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- 1 Introduction
- 2 Installation
- 3 Configuration
- 4 Troubleshooting
- 5 Additional resources
LVM (Logical Volume Management) makes use of the device-mapper feature of the Linux kernel to provide a system of partitions that is independent of the underlying disk's layout. With LVM you can abstract your storage space and have "virtual partitions" which makes it easier to extend and shrink partitions (subject to the filesystem you use allowing this) and add/remove partitions without worrying about whether you have enough contiguous space on a particular disk, without getting caught up in the problems of fdisking a disk that is in use (and wondering whether the kernel is using the old or new partition table) and without having to move other partition out of the way. This is strictly an ease-of-management issue: it does not provide any addition security. However, it sits nicely with the other two technologies we are using.
Note that LVM is not used for the boot partition, because of the bootloader problem.
The basic building blocks of LVM are:
- Physical volume (PV): Partition on hard disk (or even hard disk itself or loopback file) on which you can have volume groups. It has a special header and is divided into physical extents. Think of physical volumes as big building blocks which can be used to build your hard drive.
- Volume group (VG): Group of physical volumes that are used as storage volume (as one disk). They contain logical volumes. Think of volume groups as hard drives.
- Logical volume (LV): A "virtual/logical partition" that resides in a volume group and is composed of physical extents. Think of logical volumes as normal partitions.
- Physical extent (PE): A small part of a disk (usually 4MB) that can be assigned to a logical Volume. Think of physical extents as parts of disks that can be allocated to any partition.
With LVM you can more easily handle your partitions (logical volumes) than normal hard drive partitions. For example, you can:
- Use any number of disks as one big disk(VG)
- Have partitions(LV) stretched over several disks (they can be as big as all of your disk storage together)
- Resize/create/delete partitions(LV) and disks(VG) as you like (it does not depend on position of the logical volumes within volume groups as with normal partitions)
- Resize/create/delete partitions(LV) and disks(VG) online (filesystems on them still need to be resized, but some support online resizing)
- Name your disks(VG) and partitions(LV) as you like
- Create small partitions(LV) and resize them "dynamically" as they get more filled (growing must be still done by hand, but you can do it online with some filesystems)
Physical disks Disk1 (/dev/sda): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |Partition1 50GB (Physical volume) |Partition2 80GB (Physical volume) | |/dev/sda1 |/dev/sda2 | |_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ | Disk2 (/dev/sdb): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |Partition1 120GB (Physical volume) | |/dev/sdb1 | | _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _|
LVM logical volumes Volume Group1 (/dev/MyStorage/ = /dev/sda1 + /dev/sda2 + /dev/sdb1): _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |Logical volume1 15GB |Logical volume2 35GB |Logical volume3 200GB | |/dev/MyStorage/rootvol|/dev/MyStorage/homevol |/dev/MyStorage/mediavol | |_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ |
To sum it all up: With LVM you can use all your storage space as one big disk (volume group) and have more flexibility over your partitions (logical volumes).
Before doing anything we need to load the appropriate module:
# modprobe dm-mod
If you already have Arch Linux installed and you just want to add/try a partition with LVM, jump to partition disks.
Installing Arch Linux on LVM
Prior to running Arch Linux install scripts (/arch/setup) to install Arch Linux, you need to partition your disk with
cfdisk (or any other tool of your liking). Because grub legacy (grub with version less than 1.0) cannot boot from LVM logical volumes you cannot have
/boot in LVM, so you need to create a boot partition. 100MB should be enough. The other solution would be to use lilo or grub with version 1.95 or newer.
Next you need to create a partition for LVM. Its filesystem type should be 'Linux LVM', so use a partition id 0x8e (filesystem type: 8e). You need to create only one LVM partition on each disk you want to use with LVM. Your logical volumes will reside inside these partitions so size them accordingly. If you will use only LVM and no other external partitions, use all the free space on each disk.
Create Physical volumes
Now you need to initialize these partitions so they can be used by LVM. Use
fdisk -l to find out which partitions have filesystem type 'Linux LVM' and create a physical volume on them:
# pvcreate /dev/sda2
/dev/sda2 with all your partitions to create physical volumes on all of them. This command creates a header on each partition so it can be used for LVM.
