ZFS for Linux
Presenting the Solaris ZFS filesystem, as implemented in Linux FUSE, native kernel modules and the Antergos Linux installer.
ZFS remains one of the most technically advanced and feature-complete filesystems since it appeared in October 2005. Code for Sun's original Zettabyte File System was released under the CDDL open-source license, and it has since become a standard component of FreeBSD and slowly migrated to various BSD brethren, while maintaining a strong hold over the descendants of OpenSolaris, including OpenIndiana and SmartOS.
Oracle is the owner and custodian of ZFS, and it's in a peculiar position with respect to Linux filesystems. Btrfs, the main challenger to ZFS, began development at Oracle, where it is a core component of Oracle Linux, despite stability issues Red Hat's recent decision to deprecate Btrfs likely introduces compatibility and support challenges for Oracle's Linux road map. Oracle obviously has deep familiarity with the Linux filesystem landscape, having recently released "dedup" patches for XFS. ZFS is the only filesystem option that is stable, protects your data, is proven to survive in most hostile environments and has a lengthy usage history with well understood strengths and weaknesses.
ZFS has been (mostly) kept out of Linux due to CDDL incompatibility with Linux's GPL license. It is the clear hope of the Linux community that Oracle will re-license ZFS in a form that can be included in Linux, and we should all gently cajole Oracle to do so. Obviously, a re-license of ZFS will have a clear impact on Btrfs and the rest of Linux, and we should work to understand Oracle's position as the holder of these tools. However, Oracle continues to gift large software projects for independent leadership. Incomplete examples of Oracle's largesse include OpenOffice and recently Java Enterprise Edition, so it is not inconceivable that Oracle's generosity may at some point extend additionally to ZFS.
To further this conversation, I want to investigate the various versions of ZFS for Linux. Starting within an RPM-centric environment, I first describe how to install the minimally invasive FUSE implementation, then proceed with a native install of ZFS modules from source. Finally, leaving RPM behind, I proceed to the Antergos distribution that implements native ZFS as a supported installation option.
ZFS Technical Background
ZFS is similar to other storage management approaches, but in some ways, it's radically different. ZFS does not normally use the Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM) or disk partitions, and it's usually convenient to delete partitions and LVM structures prior to preparing media for a zpool.
The zpool is the analog of the LVM. A zpool spans one or more storage devices, and members of a zpool may be of several various types. The basic storage elements are single devices, mirrors and raidz. All of these storage elements are called vdevs.
Mirrored vdevs in a zpool present storage that's the size of the smallest physical drive. A mirrored vdev can be upgraded (that is, increased in size) by attaching larger drives to the mirrorset and "resilvering" (synchronizing the mirrors), then detaching the smaller drives from the set Resilvering a mirror will involve copying only used blocks to the target device—unused blocks are not touched, which can make resilvering much faster than hardware-maintained disk mirroring (which copies unused storage).
ZFS also can maintain RAID devices, and unlike most storage controllers, it can do so without battery-backed cache (as long as the physical drives honor "write barriers"). ZFS can create a raidz vdev with multiple levels of redundancy, allowing the failure of up to three physical drives while maintaining array availability. Resilvering a raidz also involves only used blocks and can be much faster than a storage controller that copies all disk blocks during a RAID rebuild. A raidz vdev should normally compose 8–12 drives (larger raidz vdevs are not recommended). Note that the number of drives in a raidz cannot be expanded.
ZFS greatly prefers to manage raw disks. RAID controllers should be configured to present the raw devices, never a hardware RAID array. ZFS is able to enforce storage integrity far better than any RAID controller, as it has intimate knowledge of the structure of the filesystem. All controllers should be configured to present "Just a Bunch Of Disks" (JBOD) for best results in ZFS.
Data safety is an important design feature
of ZFS. All blocks written in a zpool are aggressively checksummed to
ensure the data's consistency and correctness. You can select
the checksum algorithm from sha256, fletcher2 or fletcher4. You also
can disable the checksum on user data, which is specifically
never recommended (this setting might be useful on a
scratch/tmp filesystem where speed is critical, while consistency and
recovery are irrelevant; however,
is the recommended
setting for temporary filesystems in ZFS.
