How to Make Gnarly Big Linux Filesystems

At least in RHEL 4, the fdisk command does not support the creation of filesystems larger than 2TB. In order to get around it, you have to use the parted command. I found the basic info here, but this is the long and short of how to cut off a big ol’ slice of disk using parted:

Run parted

# /sbin/parted

It’s interactive, so the following commands are issued within the utility.

1) Make the disk label

(parted) mklabel gpt

2) Create the partition

(parted) mkpart primary 0 -1

3) Verify

(parted) print

Disk geometry for /dev/sda: 0.000-38146.972 megabytes
Disk label type: msdos
Minor    Start       End     Type      Filesystem  Flags
1          0.031    101.975  primary   ext3        boot
2        101.975  38146.530  primary               lvm

4) Exit the GNU Parted command shell

(parted) quit

5) Finally, make the filesystem:

# mkfs.ext3 -m0 -F /dev/sdb1

6)Finally, you don’t want to wait for that big filesystem to fsck from time to time, so make sure it does not get checked unless you run the command yourself:

# tune2fs -c0 -i0 /dev/sdb1

That should just about do it. Remember that only RHEL 4 and higher can support filesystems larger than 2TB. If I remember correctly RHEL 3 can go up to 2TB, RHEL4 can handle 8TB, and RHEL 5 can make a whopping 16TB chunk of disk. Have fun!

Controlling Services With chkconfig

Many system 5 UNIX variants use scripts in the /etc/rcN.d/ directories to control which services should be started in the various runlevels. If, for instance, you wanted the secure shell daemon to run in runlevel 4, you would put a script named something like “S55sshd” in “/etc/rc4.d”. This script would usually accept the “start” “stop” and “restart” arguments, as well as the commands to perform these functions. When the system came up, it would execute “/etc/rc4.d/S55sshd start” when it transitioned into runlevel 4. On the way down, it would execute “/etc/rc4.d/S55sshd stop” as the system passed from runlevel 4 to runlevel 3. If you had made some changes to the sshd configuration file, and wanted to restart the service, you could manually execute “/etc/rc3.d/sshd restart” to kill and then restart the daemon.

Since this model involved having multiple copies of the same script in many different directories, Linux and others have adopted the standard of putting all service control scripts in “/etc/init.d/”, and using symbolic links to these scripts in the various “/etc/rcN.d/” directories. This allowed for the SGI IRIX innovation of the “chkconfig” command, which is command line tool that manages the symbolic links for you.

How to use “chkconfig” in Red Hat Enterprise Linux:

First, all your service control scripts need to be in the “/etc/init.d/” directory. They should reflect the name of the service they control. In our example, the file is named /etc/init.d/sshd”.

Secondly, they have a tag at the head of the script that looks something like this so that “chkconfig” understands that it can controll it:

# Basic support for IRIX style chkconfig
# chkconfig: 2345 55 25
# description: Manages the services you are controlling with the chkconfig command

The first set of numbers “2345” is are the default runlevels for the service, and “55” and “25” represent the name of the “S” and “K” symbolic links, and the order in which the service will be started and stopped in the respective runlevel. You will need to change these last two numbers, making them unique.

Once these requirements are met, using the command is fairly simple. When we go into /etc/rc3.d, we see a file called “S55sshd”.

[root@calvin rc2.d]# cd /etc/rc3.d
[root@calvin rc2.d]# ls -al S55sshd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 14 Nov 15 15:10 S55sshd -> ../init.d/sshd

We see this file is a symbolic link to “../init.d/sshd”. Let’s run the “chkconfig” command to turn sshd off.

[root@calvin init.d]# /sbin/chkconfig sshd off
[root@calvin init.d]# /sbin/chkconfig --list sshd
sshd 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:off 4:off 5:off 6:off

chkconfig --list sshd confirms that sshd has been disabled in all runlevels, and the symbolic link has been removed from all “/etc/rcN.d/” directories.

Let’s turn sshd back on:

[root@calvin init.d]# /sbin/chkconfig sshd on
[root@calvin rc2.d]# /sbin/chkconfig --list sshd
sshd 0:off 1:off 2:on 3:on 4:on 5:on 6:off

chkconfig --list sshd confirms that sshd has now been enabled in runlevels 2, 3, 4 and 5, and we see s symbolic link to “/etc/init.d/sshd” named “S55sshd” in “/etc/rc2.d/”, “/etc/rc3.d/”, “/etc/rc4.d/” and “/etc/rc5.d/”.

Let’s imagine now that we only want sshd to be enabled in runlevel 5. We run the following command to accomplish this:

[root@calvin rc2.d]# /sbin/chkconfig sshd --level 234 off
cd /etc/[root@calvin rc2.d]# /sbin/chkconfig --list sshd
sshd 0:off 1:off 2:off 3:off 4:off 5:on 6:off

chkconfig --list sshd confirms that sshd has been disabled in all runlevels except 5, and the “S55sshd” has been removed from “/etc/rc2.d/”, “/etc/rc3.d/” and “/etc/rc4.d/”.

There is, of course, more to it, but this should get you well on your way to happily managing your system services with “chkconfig”.

REL 3 Direct Connect to EonStor A12F-G2221

This summer we have been migrating a bunch of data to our shiny new InfoTrend EonStor A12F-G2221. With 1G battery backed cache, it’s a screaming box of disk, and it looks cool to boot. There is a gotcha though if you want to direct connect it to QLogic QLA2340 card on a REL 3 server. Here is what you have to do.

First, get the new driver from QLogic, or install the one that came on CD with the HBA. The one that Red Hat packages is always old and useless, and one that QLogic provides is better anyways because the installer rebuilds the rdimage for you. Once you get the package just “cd” into the “qlafc-linux-X.XX.XX-X-install” and run “qlinstall”. This will install it all for you, so let it do it’s thing, and reboot the system when it’s done.

Now, go into the management console for your EonStor A12F-G2221. For the most part, the system defaults should work, but InfoTrend sets the default Fibre Connection to “Loop Only”. This is fine if you are dealing with a san, but since we are trying to do a direct connect, we have to change it to either “Auto” or “Direct Connect”. I suggest “Auto”, since that way you can have the other port connected to a loop if you want.


That should be all you have to do. You will have to reboot the controller for the change to take effect, so make sure you do this during a scheduled downtime if you have the disk in production.

Solaris X86 Compatible RAID Controller

Every time I have to spec a solution using Solaris, I always have to answer a bunch of questions in meetings about why Sun is so costly compared to Dell servers. Usually the reason for the higher price is not the servers (especially with X86 sun), but rather the storage. Since Sun does not offer a system with a RAID card, you always have to purchase a high-end disk enclosure that is capable of performing the RAID functions unless you want the performance degradation that comes with software RAID.

The good news is that there is finally a really nice PCI RAID card that works with Solaris! The bad news is that it only works with X86 Solaris, and Sun only goes so far as to say that it is”reported to work“.

Anyhow, no matter. Here is the deal:

According to Sun Big Admin, the Mylex Accelaraid 150 is reported to work with Solaris 9 04/04 to Solaris 10 03/05 (read Solaris 9 and 10 X86). The firmware and bios on the card needs to be: BIOS Version 4.10-50; Firmware 4.08-37.

Pity that there still does not seem to be a RAID controller that works with SPARC hardware. If someone would come up with that, it would make my life as a Solaris administrator a whole lot easier.