Posts Tagged ‘snapshots’

Attach multiple Oracle ASM snapshots to the same host

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

The goal – connecting multiple Oracle ASM snapshots (same source LUNs, of course) to the same machine. The next process will demonstrate how to do it.

Problem: ASM disks use a disk label called ASMLib to maintain access even when the logical disk path might change (like adding a LUN with a lower ID and rebooting the server). This solves a major problem which was experienced with RAW devices, when order changed, and the ‘wrong’ disks took the place of others. ASM labels are a vital part in managing ASM disks and ASM DiskGroups. Also – the ASM DiskGroup name should be unique. You cannot have multiple DiskGroups with the same name.

Limitations – you cannot connect the snapshot LUNs to the same server which has access to the source LUNs.


  1. Take a snapshot of the source LUN. If the ASM DiskGroup spans across several LUNs, you must create a consistency group (each storage device has its own lingo for the task).
  2. Map the snapshots to the target server (EMC – prepare EMC Snapshot Mount Points (SMP) in advance. Other storage devices – depending)
  3. Perform partprobe on all target servers.
  4. Run ‘service oracleasm scandisks‘ to scan for the new ASM disk labels. We will need to change them now, so that the additional snapshot will not use duplicate ASM labels.
  5. For each of the new ASM disks, run ‘service oracleasm force-renamedisk SRC_NAME TGT_NAME‘. You will want to rename the source name (SRC_NAME) to a unique target name, with some correlation to the snapshot name/purpose. This is the reasonable way of making some sense of a possibly very messy setup.
  6. As the Oracle user, with the correct PATH variables ($ORACLE_HOME should point to the CRS_HOME) and the right ORACLE_SID (for example – +ASM1), run: ‘renamedg phase=both dgname=SRC_DG_NAME newdgname=NEW_DG_NAME verbose=true‘. The value ‘SRC_DG_NAME’ represents the original (on the source) DiskGroup name, and the NEW_DG_NAME represents the new name. Much like when renaming the disks – the name should have some relationship with either the snapshot name, so you can find your hands and legs in this mess (again – imagine having six snapshots, each of a DiskGroup with four LUNs. Now – this is a mess).
  7. You can now mount the DiskGroup (named NEW_DG_NAME in my example) on both nodes


  1. Oracle GI is up and running all through this process
  2. I tested it with Oracle Other versions of 11.2.0.x might work, I have no clue about previous 11.1.x versions, or any earlier versions.
  3. It was tested on Linux. My primary work platform. It was, to be exact, on RHEL 6.4, but it should work just the same on any RHEL-like platform. I believe it will work on other Linux platforms. I have no clue about running it on any other Unix/Windows platform.
  4. The DiskGroup should not be mounted (no reason for it to be mounted right on discovery). Do not manually mount it prior to performing this procedure.

Good luck, and post a comment if you find this explanation either unclear, or if you encounter any problem.




Citrix XenServer 5.0 cannot cooperate with NetApp SnapMirror

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

It has been a long while, I know. I was busy with life, work and everything around it. Not much worth mentioning.

This, however, is something else.

I have discovered an issue with Citrix XenServer 5.0 (probably the case with 5.5, but I have other issues with that release) using NetApp through NetApp API SR – Any non XenServer-generated snapshot will be deleted as soon as any snapshot-related action would be performed on that volume. Meaning that if I had manually created a snapshot called “1111” (short and easy to recognize, especially with all these UUID-based volumes, LUNs and snapshot names XenServer uses…), the next time anyone would create a snapshot of a machine which has a disk (VDI) on this specific volume, the snapshot, my snapshot, “1111” will be removed under that specific volume. The message seen in /var/log/SMlog would look like this:

Removing unused snap (1111)

While under normal operation, this does not matter much, as non-XenServer snapshots have little value, when using NetApp SnapMirror technology, the mechanism works a bit differently.

It appears that the SnapMirror system takes snapshots with predefined names (non-XenServer UUID type, luckily for us all). These snapshots include the entire changes performed since the last SnapMirror snapshots, and are used for replication. Unfortunately, XenServer deletes them. No SnapMirror snapshots, well, this is quite obvious, is it not? No SnapMirror…

We did not detect this problem immediately, and I should take the blame for that. I had to define a set of simple trial and error tests, as described above, instead of battling with a system I did not quite follow at that time – NetApp SnapMirror. Now I do, however, and I have this wonderful insight which can make your personal life, if you had issues with SnapMirror and XenServer, and did not know how to make it work, better. This solution cannot be an official one, due to its nature, which you will understand shortly. This is a personal patch for your pleasure, based on the hard fact that SnapMirror uses a predefined name for its snapshots. This name, in my case, is the name of the DR storage device. You must figure out what name is being used as part of the snapshot naming convention on your own site. Search for my ‘storagedr’ phrase, and replace it with yours.