You can track created physical volumes with:
Create Volume group(s)
Next step is to create a volume group on this physical volume. First you need to create a volume group on one of the new partitions and then add to it all other physical volumes you want to have in it:
# vgcreate VolGroup00 /dev/sda2 # vgextend VolGroup00 /dev/sdb1
Also you can use any other name you like instead of VolGroup00 for a volume group when creating it. You can track how your volume group grows with:
Create Logical Volumes
Now we need to create logical volumes on this volume group. You create a logical volume with the next command by giving the name of a new logical volume, its size, and the volume group it will live on:
# lvcreate -L 10G VolGroup00 -n lvolhome
This will create a logical volume that you can access later with
/dev/VolGroup00/lvolhome. Same as with the volume groups, you can use any name you want for your logical volume when creating it.
To create swap on a logical volume, an additional argument is needed:
# lvcreate -C y -L 10G VolGroup00 -n lvolswap
-C y is used to create a contiguous partition, which means that your swap space does not get partitioned over one or more disks nor over non-contiguous physical extents.
If you want to fill all the free space left on a volume group, use the next command:
# lvcreate -l +100%FREE VolGroup00 -n lvolmedia
You can track created logical volumes with:
Create filesystem and mount logical volumes
Your logical volumes should now be located in
/dev/YourVolumeGroupName. If you cannot find them, use the next commands to bring up the module for creating device nodes and to make volume groups available:
# modprobe dm-mod # vgscan # vgchange -ay
Now you can create filesystems on logical volumes and mount them as normal partitions (if you are installing Arch linux, skip this step. Use the arch installer to pick the LVM partitions that you have created):
# mkfs.ext3 /dev/mapper/VolGroup00-lvolhome # mount /dev/mapper/VolGroup00-lvolhome /home
If you are installing Arch linux, start /arch/setup, go to Prepare Hard Drive directly to step 3 Set Filesystem Mountpoints and read the Important section below before proceeding with installation!
There are just a few things you need to be careful with while using/installing Arch Linux with LVM.
Set Filesystem Mountpoints
- When choosing mountpoints, just select your newly created logical volumes (use:
Do NOT select the actual partitions on which logical volumes were created (do not use:
- Make sure you change
rc.sysinitscript that parses the
USELVMvariable entry will accept either
YES, however it will not accept mixed case.
- Make sure that lvm2 is in the HOOKS section of
/etc/mkinitcpio.confjust before the filesystems so that your kernel will find LVM volumes at boot time.
- If your root filesystem ( "/" ) is put onto a logical volume, make sure regenerate kernel image based on above modified
/etc/mkinitcpio.confby using below command so that bootloader can find your root during booting
cd /boot mkinitcpio -p linux
- Make sure
/boot/grub/menu.lstuses the right volumes for root. It should look something like this: (Install Bootloader)
... (0) Arch Linux title Arch Linux root (hd0,0) kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-lvolroot resume=/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-lvolswap ro initrd /kernel26.img ...
- If you are using SYSLINUX check
... # (0) Arch Linux LABEL arch MENU LABEL Arch Linux LINUX ../vmlinuz-linux APPEND root=/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-1volroot ro INITRD ../initramfs-linux.img ...
- If you are using LILO check
... image=/boot/vmlinuz26 label=arch append="root=/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-lvolroot resume=/dev/mapper/VolGroup00-lvolswap ro" initrd=/boot/kernel26.img ...
Grow logical volume
To grow a logical volume you first need to grow the logical volume and then the filesystem to use the newly created free space. Let us say we have a logical volume of 15GB with ext3 on it and we want to grow it to 20G. We need to do the following steps:
# lvextend -L 20G VolGroup00/lvolhome (or lvresize -L +5G VolGroup00/lvolhome) # resize2fs /dev/VolGroup00/lvolhome
You may use
lvresize instead of
If you want to fill all the free space on a volume group, use the next command:
# lvextend -l +100%FREE VolGroup00/lvolhome
Shrink logical volume
Because your filesystem is probably as big as the logical volume it resides on, you need to shrink the filesystem first and then shrink the logical volume. Depending on your filesystem, you may need to unmount it first. Let us say we have a logical volume of 15GB with ext3 on it and we want to shrink it to 10G. We need to do the following steps:
# resize2fs /dev/VolGroup00/lvolhome 9G # lvreduce -L 10G VolGroup00/lvolhome (or lvresize -L -5G VolGroup00/lvolhome) # resize2fs /dev/VolGroup00/lvolhome
Here we shrunk the filesystem more than needed so that when we shrunk the logical volume we did not accidentally cut off the end of the filesystem. After that we normally grow the filesystem to fill all free space left on logical volume. You may use
lvresize instead of
- Do not reduce the filesystem size to less than the amount of space occupied by data or you risk data loss.