You can change the checksum algorithm at any time, and new blocks will use the updated algorithm. A checksum is stored separately from the data block, with the parent block, in the hope that localized block damage can be detected. If a block is found to disagree with the parent's checksum, an alternate copy of the block is retrieved from either a mirror or raidz device, rewritten over the bad block, then the I/O is completed without incident. ZFS filesystems can use these techniques to "self-heal" and protect themselves from "bitrot" data changes on hard drive platters that are caused by controller errors, power loss/fluctuations in the read/write heads, and even the bombardment of cosmic rays.
ZFS can implement "deduplication" by maintaining a searchable index of block checksums and their locations. If a new block to be written matches an existing block within the index, the existing block is used instead, and space is saved. In this way, multiple files may share content by maintaining single copies of common blocks, from which they will diverge if any of their content changes. The documentation states that a "dedup-capable checksum" must be set before dedup can be enabled, and sha256 is offered as an example—the checksum must be "collision-resistant" to identify a block uniquely to assure the safety of dedup. Be warned that memory requirements for ZFS expand drastically when deduplication is enabled, which quickly can overwhelm a system lacking sufficient resources.
The zpool can hold datasets, snapshots, clones and volumes. A "dataset" is a standard ZFS filesystem that has a mountpoint and can be modified. A "snapshot" is a point-in-time copy of a filesystem, and as the parent dataset is changed, the snapshot will collect the original blocks to maintain a consistent past image. A "clone" can be built upon a snapshot and allows a different set of changes to be applied to the past image, effectively allowing a filesystem to branch—the clone and original dataset will continue to share unchanged blocks, but otherwise will diverge. A "volume" is similar to a block device, and can be loopback-mounted with a filesystem of any type, or perhaps presented as an iscsi target. Checksums are enforced on volumes. Note that, unlike partitions or logical volumes, elements in a zpool can be intermingled. ZFS knows that the outside edge of a disk is faster than the interior, and it may decide to mix blocks from multiple objects in a zpool at these locations to increase performance. Due to this commingling of filesystems, forensic analysis of zpools is difficult and expensive:
But, no matter how much searching you do, there is [sic] no ZFS recovery tools out there. You are welcome to call companies like Ontrack for data recovery. I know one person that did, and they spent $3k just to find out if their data was recoverable. Then they spent another $15k to get just 200GB of data back.
There are no fsck or defrag tools for ZFS datasets. The boot process never will be delayed because a dataset was not cleanly unmounted. There is a "scrub" tool that will walk a dataset and verify the checksum of every used block on all vdevs, but the scrub takes place on mounted and active datasets. ZFS can recover very well from power losses or otherwise dirty dismounts.
Fragmentation in ZFS is a larger question, and it appears related more to remaining storage capacity than rapid file growth and reduction. Performance of a heavily used dataset will begin to degrade when it is 50% full, and it will dramatically drop over 80% usage when ZFS begins to use "best-fit" rather than "first-fit" to store new blocks. Regaining performance after dropping below 50% usage can involve dropping and resilvering physical disks in the containing vdev until all of the dataset's blocks have migrated. Otherwise, the dataset should be completely unloaded and erased, then reloaded with content that does not exceed 50% usage (the zfs send and receive utilities are useful for this purpose). It is important to provide ample free disk space to datasets that will see heavy use.
It is strongly encouraged to use ECC memory with ZFS. Error-correcting memory is advised as critical for the correct processing of checksums that maintain zpool consistency. Memory can be altered by system errors and cosmic rays—ECC memory can correct single-bit errors, and panic/halt the system when multi-bit errors are detected. ECC memory is normally found in servers, but becomes somewhat rare with desktops and laptops. Some warn of the "scrub of death" and describe actual lost data from non-ECC RAM. However, one of the creators of ZFS says that all filesystems are vulnerable when non-ECC memory is in use, and ZFS is actually more graceful in failure than most, and further describes undocumented settings that force ZFS to recompute checksums in memory repeatedly, which minimizes dangers from non-ECC RAM. A lengthy configuration guide addresses ZFS safety in a non-ECC environment with these undocumented settings (https://www.csparks.com/ZFS%20Without%20Tears.html), but the guide does not appear to cover the FUSE implementation.
The Linux implementation of FUSE received a ZFS port in 2006. FUSE is an interface that allows a filesystem to be implemented by a process that runs in userspace. Fedora has maintained zfs-fuse as an RPM package for some time, but this package does not appear in any of the Red Hat-based distributions, including Oracle Linux. Red Hat appears to have intentionally omitted any relevant RPM for ZFS support.
