Persistent block device naming
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This article describes how to use persistent names for your block devices. This has been made possible by the introduction of udev and has some advantages over bus-based naming. If your machine has more than one SATA, SCSI or IDE disk controller, the order in which their corresponding device nodes are added is random. This may result in device names like
/dev/sdb switching around randomly on each boot, culminating in an unbootable system, kernel panic, or a block device disappearing. Persistent naming solves these issues. Note that if you are using LVM2, this article is not relevant as LVM takes care of this automatically.
Persistent naming methods
There are four different schemes for persistent naming: by-label, by-uuid, by-id and by-path. The following sections describes what the different persistent naming methods are and how they are used.
Here is a good command for viewing all the information.
$ blkid -o list -c /dev/null
device fs_type label mount point UUID ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ /dev/sda1 ext2 /boot 7f4cef7e-7ee2-489a-b759-d52ba23b692c /dev/sda2 swap (not mounted) a807fff3-e89f-46d0-ab17-9b7ad3efa7b5 /dev/sda3 ext4 / 81917291-fd1a-4ffe-b95f-61c05cfba76f /dev/sda4 ext4 /home c4c23598-19fb-4562-892b-6fb18a09c7d3 /dev/sdb1 ext4 X2 /mnt/X1 4bf265f7-da17-4575-8758-acd40885617b /dev/sdc1 ext4 X1 /mnt/X2 4bf265f7-da17-4575-8758-acd40885617b /dev/sdd1 ext4 Y2 /mnt/Y2 8a976a06-3e56-476f-b73a-ea3cad41d915 /dev/sde1 ext4 Z2 /mnt/Z2 9d35eaae-983f-4eba-abc9-434ecd4da09c /dev/sdf1 ext4 Y1 /mnt/Y1 e2ec37a9-0689-46a8-a07b-0609ce2b7ea2 /dev/sdg1 ext4 Z1 /mnt/Z1 9fa239c1-720f-42e0-8aed-39cf53a743ed /dev/sdj1 ext4 RAPT (not mounted) a9ed7ecb-96ce-40fe-92fa-e07a532ed157 /dev/sdj2 swap <swap> 20826c74-eb6d-46f8-84d8-69b933a4bf3f
Almost every filesystem type can have a label. All your partitions that have one are listed in the
/dev/disk/by-label directory. This directory is created and destroyed dynamically, depending on whether you have partitions with labels attached.
$ ls -lF /dev/disk/by-label
total 0 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 data -> ../../sdb2 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 data2 -> ../../sda2 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 fat -> ../../sda6 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 home -> ../../sda7 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 root -> ../../sda1 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 swap -> ../../sda5 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 windows -> ../../sdb1
The labels of your filesystems can be changed, but note that they have to be unambiguous to prevent any possible conflicts. Following are some methods for changing labels on common filesystems:
# mkswap -L <label> /dev/XXX
swapoff /dev/XXXbefore and
swapon /dev/XXX after.
# e2label /dev/XXX <label>
# btrfs filesystem label /dev/XXX <label>
# reiserfstune -l <label> /dev/XXX
# jfs_tune -L <label> /dev/XXX
# xfs_admin -L <label> /dev/XXX
# dosfslabel /dev/XXX <label> #package # mlabel -i /dev/XXX ::<label> # package; converts label to uppercase
- ntfs (ntfsprogs package)
# ntfslabel /dev/XXX <label>
UUID is a mechanism to give each filesystem a unique identifier. It is designed so that collisions are unlikely. All GNU/Linux filesystems (including swap) support UUID. FAT and NTFS filesystems do not support UUID, but are still listed in
/dev/disk/by-uuid with a unique identifier:
$ ls -lF /dev/disk/by-uuid/
total 0 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 2d781b26-0285-421a-b9d0-d4a0d3b55680 -> ../../sda1 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 31f8eb0d-612b-4805-835e-0e6d8b8c5591 -> ../../sda7 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 3FC2-3DDB -> ../../sda6 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 5090093f-e023-4a93-b2b6-8a9568dd23dc -> ../../sda2 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 912c7844-5430-4eea-b55c-e23f8959a8ee -> ../../sda5 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 B0DC1977DC193954 -> ../../sdb1 lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Oct 16 10:27 bae98338-ec29-4beb-aacf-107e44599b2e -> ../../sdb2
As you can see, the FAT and NTFS partitions (fat and windows labels above) have shorter names, but are still listed. The advantage about using the UUID method is that it is less likely that you have name collisions than with labels. The disadvantage is that UUIDs lose any readability advantage.
By-id and by-path
by-id creates a unique name depending on the hardware serial number. by-path creates a unique name depending on the shortest physical path (according to sysfs). Both contain strings to indicate which subsystem they belong to (i.e. "-ide-", for 'by-path', and "ata-" for 'by-id') and thus are not suitable for solving the problems mentioned in the beginning of this article. They will not be discussed any further here.
Individual device names
You can also create individual device names: udev#Setting static device names (for iscsi).
Using persistent naming
There are various applications that can be configured using persistent naming. Following are some examples of how to configure them.
To enable persistent naming in
/etc/fstab replace the device kernel name in the first column with the persistent name path as follows:
/dev/disk/by-label/home ... /dev/disk/by-uuid/31f8eb0d-612b-4805-835e-0e6d8b8c5591 ...
or directly specify the persistent name type using a prefix:
LABEL=home ... UUID=1f8eb0d-612b-4805-835e-0e6d8b8c5591 ...
To use persistent names in your boot manager, the following prerequisites must be met:
- You are using a mkinitcpio initial RAM disk image
- You have udev enabled in
- When your initramfs image was generated, version 101-3 or greater of klibc-udev was installed (persistent naming is broken in any earlier version). If you are updating klibc-udev from an earlier version and want to use persistent naming, regenerate your initramfs image before you reboot.
In the above example,
/dev/sda1 is the root partition. In the GRUB
menu.lst file, the kernel line looks like this:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/sda1 ro quiet
Depending on which naming scheme you would prefer, change it to one of the following:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/disk/by-label/root ro quiet
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/disk/by-uuid/2d781b26-0285-421a-b9d0-d4a0d3b55680 ro quiet
If you are using LILO, then do not try this with the
root=... configuration option; it will not work. Use
addappend="root=..." instead. Read the LILO man page for more information on append and addappend.
There is an alternative way to use the label embedded in the filesystem. For example if (as above) the filesystem in
/dev/sda1 is labeled "root", you would give this line to GRUB:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=LABEL=root ro quiet