However, Ubuntu root on ZFS with MAAS is experimental! We encourage users to try this out and report back any issues, but it is not a supported scenario.
ZFS is known for an amazing list of features:
- copy-on-write cloning
- continuous integrity checking
- automatic repair
- efficient data compression
The following article takes a look at how using ZFS for the root filesystem of an Ubuntu system can take advantage of these features. Again, this is experimental and not supported, but we are encourage users to try this out and let us know if any issues occur.
As with other MAAS settings, configuring a ZFS root disk is as easy as choosing ZFS as the partition type and setting / as the mount point:
Once applied, the resulting disk setup should then look like the following with a EFI boot partition and the ZFS root partition:
MBR Partition Record
To use ZFS root MAAS requires the disk use a GPT partition record. This type of partition type is only enabled if a disk is larger than 3TB or if the system is booting via EFI.
If a user attempts to install using a ZFS root with MBR they will receive an error message:
zfsroot requires bootdisk with GPT partition table found "msdos" on disk id="sda"
After the deployment, a user can verify the ZFS root filesystem using lsblk, parted, as well as using ZFS commands.
$ lsblk NAME MAJ:MIN RM SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT sda 8:0 0 232.9G 0 disk ├─sda1 8:1 0 476M 0 part /boot/efi └─sda2 8:2 0 232.4G 0 part $ sudo parted /dev/sda print Model: ATA Samsung SSD 850 (scsi) Disk /dev/sda: 250GB Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B Partition Table: gpt Disk Flags: Number Start End Size File system Name Flags 1 1049kB 2097kB 1049kB bios_grub 2 2097kB 501MB 499MB fat32 3 501MB 250GB 250GB zfs $ zfs list NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool 6.18G 219G 176K / rpool/ROOT 6.18G 219G 176K none rpool/ROOT/zfsroot 6.18G 219G 6.18G / $ zpool list NAME SIZE ALLOC FREE EXPANDSZ FRAG CAP DEDUP HEALTH ALTROOT rpool 232G 6.19G 226G - - 2% 1.00x ONLINE -
The lsblk output matches the requested MAAS storage configuration. Parted output shows how the file system is using ZFS and the zfs and zpool commands show the pool used by the ZFS root.
ZFS Snapshots & Rollback
One of the key features of ZFS is the ability to provide snapshots. The following demonstrates how to take a snapshot and rollback the entire or part of the filesystem based on that snapshot.
To manually take a snapshot, provide the path to the ZFS filesystem and a snapshot name in the format filesystem@snapshot_name. Destroying the snapshot is similarly done with the name of the snapshot. Note that ZFS datasets cannot be destroyed if a snapshot of the dataset exists.
$ sudo zfs snapshot rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@initial $ zfs list -t snapshot NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@initial 3.01M - 6.18G - $ sudo zfs destroy rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@initial
To do a full disk rollback, first requires that the root file system get unmounted as a mounted filesystem cannot be completely restored and will not be completely successful. The actual mechanism in ZFS will attempt to unmount a mounted filesystem during rollback.
The easiest way is to use MAAS to boot into rescue mode. This is done by selecting Rescue mode from the Take action menu of the node:
Once in rescue mode, all that is required is to install the ZFS utilities and rollback to the specified snapshot. The system then needs to exit rescue mode via MAAS and the user can boot back into the restored system.
$ sudo apt update $ sudo apt install --yes zfsutils-linux $ sudo zfs list -t snapshot NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@initial 3.01M - 6.18G - $ sudo zfs rollback rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@initial
Even with the mounted root filesystem some fixes are possible. Snapshots are stored on the filesystem under the /.zfs directory. A user can find the files under the appropriate snapshot and directory and attempt to restore them.
Take for example someone deleting /srv, the admin could have gone under /.zfs/snapshot/initial to find the missing data.
$ ls /srv/testimportant $ sudo rm -rf /srv $ ls /srv/test ls: cannot access '/srv/test': No such file or directory $ ls /.zfs/snapshot/initial/srv/test/ important
Snapshots are cheap, worth having, and zfs-auto-snapshot. makes setting consistent snapshots easily. zfs-auto-snapshot is available in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and later releases and works with zfs-linux and zfs-fuse to create periodic ZFS snapshots at the following intervals:
- every 15mins and keeps 4
- hourly and keeps 24
- daily and keeps 31
- weekly and keeps 8
- monthly and keeps 12
An hour after installing, a user will see a set of new snapshots.
$ zfs list -t snapshot NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2217 0B - 176K - rpool@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2230 0B - 176K - rpool@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 0B - 176K - rpool@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2300 0B - 176K - rpool@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2315 0B - 176K - rpool@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2317 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2217 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2230 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2300 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2315 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2317 0B - 176K - rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2217 4.53M - 6.18G - rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2230 4.30M - 6.18G - rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 4.17M - 6.18G - rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2300 4.70M - 6.18G - rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2315 4.04M - 6.18G - rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2317 396K - 6.18G -
Once setup, zfs-auto-snapshot will log messages to syslog when a snapshot is taken.
Oct 1 22:17:01 nexus zfs-auto-snap: @zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2217, 1 created, 0 destroyed, 0 warnings. Oct 1 22:30:01 nexus CRON: (root) CMD (which zfs-auto-snapshot > /dev/null || exit 0 ; zfs-auto-snapshot --quiet --syslog --label=frequent --keep=4 //) Oct 1 22:30:01 nexus zfs-auto-snap: @zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2230, 1 created, 0 destroyed, 0 warnings. Oct 1 22:45:01 nexus CRON: (root) CMD (which zfs-auto-snapshot > /dev/null || exit 0 ; zfs-auto-snapshot --quiet --syslog --label=frequent --keep=4 //) Oct 1 22:45:01 nexus zfs-auto-snap: @zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245, 1 created, 0 destroyed, 0 warnings. Oct 1 23:00:01 nexus CRON: (root) CMD (which zfs-auto-snapshot > /dev/null || exit 0 ; zfs-auto-snapshot --quiet --syslog --label=frequent --keep=4 //) Oct 1 23:00:01 nexus zfs-auto-snap: @zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2300, 1 created, 1 destroyed, 0 warnings. Oct 1 23:15:01 nexus CRON: (root) CMD (which zfs-auto-snapshot > /dev/null || exit 0 ; zfs-auto-snapshot --quiet --syslog --label=frequent --keep=4 //) Oct 1 23:15:01 nexus zfs-auto-snap: @zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2315, 1 created, 1 destroyed, 0 warnings. Oct 1 23:17:01 nexus zfs-auto-snap: @zfs-auto-snap_hourly-2018-10-01-2317, 1 created, 0 destroyed, 0 warnings.
Backup ZFS Snapshots
Of course, taking a snapshot is great for rollbacks due to mistakes, but snapshots are not to be considered a backup. As a result, keeping snapshots on a different system or location is essential if the data is considered critical.
Snapshots can be sent to a file or received from a file to allow for simple backup and restore.
sudo zfs send rpool/nexus/frequent@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 \ > /tmp/frequent-2018-10-01-2245.bak sudo zfs recv rpool/nexus/frequent@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 \ < /tmp/frequent-2018-10-01-2245.bak
Another option is to send the snapshots to a remote system already setup with ZFS. First, on the remote system that will store our backup of a ZFS snapshot create a pool to store the snapshots.
$ sudo zfs create rpool/nexus $ zfs list NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool 6.18G 219G 176K / rpool/ROOT 6.18G 219G 176K none rpool/ROOT/zfsroot 6.18G 219G 6.18G / rpool/nexus 176K 219G 176K /nexus
Assuming the user already has SSH keys in place to allow for passwordless login then it is time to send the ZFS snapshot. This is done using the send and recv ZFS sub-commands to send a snapshot from the local system and have it received by the remote system.
sudo zfs send rpool/ROOT/zfsroot@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 \ | ssh falcon "sudo zfs recv rpool/nexus/frequent"
On the remote system, verify the snapshot was received by looking at the pool and the snapshot listing.
$ zfs list NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool 12.4G 212G 176K / rpool/ROOT 6.18G 212G 176K none rpool/ROOT/zfsroot 6.18G 212G 6.18G / rpool/nexus 6.18G 212G 184K /nexus rpool/nexus/frequent 6.18G 212G 6.18G /nexus/frequent $ zfs list -t snapshot NAME USED AVAIL REFER MOUNTPOINT rpool/nexus/frequent@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 232K - 6.18G -
Finally, to pull a snapshot back to the local system use the same send and recv ZFS sub-commands in the opposite direction.
sudo zfs send rpool/nexus/frequent@zfs-auto-snap_frequent-2018-10-01-2245 \ | ssh nexus "sudo zfs recv rpool/ROOT/zfsroot
As mentioned at the beginning ZFS has the ability to silently correct data errors. This is accomplished through the scrub action. A scrub will go through every block of the pool and compare it against the known checksum for that block. The consequence of which is that a scrub can impact performance of the disk while run.
By default zfsutils-linux will come with a crontab entry that will scrub the disks.
$ cat /etc/cron.d/zfsutils-linux PATH=/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin # Scrub the second Sunday of every month. 24 0 8-14 * * root [ $(date +\%w) -eq 0 ] && [ -x /usr/lib/zfs-linux/scrub ] && /usr/lib/zfs-linux/scrub
A user can setup a second crontab to run more periodically if necessary or a scrub can also get executed manually.
$ sudo zpool scrub rpool $ sudo zpool status rpool pool: rpool state: ONLINE scan: scrub repaired 0B in 0h0m with 0 errors on Thu Oct 11 16:55:14 2018 config: NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM rpool ONLINE 0 0 0 ata-Samsung_SSD_850_EVO_250GB_S2R5NX0HB20702T-part3 ONLINE 0 0 0 errors: No known data errors
The most reason versions of ZFS utilize dataset feature flags to specify a property for changes to on-disk formats. The original method was a single version number, but given OpenZFS is developed distributedly rather than by a single company, utilizing feature flags make for easier determination of features supported versus the single number.
If a user attempts to enable a feature that the dataset version does not support a message requesting an upgrade will appear. Upgrading a dataset is as simple as running upgrade on that specific dataset. However, do note that an upgrade is a one-way path and may make the dataset unavailable to tools which do not support a particular feature.
$ sudo zfs set compression=lz4 rpool cannot set property for 'rpool': pool and or dataset must be upgraded to set this property or value $ sudo zpool upgrade rpool This system supports ZFS pool feature flags. Successfully upgraded 'rpool' from version 28 to feature flags. Enabled the following features on 'rpool': async_destroy empty_bpobj lz4_compress multi_vdev_crash_dump spacemap_histogram enabled_txg hole_birth extensible_dataset embedded_data bookmarks filesystem_limits large_blocks large_dnode sha512 skein edonr userobj_accounting
The first of two ways to save disk space is to enable compression. With ZFS compression is done transparent to the user, as ZFS is compressing and decompressing data on the fly. Files that are not already compressed will take advantage of this, while already compressed data will not. The overall cost to enabling compression however is minimal due to modern processors handling the work easily.
The LZ4 algorithm is generally considered the best starting point if a user is uncertain of what type of compression to enable.
$ sudo zfs set compression=lz4 rpool $ zfs get compression rpool NAME PROPERTY VALUE SOURCE rpool compression lz4 local
A user can judge the overall efficiency of enabling compression by viewing the compression ratio on the pool. Do note that enabling compression on a dataset is not retroactive. As such the compression will only occur on new and modified data after enabling it.
$ sudo zfs get compressratio rpool NAME PROPERTY VALUE SOURCE rpool compressratio 1.00x -
A second mechanism of saving disk space is to enable deduplication. ZFS utilizes block level deduplication, rather than file or byte level, as it is a nice trade off in terms of speed and storage.
A user must be extremely careful when enabling deduplication and understand the risks associated with it. To achieve performance to justify deduplication the system is required to have sufficient memory to store deduplicate data. In the event that not enough memory exists the duplication data gets written to disk reducing performance greatly. Turning deduplication off will not solve any scenarios where the duplication table is already getting written to disk.
A general heuristic for system memory is for every TB of pool data the system should have 20GB of system memory. The large number is due to the need to account for the needs of memory for the operating system, workload, other metadata, and to account for the deduplication table to minimize the possibility of writing to disk.
In order to first test if deduplication would have any effect a user can test it by created a test pool, enable deduplication, and copy test data over. A second option is to use the zdb -S command to simulate deduplication and get an estimated measure of the effect.
$ sudo zfs set dedup=on rpool $ sudo zfs get dedup rpool NAME PROPERTY VALUE SOURCE rpool dedup on local
Finally, if users have additional disks they can take advantage of the aforementioned ZFS features using additional pools.
In this example, two new disks /dev/sdb and /dev/sdc were added to the system.
$ lsblk NAME MAJ:MIN RM SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT sda 8:0 0 232.9G 0 disk ├─sda1 8:1 0 1M 0 part ├─sda2 8:2 0 476M 0 part /boot/efi └─sda3 8:3 0 232.4G 0 part sdb 8:16 1 14.6G 0 disk sdc 8:32 1 14.6G 0 disk
To create a new pool, a user runs using the create command and pointing at the additional disks.
$ sudo zpool create tank sdb sdc $ zpool list NAME SIZE ALLOC FREE EXPANDSZ FRAG CAP DEDUP HEALTH ALTROOT rpool 232G 7.97G 224G - 0% 3% 1.00x ONLINE - tank 29G 93K 29.0G - 0% 0% 1.00x ONLINE - $ zpool status -v tank pool: tank state: ONLINE scan: none requested config: NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM tank ONLINE 0 0 0 sdb ONLINE 0 0 0 sdc ONLINE 0 0 0 errors: No known data errors
MAAS enables users to easily deploy ZFS as their root filesystem and explore advanced filesystem features. Consider taking root ZFS for a spin with MAAS!
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