This is the diff file for /opt/xensource/sm/ . Of course – back up your original file. Also – this is not an official patch. It was tested to function correctly on XenServer 5.0, and it will not work on XenServer 5.5 (since is different). Last warning – it might break on the next update or upgrade you have for your XenServer environment, and if that happens, you better monitor your SnapMirror status closely then.

<                     util.SMlog("Removing unused snap (%s)" % val)
<                     out = netapplib.fvol_snapdelete_wrapper(, val, volname)
<                     if not na_test_result(out):
 		    if 'storagedr' not in val:
>                     	util.SMlog("Removing unused snap (%s)" % val)
>                     	out = netapplib.fvol_snapdelete_wrapper(, val, volname)
>                     	if not na_test_result(out):
>                         	pass

Hope it helps!

MySQL permissions for LVM Snapshots

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

aking LVM snapshots as a mean of backing up MySQL is rather simple, as can be described here. However, if you are into security, you would strive to grant minimal permissions for the action to the MySQL user. Per MySQL Documentation, the required privileges is “RELOAD”. That should be enough, granted on *.*, of course.

Quick provisioning of virtual machines

Friday, February 1st, 2008

When one wants to achieve fast provisioning of virtual machines, some solutions might come into account. The one I prefer uses Linux LVM snapshot capabilities to duplicate one working machine into few.

This can happen, of course, only if the host running VMware-Server is Linux.

LVM snapshots have one vast disadvantage – performance. When a block on the source of the snapshot is being changed for the first time, the original block is being replicated to each and every snapshot COOW space. It means that a creation of a 1GB file on a volume having ten snapshots means a total copy of 10GB of data across your disks. You cannot ignore this performance impact.

LVM2 has support for read/write snapshots. I have come up with a nice way of utilizing this capability to my benefit. An R/W snapshot which is being changed does not replicate its changes to any other snapshot. All changes are considered local to this snapshot, and are being maintained only in its COOW space. So adding a 1GB file to a snapshot has zero impact on the rest of the snapshots or volumes.

The idea is quite simple, and it works like this:

1. Create adequate logical volume with a given size (I used 9GB for my own purposes). The name of the LV in my case will be /dev/VGVM3/centos-base

2. Mount this LV on a directory, and create a VM inside it. In my case, it’s in /vmware/centos-base

3. Install the VM as the baseline for all your future VMs. If you might not want Apache on some of them, don’t install it on the baseline.

4. Install vmware-tools on the baseline.

5. Disable the service “kudzu”

6. Update as required

7. In my case I always use DHCP. You can set it to obtain its IP once from a given location, or whatever you feel like.

8. Shut down the VM.

9. In the VM’s .vmx file add a line like this:

uuid.action = “create”

I have added below (expand to read) two scripts which will create the snapshot, mount it and register it, including new MAC and UUID.

Press below for the scripts I have used to create and destroy VMs

# This script will replicate vms from a given (predefined) source to a new system
# Written by Ez-Aton,
# Arguments: name

test_can_do () {
# To be able to snapshot, we need a set of things to happen
if [ -d $DIR/$TARGET ] ; then
echo “Directory already exists. You don’t want to do it…”
exit 1
if [ -f $VG/$TARGET ] ; then
echo “Target snapshot exists”
exit 1
if [ `vmrun list | grep -c $DIR/$SRC/$SRC.vmx` -gt “0” ] ; then
echo “Source VM is still running. Shut it down before proceeding”
exit 1
if [ `vmware-cmd -l | grep -c $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx` -ne “0” ] ; then
echo “VM already registered. Unregister first”
exit 1

do_snapshot () {
# Take the snapshot
lvcreate -s -n $TARGET -L $SNAPSIZE $VG/$SRC
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Failed to create snapshot”
exit 1

mount_snapshot () {
# This function creates the required directories and mounts the snapshot there
mkdir $DIR/$TARGET
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Failed to mount snapshot”
exit 1

alter_snap_vmx () {
# This function will alter the name in the VMX and make it the $TARGET name
cat $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx | grep -v “displayName” > $DIR/$TARGET/$TARGET.vmx
echo “displayName = “$TARGET”” >> $DIR/$TARGET/$TARGET.vmx

register_vm () {
# This function will register the VM to VMWARE
vmware-cmd -s register $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx

if [ -z “$1” ]; then
echo “Arguments: The target name”
exit 1

# Parameters:
SRC=centos-base         #The name of the source image, and the source dir
PREFIX=centos             #All targets will be created in the name centos-$NAME
DIR=/vmware               #My VMware VMs default dir
SNAPSIZE=6G              #My COOW space
VG=/dev/VGVM3           #The name of the VG