The FUSE implementation is likely the only way to (currently) use ZFS on Linux in a manner that is fully compliant with both the CDDL and the GPL.
The FUSE port is relatively slow compared to a kernel ZFS implementation. FUSE is not generally installed in a manner that is compatible with NFS, so a zfs-fuse filesystem cannot be exported over the network without preparing a FUSE version with NFS support (NFSv4 might be available if an fsid= is supplied). The zfs-fuse implementation is likely reasonable for local, archival and potentially compressed datasets. Some have used Btrfs for ad-hoc compressed filesystems, and zfs-fuse is certainly an option for similar activity.
The last version of zfs-fuse that will work in Oracle Linux 7.4 is the RPM in Fedora 25. A new ZFS release is in Fedora 26, but it fails to install on Oracle Linux 7.4 due to an OpenSSL dependency—Red Hat's OpenSSL is now too old. The following shows installing the ZFS RPM:
# rpm -Uvh zfs-fuse-0.7.0-23.fc24.x86_64.rpm Preparing... ################################# [100%] Updating / installing... 1:zfs-fuse-0.7.0-23.fc24 ################################# [100%] # cat /etc/redhat-release /etc/oracle-release Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 7.4 (Maipo) Oracle Linux Server release 7.4
The zfs-fuse userspace agent must be executed before any zpools can be manipulated (note a systemd unit is included for this purpose):
# zfs-fuse #
For an easy example, let's re-task a small hard drive containing a Windows 7 installation:
# fdisk -l /dev/sdb Disk /dev/sdb: 160.0 GB, 160000000000 bytes, 312500000 sectors Disk label type: dos Disk identifier: 0x8d206763 Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System /dev/sdb1 * 2048 206847 102400 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT /dev/sdb2 206848 312496127 156144640 7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT
It is usually most convenient to dedicate an entire disk to a zpool, so delete all the existing partitions:
# fdisk /dev/sdb Welcome to fdisk (util-linux 2.23.2). Changes will remain in memory only, until you decide to write them. Be careful before using the write command. Command (m for help): d Partition number (1,2, default 2): 2 Partition 2 is deleted Command (m for help): d Selected partition 1 Partition 1 is deleted Command (m for help): w The partition table has been altered! Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table. Syncing disks.
Now a zpool can be added on the drive (note that creating a pool adds a dataset of the same name, which, as you see here, is automatically mounted):
# zpool create vault /dev/sdb # df | awk 'NR==1||/vault/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on vault 153796557 21 153796536 1% /vault # mount | grep vault vault on /vault type fuse.zfs
Creating a zpool on non-redundant devices is informally known as "hating
your data" and should be contemplated only for demonstration purposes.
on non-redundant media (for example, flash drives)
have obvious data-consistency and compression advantages to
VFAT, and the
copies parameter can be
adjusted for such a dataset to force all blocks to be recorded
on the media multiple times (up to three) to increase recoverability.
Mirrored drives can be created with
zpool create vault
mirror /dev/sdb /dev/sdc. Additional drives can be added as
mirrors to an existing drive with
zpool attach. A
simple RAIDset can be created with
zpool create vault raidz
/dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd.
umount command should (normally) not be used to unmount
ZFS datasets—use the zpool/zfs tools instead (note the
rather than "umount" spelling):
# zfs unmount vault # df | awk 'NR==1||/vault/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on # zfs mount vault # df | awk 'NR==1||/vault/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on vault 153796557 21 153796536 1% /vault
A ZFS dataset can be mounted in a new location by altering the "mountpoint":
# zfs unmount vault # mkdir /root/vault # zfs set mountpoint=/root/vault vault # zfs mount vault # df | awk 'NR==1||/vault/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on vault 153796547 21 153796526 1% /root/vault # zfs unmount vault # zfs set mountpoint=/vault vault # zfs mount vault # df | awk 'NR==1||/vault/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on vault 153796547 21 153796526 1% /vault
The mountpoint is retained and is persistent across reboots.