- Not all filesystems support shrinking without loss of data and/or shrinking online.
Remove logical volume
First, find out the name of the logical volume you want to remove. You can get a list of all logical volumes installed on the system with:
Next, look up the mountpoint for your chosen logical volume...:
$ df -h
... and unmount it:
# umount /your_mountpoint
Finally, remove the logical volume:
# lvremove /dev/yourVG/yourLV
Confirm by typing "y" and you are done.
Dont forget, to update /etc/fstab:
# sudo nano /etc/fstab
You can verify the removal of your logical volume by typing "lvs" as root again (see first step of this section).
Add partition to a volume group
To add a partition to your volume group you must first make its type 'Linux LVM' (for example with
cfdisk). Then you need to create a physical volume on it and extend the volume group over it:
# pvcreate /dev/sdb1 # vgextend VolGroup00 /dev/sdb1
Now you have free space in your volume group that can be used by logical volumes in this group.
Remove partition from a volume group
All of the data on that partition needs to be moved to another partition. Fortunately, LVM makes this easy:
# pvmove /dev/sdb1
If you want to have the data on a specific physical volume, specify that as the second argument to
# pvmove /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdf1
Then the physical volume needs to be removed from the volume group:
# vgreduce myVg /dev/sdb1
Or remove all empty physical volumes:
# vgreduce --all vg0
And lastly, if you want to use the partition for something else, and want to avoid LVM thinking that the partition is a physical volume:
# pvremove /dev/sdb1
LVM allows you to take a snapshot of your system in a much more efficient way than a traditional backup. It does this efficiently by using a COW (copy-on-write) policy. The initial snapshot you take simply contains hard-links to the inodes of your actual data. So long as your data remains unchanged, the snapshot merely contains its inode pointers and not the data itself. Whenever you modify a file or directory that the snapshot points to, LVM automatically clones the data, the old copy referenced by the snapshot, and the new copy referenced by your active system. Thus, you can snapshot a system with 35GB of data using just 2GB of free space so long as you modify less than 2GB (on both the original and snapshot).
You create snapshot logical volumes just like normal ones.
# lvcreate --size 100M --snapshot --name snap01 /dev/mapper/vg0-pv
With that volume, you may modify less than 100M of data, before the snapshot volume fills up.
It is important to have the dm-snapshot module listed in the MODULES variable of
/etc/mkinitcpio.conf, otherwise the system will not boot. If you do this on an already installed system, make sure to rebuild the image with
# mkinitcpio -g /boot/kernel26.img
Todo: scripts to automate snapshots of root before updates, to rollback... updating
menu.lst to boot snapshots (separate article?)
snapshots are primarily used to provide a frozen copy of a filesystem to make backups; a backup taking two hours provides a more consistent image of the filesystem than directly backing up the partition.
LVM commands do not work
- Load proper module:
# modprobe dm_mod
- Try preceding commands with lvm like this:
# lvm pvdisplay
Set Filesystem Mountpoints page does not show logical volumes
If you are installing on a system where there is an existing volume group, you may find that even after doing "modprobe dm-mod" you do not see the list of logical volumes.
In this case, you may also need to do:
# vgchange -ay <volgroup>
in order to activate the volume group and make the logical volumes available.
Receiving Input/Output Errors after plugging in a removable device with LVM partitions
~$ sudo vgscan Reading all physical volumes. This may take a while... /dev/backupdrive1/backup: read failed after 0 of 4096 at 319836585984: Input/output error /dev/backupdrive1/backup: read failed after 0 of 4096 at 319836643328: Input/output error /dev/backupdrive1/backup: read failed after 0 of 4096 at 0: Input/output error /dev/backupdrive1/backup: read failed after 0 of 4096 at 4096: Input/output error Found volume group "backupdrive1" using metadata type lvm2 Found volume group "networkdrive" using metadata type lvm2
- Removing an external LVM drive without deactivating the volume group(s) first. Before you disconnect, make sure to:
# vgchange -an <volume group name>
Fix: (assuming you already tried to activate the volume group with vgchange -ay <vg>, and are receiving the Input/output errors
# vgchange -an <volume group name>
- Unplug the external drive and wait a few minutes
# vgscan # vgchange -ay <volume group name>