exit 0

# This script will remove a snapshot machine
# Written by Ez-Aton,
# Arguments: machine name

does_it_exist () {
# Check if the described VM exists
if [ `vmware-cmd -l | grep -c $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx` -eq “0” ]; then
echo “No such VM”
exit 1
if [ ! -e $VG/$TARGET ]; then
echo “There is no matching snapshot volume”
exit 1
if [ `lvs $VG/$TARGET | awk ‘{print $5}’ | grep -c $SRC` -eq “0” ]; then
echo “This is not a snapshot, or a snapshot of the wrong LV”
exit 1

ask_a_thousand_times () {
# This function verifies that the right thing is actually done
echo “You are about to remove a virtual machine and an LVM. Details:”
echo “Machine name: $TARGET”
echo “Logical Volume: $VG/$TARGET”
echo -n “Are you sure? (y/N): “
read RES
if [ “$RES” != “Y” ]&&[ “$RES” != “y” ]; then
echo “Decided not to do it”
exit 0
echo “”
echo “You have asked to remove this machine”
echo -n “Again: Are you sure? (y/N): “
read RES
if [ “$RES” != “Y” ]&&[ “$RES” != “y” ]; then
echo “Decided not to do it”
exit 0
echo “Removing VM and snapshot”

shut_down_vm () {
# Shut down the VM and unregister it
vmware-cmd $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx stop hard
vmware-cmd -s unregister $DIR/$TARGET/$SRC.vmx

remove_snapshot () {
# Umount and remove the snapshot
umount $DIR/$TARGET
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Cannot umount $DIR/$TARGET”
exit 1
lvremove -f $VG/$TARGET
if [ “$RET” -ne “0” ]; then
echo “Cannot remove snapshot LV”
exit 1

remove_dir () {
# Removes the mount point
rmdir $DIR/$TARGET

if [ -z “$1” ]; then
echo “No machine name. Exiting”
exit 1

DIR=/vmware                #VMware default VMs location
VG=/dev/VGVM3            #The name of the VG
PREFIX=centos              #Prefix to the name. All these VMs will be called centos-$NAME
SRC=centos-base           #The name of the baseline image, LVM, etc. All are the same


exit 0


1. Very fast provisioning. It takes almost five seconds, and that’s because my server is somewhat loaded.

2. Dependable: KISS at its marvel.

3. Conservative on space

4. Conservative on I/O load (unlike the traditional use of LVM snapshot, as explained in the beginning of this section).


1. Cannot streamline the contents of snapshot into the main image (LVM team will implement it in the future, I think)

2. Cannot take a snapshot of a snapshot (same as above)

3. If the COOW space of any of the snapshots is full (viewable through the command ‘lvs‘) then on boot, the source LV might not become active (confirmed RH4 bug, and this is the system I have used)

4. My script does not edit/alter /etc/fstab (I have decided it to be rather risky, and it was not worth the effort at this time)

5. My script does not check if there is enough available space in the VG. Not required, as it will fail if creation of LV will fail

You are most welcome to contribute any further changes done to this script. Please maintain my URL in the script if you decide to use it.


Linux LVM performace measurement

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Modern Linux LVM offers great abilities to maintain snapshots of existing logical volumes. Unlike NetApp “Write Anywhere File Layout” (WAFL), Linux LVM uses “Copy-on-Write” (COW) to allow snapshots. The process, in general, can be described in this pdf document.

I have issues several small tests, just to get real-life estimations of what is the actual performance impact such COW method can cause.

Server details:

1. CPU: 2x Xion 2.8GHz

2. Disks: /dev/sda – system disk. Did not touch it; /dev/sdb – used for the LVM; /dev/sdc – used for the LVM

3. Mount: LV is mounted (and remains mounted) on /vmware


1. No snapshot, Using VG on /dev/sdb only:

# time dd if=/dev/zero of=/vmware/test.2GB bs=1M count=2048
2048+0 records in
2048+0 records out

real 0m16.088s
user 0m0.009s
sys 0m8.756s

2. With snapshot on the same disk (/dev/sdb):

# time dd if=/dev/zero of=/vmware/test.2GB bs=1M count=2048
2048+0 records in
2048+0 records out

real 6m5.185s
user 0m0.008s
sys 0m11.754s

3. With snapshot on 2nd disk (/dev/sdc):

# time dd if=/dev/zero of=/vmware/test.2GB bs=1M count=2048
2048+0 records in
2048+0 records out

real 5m17.604s
user 0m0.004s
sys 0m11.265s

4. Same as before, creating a new empty file on the disk:

# time dd if=/dev/zero of=/vmware/test2.2GB bs=1M count=2048
2048+0 records in
2048+0 records out

real 3m24.804s
user 0m0.006s
sys 0m11.907s

5. Removed the snapshot. Created a 3rd file: