef02 /dev/sda

# Create filesystem for /boot partition

mkfs.ext4 -L BOOT /dev/sda2

# Set up the ZFS Root Pool

modprobe zfs

zpool create rpool /dev/sda3

zfs set checksum=fletcher4 rpool

zfs set atime=off rpool

zfs set compression=lzjb rpool

zfs set mountpoint=none rpool

zpool export rpool

zpool import -d /dev/disk/by-id -R /mnt rpool

# Set up the initial BE (linux doesn't have beadm at this point, but not a bad idea to think ahead)

zfs create rpool/ROOT

zfs create -o mountpoint=/ rpool/ROOT/default

zpool set bootfs=rpool/ROOT/default rpool

# Set up datasets that are not part of the BE

zfs create -o mountpoint=/home -o setuid=off rpool/home

zfs create -o mountpoint=/root -o setuid=off rpool/roothome

# Create swap (example here is 2GB, use 4K block size for 64 bit systems)

zfs create -V 2G -b 4K rpool/swap

mkswap -Lswap -f /dev/rpool/swap

swapon /dev/rpool/swap

# Mount /boot

mkdir /mnt/boot

mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/boot

# Change ZFS repo to core now that we have it installed. This is so the new system will use updated modules linked to the new kernel as opposed to the somewhat more stale kernel that is used on the Install CD.

sed -i 's/demz-repo-archiso/demz-repo-core/' /etc/pacman.conf

# Bootstrap the new installation

pacstrap /mnt base base-devel archzfs sudo gnupg vim

# Generate the fstab minus the ZFS bits of which mounting is handled by ZFS

genfstab -U -p /mnt | grep boot >> /mnt/etc/fstab

# Configuration

CHROOT="arch-chroot /mnt"

# Hostname

echo "myhostname" > /mnt/etc/hostname

# Timezone and Clock

ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /mnt/etc/localtime

hwclock --systohc --utc

# Locale

sed -i 's/^#\(en_US.*\)/\1/' /mnt/etc/locale.gen

$CHROOT locale-gen

echo 'LANG="en_US.UTF-8"' > /mnt/etc/locale.conf

# Keymap

echo "KEYMAP=us" > /mnt/etc/vconsole.conf

# Mkinitcpio

sed -i 's/^\(HOOKS.*\)filesystems keyboard fsck/\1keyboard zfs filesystems/' /mnt/etc/mkinitcpio.conf

$CHROOT mkinitcpio -p linux

# Enable ZFS at boot

$CHROOT systemctl enable zfs.service

# Install GRUB

$CHROOT pacman -S --noconfirm grub-bios

modprobe dm-mod

$CHROOT grub-install --target=i386-pc --recheck --debug /dev/sda

cp /mnt/usr/share/locale/en\@quot/LC_MESSAGES/grub.mo /mnt/boot/grub/locale/en.mo

mv /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg.orig

cat > /mnt/boot/grub/grub.cfg <<EOF

set timeout=2

set default=0

# (0) Arch Linux

menuentry "Arch Linux" {

set root=(hd0,2)

linux /vmlinuz-linux zfs=rpool/ROOT/default

initrd /initramfs-linux.img

}

# (1) Arch Linux (fallback)

menuentry "Arch Linux - Fallback" {

set root=(hd0,2)

linux /vmlinuz-linux zfs=rpool/ROOT/default

initrd /initramfs-linux-fallback.img

}

EOF

# SSH

$CHROOT pacman -S --noconfirm openssh

ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/sshd.service' \

'/mnt/etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/sshd.service'

# Networking on installed system

# Manual linking because systemd isn't running yet

# Run 'ip link' to check the network interface and make sure it's enp0s3

ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/dhcpcd@.service' \

[email protected]rvice'

# Clean up

# Remove downloaded packages

$CHROOT pacman -Scc --noconfirm

# Set your root password

passwd root

# Unmount filesystems, change ZFS mountpoints, and reboot

umount /mnt/boot

zfs umount -a

zpool export rpool

echo "If there were no errors, it would now be safe to reboot into the new system."

Appendix B - Recovery process if ZFS modules are not rebuilt on kernel upgrade
As mentioned above, the ZFS modules need to be rebuilt on every kernel upgrade. If this isn't done, you need to recover from a rescue environment. The recovery process (assuming booting from CD) is to build the ZFS modules/utils from the AUR (spl-utils, spl, zfs-utils, and zfs) in the temporary rescue environment, loading the ZFS module, mounting the Zpool under /mnt, mounting the /boot FS at /mnt/boot, chrooting, building the ZFS modules/utils again against the kernel in the chroot environment, rebuilding initramfs (mkinitcpio -p linux), and rebooting. Needless to say, not fun while people are screaming at you because the production server is down. This problem will be alleviated at some point when the ZFS packages are adopted into the main repositories and maintained with the rest of the release process.

More Stories By Kevin Loukinen

Kevin Loukinen is Site Reliability Engineer at OmniTI. Prior to that, he worked both as a Systems Administrator and Network Administrator for more than 12 years across several industries (financial, government and telecommunications).

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, discussed how leveraging the Industrial Internet a...
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
IoT generates lots of temporal data. But how do you unlock its value? You need to discover patterns that are repeatable in vast quantities of data, understand their meaning, and implement scalable monitoring across multiple data streams in order to monetize the discoveries and insights. Motif discovery and deep learning platforms are emerging to visualize sensor data, to search for patterns and to build application that can monitor real time streams efficiently. In his session at @ThingsExpo, ...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
WebRTC is bringing significant change to the communications landscape that will bridge the worlds of web and telephony, making the Internet the new standard for communications. Cloud9 took the road less traveled and used WebRTC to create a downloadable enterprise-grade communications platform that is changing the communication dynamic in the financial sector. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Leo Papadopoulos, CTO of Cloud9, discussed the importance of WebRTC and how it enables companies to focus...
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Yahoo's operating business for approximately $4.83 billion in cash, subject to customary closing adjustments. Yahoo informs, connects and entertains a global audience of more than 1 billion monthly active users** -- including 600 million monthly active mobile users*** through its search, communications and digital content products. Yahoo also co...
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Is your aging software platform suffering from technical debt while the market changes and demands new solutions at a faster clip? It’s a bold move, but you might consider walking away from your core platform and starting fresh. ReadyTalk did exactly that. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, will discuss why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and over a decade of audio conferencing product development to start an innovati...
It’s 2016: buildings are smart, connected and the IoT is fundamentally altering how control and operating systems work and speak to each other. Platforms across the enterprise are networked via inexpensive sensors to collect massive amounts of data for analytics, information management, and insights that can be used to continuously improve operations. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Chemel, Co-Founder and CTO of Digital Lumens, will explore: The benefits sensor-networked systems bring to ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...