Creating an additional dataset (and mounting it) is as easy as creating a directory (note this command can take some time):
# zfs create vault/tmpdir # df | awk 'NR==1||/(vault|tmpdir)/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on vault 153796496 800 153795696 1% /vault vault/tmpdir 153795717 21 153795696 1% /vault/tmpdir # cp /etc/yum.conf /vault/tmpdir/ # ls -l /vault/tmpdir/ -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 813 Sep 23 16:47 yum.conf
ZFS supports several types of compression in a dataset. Gzip of varying degrees, zle and lzjb can all be present in a single mountpoint. The checksum algorithm also can be adjusted on the fly:
# zfs get compress vault/tmpdir NAME PROPERTY VALUE SOURCE vault/tmpdir compression off local # zfs get checksum vault/tmpdir NAME PROPERTY VALUE SOURCE vault/tmpdir checksum on default # zfs set compression=gzip vault/tmpdir # zfs set checksum=fletcher2 vault/tmpdir # cp /etc/redhat-release /vault/tmpdir # zfs set compression=zle vault/tmpdir # zfs set checksum=fletcher4 vault/tmpdir # cp /etc/oracle-release /vault/tmpdir # zfs set compression=lzjb vault/tmpdir # zfs set checksum=sha256 vault/tmpdir # cp /etc/os-release /vault/tmpdir
Note that the GZIP compression factor can be adjusted (the default is six, just as in the GNU GZIP utility). This will directly impact the speed and responsiveness of a dataset:
# zfs set compression=gzip-1 vault/tmpdir # cp /etc/profile /vault/tmpdir # zfs set compression=gzip-9 vault/tmpdir # cp /etc/grub2.cfg /vault/tmpdir # ls -l /vault/tmpdir -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 6308 Sep 23 17:06 grub2.cfg -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 32 Sep 23 17:00 oracle-release -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 398 Sep 23 17:00 os-release -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1795 Sep 23 17:05 profile -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 52 Sep 23 16:59 redhat-release -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 813 Sep 23 16:58 yum.conf
Should the dataset no longer be needed, it can be dropped:
# zfs destroy vault/tmpdir # df | awk 'NR==1||/(vault|tmpdir)/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on vault 153796523 800 153795723 1% /vault
You can demonstrate a recovery in ZFS by copying a few files and creating a snapshot:
# cp /etc/passwd /etc/group /etc/shadow /vault # ls -l /vault -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 965 Sep 23 14:41 group -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd ----------. 1 root root 1255 Sep 23 14:41 shadow # zfs snapshot vault@goodver # zfs list -t snapshot NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT vault@goodver 0 - 27K -
Then you can simulate more file manipulations that involve the loss of a critical file:
# rm /vault/shadow rm: remove regular file '/vault/shadow'? y # cp /etc/resolv.conf /etc/nsswitch.conf /etc/services /vault/ # ls -l /vault -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 965 Sep 23 14:41 group -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1760 Sep 23 16:14 nsswitch.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 98 Sep 23 16:14 resolv.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 670311 Sep 23 16:14 services
Normally, snapshots are visible in the .zfs directory of the dataset. However, this functionality does not exist within the zfs-fuse implementation, so you are forced to create a clone to retrieve your lost file:
# zfs clone vault@goodver vault/history # ls -l /vault/history -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 965 Sep 23 14:41 group -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd ----------. 1 root root 1255 Sep 23 14:41 shadow
Note that the clone is not read-only, and you can modify it. The two mountpoints will maintain a common set of blocks, but are otherwise independent:
# cp /etc/fstab /vault/history # ls -l /vault/history -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 541 Sep 23 16:23 fstab -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 965 Sep 23 14:41 group -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd ----------. 1 root root 1255 Sep 23 14:41 shadow
Assuming that you have completed your recovery activity, you can destroy the clone and snapshot. A scrub of the parent dataset to verify its integrity at that point might be wise, and then you can list your zpool history to see evidence of your session:
# zfs destroy vault/history # zfs destroy vault@goodver # zpool scrub vault # zpool status vault pool: vault state: ONLINE scrub: scrub in progress for 0h1m, 30.93% done, 0h3m to go config: NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM vault ONLINE 0 0 0 sdb ONLINE 0 0 0 errors: No known data errors # zpool history vault
For my final words on zfs-fuse, I'm going to list the software version history for zpool and zfs. Note: it is critical that you create your zpools with the lowest ZFS version that you wish to use, which in this case is zpool version 23 and zfs version 4:
# zpool upgrade -v This system is currently running ZFS pool version 23. The following versions are supported: VER DESCRIPTION --- -------------------------------------------------------- 1 Initial ZFS version 2 Ditto blocks (replicated metadata) 3 Hot spares and double parity RAID-Z 4 zpool history 5 Compression using the gzip algorithm 6 bootfs pool property 7 Separate intent log devices 8 Delegated administration 9 refquota and refreservation properties 10 Cache devices 11 Improved scrub performance 12 Snapshot properties 13 snapused property 14 passthrough-x aclinherit 15 user/group space accounting 16 stmf property support 17 Triple-parity RAID-Z 18 Snapshot user holds 19 Log device removal 20 Compression using zle (zero-length encoding) 21 Deduplication 22 Received properties 23 Slim ZIL # zfs upgrade -v The following filesystem versions are supported: VER DESCRIPTION --- -------------------------------------------------------- 1 Initial ZFS filesystem version 2 Enhanced directory entries 3 Case insensitive and File system unique identifier (FUID) 4 userquota, groupquota properties
You can obtain a zfs.ko kernel module from the ZFS on Linux site and load into Linux, which will provide high-performance ZFS with full functionality. In order to install this package, you must remove the FUSE version of ZFS (assuming it was installed as in the previous section):
# rpm -e zfs-fuse Removing files since we removed the last package
After the FUSE removal, you need to install a new yum repository on the target system. ZFS on a Red Hat-derivative likely will require network access to the ZFS repository (standalone installations will be more difficult and are not covered here):
# yum install \ http://download.zfsonlinux.org/epel/zfs-release.el7_4.noarch.rpm ... ==================================================================== Package Repository Size ==================================================================== Installing: zfs-release /zfs-release.el7_4.noarch 2.9 k ==================================================================== Install 1 Package Total size: 2.9 k Installed size: 2.9 k Is this ok [y/d/N]: y ... Installed: zfs-release.noarch 0:1-5.el7_4 Complete!
After configuring the repository, load the GPG key:
# gpg --quiet --with-fingerprint /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-zfsonlinux pub 2048R/F14AB620 2013-03-21 ZFS on Linux Key fingerprint = C93A FFFD 9F3F 7B03 C310 CEB6 A9D5 A1C0 F14A B620 sub 2048R/99685629 2013-03-21
At this point, you're are ready to proceed with a native ZFS installation.
The test system used here, Oracle Linux 7.4, normally can boot from one of two kernels. There is a "Red Hat-Compatible Kernel" and also an "Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel" (UEK). Although the FUSE version is completely functional under both kernels, the native ZFS installer does not work with the UEK (meaning further that Oracle Ksplice is precluded with the standard ZFS installation). If you are running Oracle Linux, you must be booted on the RHCK when manipulating a native ZFS configuration, and this includes the initial install. Do not attempt installation or any other native ZFS activity while running the UEK:
# rpm -qa | grep ^kernel | sort kernel-3.10.0-693.2.2 kernel-devel-3.10.0-693.2.2 kernel-headers-3.10.0-693.2.2 kernel-tools-3.10.0-693.2.2 kernel-tools-libs-3.10.0-693.2.2 kernel-uek-4.1.12-22.214.171.124 kernel-uek-firmware-4.1.12-126.96.36.199
The ZFS installation actually uses yum to compile C source code in
the default configuration (DKMS), then prepares an initrd with
top to monitor this during the install). This installation will
take some time, and there are notes on using a pre-compiled zfs.ko
collection in an alternate installation configuration (kABI). The test
platform used here is Oracle Linux, and the Red Hat-Compatible Kernel
may not be fully interoperable with the precompiled zfs.ko collection
(not tested while preparing this article), so the default DKMS build
was retained. Here's an example installation session:
# yum install kernel-devel zfs ... ==================================================================== Package Repository Size ==================================================================== Installing: zfs zfs 405 k Installing for dependencies: dkms epel 78 k libnvpair1 zfs 29 k libuutil1 zfs 35 k libzfs2 zfs 129 k libzpool2 zfs 587 k spl zfs 29 k spl-dkms zfs 454 k zfs-dkms zfs 4.9 M ==================================================================== Install 1 Package (+8 Dependent packages) Total download size: 6.6 M Installed size: 29 M Is this ok [y/d/N]: y ... - Installing to /lib/modules/3.10.0-693.2.2.el7.x86_64/extra/ spl: splat.ko: zavl: znvpair.ko: zunicode.ko: zcommon.ko: zfs.ko: zpios.ko: icp.ko: Installed: zfs.x86_64 0:0.7.1-1.el7_4 Complete!
After the yum session concludes, you can load the native zfs.ko into the "RHCK" Linux kernel, which will pull in a number of dependent modules:
# modprobe zfs # lsmod | awk 'NR==1||/zfs/' Module Size Used by zfs 3517672 0 zunicode 331170 1 zfs zavl 15236 1 zfs icp 266091 1 zfs zcommon 73440 1 zfs znvpair 93227 2 zfs,zcommon spl 102592 4 icp,zfs,zcommon,znvpair
At this point, the pool created by FUSE can be imported back into the system (note the error):
# /sbin/zpool import vault cannot import 'vault': pool was previously in use from another system. Last accessed at Sun Sep 24 2017 The pool can be imported, use 'zpool import -f' to import the pool. # /sbin/zpool import vault -f
The import will mount the dataset automatically:
# ls -l /vault -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 965 Sep 23 14:41 group -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1760 Sep 23 16:14 nsswitch.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 98 Sep 23 16:14 resolv.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 670311 Sep 23 16:14 services
You can create a snapshot, then delete another critical file:
# /sbin/zfs snapshot vault@goodver # rm /vault/group rm: remove regular file '/vault/group'? y
At this point, you can search the /vault/.zfs directory for the missing
file (note that
.zfs does not appear with
ls -a, but it is present nonetheless):
# ls -la /vault drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 6 Sep 25 17:47 . dr-xr-xr-x. 19 root root 4096 Sep 25 17:17 .. -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1760 Sep 23 16:14 nsswitch.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 98 Sep 23 16:14 resolv.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 670311 Sep 23 16:14 services # ls -l /vault/.zfs dr-xr-xr-x. 2 root root 2 Sep 23 13:54 shares drwxrwxrwx. 2 root root 2 Sep 25 17:47 snapshot # ls -l /vault/.zfs/snapshot/ drwxr-xr-x. 2 root root 7 Sep 24 18:58 goodver # ls -l /vault/.zfs/snapshot/goodver -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 965 Sep 23 14:41 group -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 1760 Sep 23 16:14 nsswitch.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 2269 Sep 23 14:41 passwd -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 98 Sep 23 16:14 resolv.conf -rw-r--r--. 1 root root 670311 Sep 23 16:14 services
Native ZFS implements newer software versions of zpool and zfs—remember, it is critical that you create your zpools with the lowest ZFS version that you ever intend to use, which in this case is zpool version 28, and zfs version 5. The FUSE version is far simpler to install on a fresh Red Hat OS for recovery purposes, so consider carefully before upgrading to the native ZFS versions:
# /sbin/zpool upgrade -v ... 23 Slim ZIL 24 System attributes 25 Improved scrub stats 26 Improved snapshot deletion performance 27 Improved snapshot creation performance 28 Multiple vdev replacements # /sbin/zfs upgrade -v ... 4 userquota, groupquota properties 5 System attributes
Strong words of warning should accompany the use of native ZFS on a Red Hat-derivative.
Kernel upgrades are a cause for concern. If the zfs.ko family of modules are not installed correctly, then no pools can be brought online. For this reason, it is far more imperative to retain known working kernels when upgraded kernels are installed. As I've noted previously, Oracle's UEK is not ZFS-capable when using the default native installation.
OS release upgrades also introduce even more rigorous warnings. Before attempting an upgrade, remove all of the ZFS software. Upon upgrade completion, repeat the ZFS software installation using a yum repository that is specific for the new OS release. The ZFS on Linux site currently lists repositories for Red Hat releases 6, 7.3 and 7.4. It is wise to stay current on patches and releases, and strongly consider upgrading a 7.0 – 7.2 Red Hat-derivative where native ZFS installation is contemplated or desired.
Note also that Solaris ZFS has encryption and Windows SMB capability—these are not functional in the Linux port.
Perhaps someday Oracle will permit the Red Hat family to bundle native ZFS by relaxing the license terms. That will be a very good day.
Definite legal ambiguity remains with ZFS. Although Ubuntu recently announced support for the zfs.ko module for its container subsystem, its legal analysis remains murky. Unsurprisingly, none of the major enterprise Linux distributions have been willing to bundle ZFS as a first-class supported filesystem.
Into this void comes Antergos, a descendant of Arch Linux. The Antergos installer will download and compile ZFS source code into the installation kernel in a manner similar to the previous section. Although the example installation detailed here did not proceed without incident, it did leave a working, mirrored zpool for the root filesystem running the same version release as the native RPM installs.
What Antergos did not do was install the Linux kernel itself to both drives. A separate ext4 partition was configured for /boot on only one drive, because Grub2 does not support ZFS, and there appears to be a current lack of alternatives for booting Linux from a ZFS dataset. I had expected to see an installation similar to MirrorDisk/UX for HP-UX, where the firmware is configured with primary and alternate boot paths, and the OS is intelligent enough to manage identical copies of the boot and root filesystems on multiple drives. What I actually found was the root filesystem mirrored by ZFS, but the kernel in /boot is not, nor is the system bootable if the single ext4 /boot partition fails. A fault-tolerant Antergos installation will require RAID hardware—ZFS is not sufficient.
You can download the Antergos Live ISO and write it as a bootable image to a flash drive with the command:
# dd bs=4M if=antergos-17.9-x86_64.iso of=/dev/sdc
Note that the Antergos Minimal ISO does not support ZFS; it's only in the Live ISO. Internet access is required while the installer is running. The latest packages will be downloaded in the installer session, and very little is pulled from the ISO media.
After booting your system on the live ISO, ensure that you are connected to the internet and activate the installer dialog. Note the warnings of beta software status—whether this refers to ZFS, Btrfs or other Linux RAID configurations is an open question.
Figure 1. Installer Warning
Select your territory or locale, time zone, keyboard layout (I suggest the "euro on 5"), and choose your desktop environment. After I chose GNOME, I also added Firefox and the SSH Service. Finally, a ZFS option is presented—enable it (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Toggle ZFS
As Figure 3 shows, I configured two SATA drives in a zpool mirror. I named the pool "root", which may have caused an error at first boot. Note also the 4k block size toggle—this is a performance-related setting that might be advisable for some configurations and usage patterns.
Figure 3. Configure the zpool
The next pages prompt for the final confirmation before the selected drives are wiped, after which you will be prompted to create a default user.
While the installer is running, you can examine the zpool. After opening a
terminal and running
sudo sh, I found the following
information about the ZFS configuration:
sh-4.4# zpool history History for 'root': 2017-09-30 16:10:28 zpool create -f -m /install root mirror /dev/sda2 /dev/sdb zpool set bootfs=root root zpool set cachefile=/etc/zfs/zpool.cache root zfs create -V 2G root/swap zfs set com.sun:auto-snapshot=false root/swap zfs set sync=always root/swap zpool export -f root zpool import -f -d /dev/disk/by-id -R /install 13754361671922204858
Note that /dev/sda2 has been mirrored to /dev/sdb, showing that Antergos has installed a zpool on an MBR partition. More important, these drives are not configured identically. This is not a true redundant mirror with the ability to boot from either drive.
After fetching and installing the installation packages,
Antergos will build zfs.ko. You can see the calls to gcc if you run
top command in a terminal window.
Figure 4. Building ZFS
My installation session completed normally, and the system rebooted. GRUB presented me with the Antergos boot splash, but after booting, I was thrown into single-user mode:
starting version 234 ERROR: resume: no device specified for hibernation ZFS: Unable to import pool root. cannot import 'root': pool was previously in use from another system. Last accessed by <unknown> (hostid=0) at Tue Oct 3 00:06:34 2017 The pool can be imported, use 'zpool import -f' to import the pool. ERROR: Failed to mount the real root device. Bailing out, you are on your own. Good luck. sh: can't access tty; job control turned off [rootfs ]# zpool import -f root cannot mount '/': directory is not empty [rootfs ]# zfs create root/hold [rootfs ]# cat /dev/vcs > /hold/vcs.txt
The zpool import error above also was encountered when the FUSE pool was
imported by the native driver. I ran the force import (
import -f root), which succeeded, then created a new dataset
and copied the terminal to it, so you can the session here. After a
Ctrl-Alt-Delete, the system booted normally. Naming the zpool
in the installer may have caused this problem.
