Linux SAN Multipathing using device mapper

Posted by Parthiban Ponnusamy

There are a lot of SAN multipathing solutions on Linux at the moment. Two of them are discussesed in this blog. The first one is device mapper multipathing that is a failover and load balancing solution with a lot of configuration options. The second one (mdadm multipathing) is just a failover solution with manuel re-anable of a failed path. The advantage of mdadm multiphating is that it is very easy to configure.
Before using a multipathing solution for a production environment on Linux it is also important to determine if the used solution is supportet with the used Hardware. For example HP doesn’t support the Device Mapper Multipathing solution on their servers yet.

Device Mapper Multipathing

Procedure for configuring the system with DM-Multipath:
  1. Install device-mapper-multipath rpm
  2. Edit the multipath.conf configuration file:
    • comment out the default blacklist
    • change any of the existing defaults as needed
  3. Start the multipath daemons
  4. Create the multipath device with the multipath

Install Device Mapper Multipath

# rpm -ivh device-mapper-multipath-0.4.7-8.el5.i386.rpm
warning: device-mapper-multipath-0.4.7-8.el5.i386.rpm: Header V3 DSA signature:
Preparing...                ########################################### [100%]
1:device-mapper-multipath########################################### [100%]

Initial Configuration

Set user_friendly_name. The devices will be created as /dev/mapper/mpath[n]. Uncomment the blacklist.
# vim /etc/multipath.conf

#blacklist {
#        devnode "*"
#}

defaults {
user_friendly_names yes
path_grouping_policy multibus

}
Load the needed modul and the startup service.
# modprobe dm-multipath
# /etc/init.d/multipathd start
# chkconfig multipathd on
Print out the multipathed device.
# multipath -v2
or
# multipath -v3

Configuration

Configure device type in config file.
# cat /sys/block/sda/device/vendor
HP

# cat /sys/block/sda/device/model
HSV200

# vim /etc/multipath.conf
devices {

device {
vendor                  "HP"
product                 "HSV200"
path_grouping_policy    multibus
no_path_retry           "5"
}
}
Configure multipath device in config file.
# cat /var/lib/multipath/bindings

# Format:
# alias wwid
#
mpath0 3600508b400070aac0000900000080000

# vim /etc/multipath.conf

multipaths {

multipath {
wwid                    3600508b400070aac0000900000080000
alias                   mpath0
path_grouping_policy    multibus
path_checker            readsector0
path_selector           "round-robin 0"
failback                "5"
rr_weight               priorities
no_path_retry           "5"
}
}
Set not mutipathed devices on the blacklist. (f.e. local Raid-Devices, Volume Groups)
# vim /etc/multipath.conf

devnode_blacklist {

devnode "^cciss!c[0-9]d[0-9]*"
devnode "^vg*"
}
Show Configured Multipaths.
# dmsetup ls --target=multipath
mpath0  (253, 1)

# multipath -ll

mpath0 (3600508b400070aac0000900000080000) dm-1 HP,HSV200
[size=10G][features=1 queue_if_no_path][hwhandler=0]
\_ round-robin 0 [prio=4][active]
\_ 0:0:0:1 sda 8:0   [active][ready]
\_ 0:0:1:1 sdb 8:16  [active][ready]
\_ 1:0:0:1 sdc 8:32  [active][ready]
\_ 1:0:1:1 sdd 8:48  [active][ready]

Format and mount Device

Fdisk cannot be used with /dev/mapper/[dev_name] devices. Use fdisk on the underlying disks and execute the following command when device-mapper multipath maps the device to create a /dev/mapper/mpath[n] device for the partition.
# fdisk /dev/sda

# kpartx -a /dev/mapper/mpath0

# ls /dev/mapper/*
mpath0  mpath0p1

# mkfs.ext3 /dev/mapper/mpath0p1

# mount /dev/mapper/mpath0p1 /mnt/san
After that /dev/mapper/mpath0p1 is the first partition on the multipathed device.

Multipathing with mdadm on Linux

The md multipathing solution is only a failover solution what means that only one path is used at one time and no load balancing is made.
Start the MD Multipathing Service
# chkconfig mdmpd on

# /etc/init.d/mdmpd start
On the first Node (if it is a shared device)
Make Label on Disk
# fdisk /dev/sda
Disk /dev/sdt: 42.9 GB, 42949672960 bytes
64 heads, 32 sectors/track, 40960 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 2048 * 512 = 1048576 bytes

Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdt1               1       40960    41943024   fd  Linux raid autodetect

# partprobe
Bind multiple paths together
# mdadm --create /dev/md4 --level=multipath --raid-devices=4 /dev/sdq1 /dev/sdr1 /dev/sds1 /dev/sdt1
Get UUID
# mdadm --detail /dev/md4
UUID : b13031b5:64c5868f:1e68b273:cb36724e
Set md configuration in config file
# vim /etc/mdadm.conf

# Multiple Paths to RAC SAN
DEVICE /dev/sd[qrst]1
ARRAY /dev/md4 uuid=b13031b5:64c5868f:1e68b273:cb36724e

# cat /proc/mdstat
On the second Node (Copy the /etc/mdadm.conf from the first node)
# mdadm -As

# cat /proc/mdstat

Restore a failed path

# mdadm /dev/md1 -f /dev/sdt1 -r /dev/sdt1 -a /dev/sdt1

For Further Reading,
Linux, Multipathing, SAN

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I'm Parthiban, An UNIX System Admin by Profession. I'm Experienced in Linux/Unix System Administration and Scripting. I have done lot of work on the infrastructure Mgmt side in Linux, UNIX and Windows system administration, Hardware, Storage and Data center. I'm blogging since 2008.
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