My test system does not have ECC memory, so I attempted to adjust the undocumented kernel parameter below, followed by a reboot:
echo options zfs zfs_flags=0x10 >> /etc/modprobe.d/zfs.conf
After the test system came up, I checked the flags and found that the ECC memory feature had not been set. I set it manually, then ran a scrub:
# cat /sys/module/zfs/parameters/zfs_flags 0 # echo 0x10 > /sys/module/zfs/parameters/zfs_flags # cat /sys/module/zfs/parameters/zfs_flags 16 # zpool scrub root # zpool status root pool: root state: ONLINE scan: scrub in progress since Sun Oct 1 12:08:50 2017 251M scanned out of 5.19G at 25.1M/s, 0h3m to go 0B repaired, 4.72% done config: NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM root ONLINE 0 0 0 mirror-0 ONLINE 0 0 0 wwn-0x5000cca20cda462e-part2 ONLINE 0 0 0 wwn-0x5000c5001a0d9823 ONLINE 0 0 0 errors: No known data errors
I also found that the kernel and initrd do not incorporate version numbers in their filenames, indicating that an upgrade may overwrite them. It likely will be wise to copy them to alternate locations within boot to ensure that a fallback kernel is available (this would need extra menu entries in GRUB):
# ls -l /boot -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 26729353 Sep 30 17:25 initramfs-linux-fallback.img -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 9225042 Sep 30 17:24 initramfs-linux.img -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 5474064 Sep 21 13:34 vmlinuz-linux
You can continue your investigation into the Antergos zpool mirror by probing
the drives with
sh-4.4# fdisk -l /dev/sda Disk /dev/sda: 232.9 GiB, 250059350016 bytes, 488397168 sectors Disklabel type: dos Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type /dev/sda1 * 2048 1048575 1046528 511M 83 Linux /dev/sda2 1048576 488397167 487348592 232.4G 83 Linux sh-4.4# fdisk -l /dev/sdb Disk /dev/sdb: 149 GiB, 160000000000 bytes, 312500000 sectors Disklabel type: gpt Device Start End Sectors Size Type /dev/sdb1 2048 312481791 312479744 149G Solaris /usr & Apple ZFS /dev/sdb9 312481792 312498175 16384 8M Solaris reserved 1
Antergos appears to be playing fast and loose with the partition types. You also can see that the /boot partition is a non-redundant ext4:
# grep -v ^# /etc/fstab UUID=f9fc... /boot ext4 defaults,relatime,data=ordered 0 0 /dev/zvol/root/swap swap swap defaults 0 0 # df|awk 'NR==1||/boot/' Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Available Use% Mounted on /dev/sda1 498514 70732 418454 15% /boot
Antergos is not configuring a completely fault-tolerant drive mirror, and this is a known problem. The ext4 partition holding the kernel is a single point of failure, apparently required for GRUB. In the event of the loss of /boot, the Live ISO could be used to access the zpool, but restoring full system availability would require much more effort. The same likely will apply to raidz.
ZFS is the filesystem that is "often imitated, never duplicated".
The main contenders for ZFS functionality appear to be Btrfs, Apple APFS and Microsoft's ReFS. After many years of Btrfs development, it still lacks performance and maturity ("we are still refusing to support 'Automatic Defragmentation', 'In-band Deduplication' and higher RAID levels, because the quality of these options is not where it ought to be"). Apple very nearly bundled ZFS into OS X, but backed out and produced APFS instead Microsoft is also trying to create a next-generation filesystem named ReFS, but in doing so it is once again proving Henry Spencer's famous quote, "Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly." ReFS will lack compression, deduplication and copy-on-write snapshots.
All of us have critical data that we do not wish to lose. ZFS is the only filesystem option that is stable, protects our data, is proven to survive in most hostile environments and has a lengthy usage history with well understood strengths and weaknesses. Although many Linux administrators who need its features likely will load ZFS, the installation and maintenance tools have obvious shortcomings that can trap the unwary.
It is time once again to rely on Oracle's largesse and ask them to open the ZFS filesystem fully to Linux for the benefit of the community. This will solve many problems, including Oracle's, and it will engender goodwill in the Linux community that, at least from a filesystem perspective, is sorely lacking.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Linux Journal.
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