We have linux server that use multipathing

we have something that I think is a race condition between multipathing and mdadm

if we build the raid on powerpath devices like /dev/mapper/mpathab.. after reboot the raid is either degraded or in devices like /dev/sdX so for one reason or the other it does not keep the initial configuration.

we have installed emc powerpath as the san is a vnx and created the raid like this:

mdadm --verbose --create /dev/md0 --level=mirror --raid-devices=2  /dev/emcpowera /dev/emcpowerb

but after reboot this is the status of the raid:

# mdadm --detail /dev/md0
           Version : 1.2
     Creation Time : Mon Jun 11 15:14:47 2018
        Raid Level : raid1
        Array Size : 419298304 (399.87 GiB 429.36 GB)
     Used Dev Size : 419298304 (399.87 GiB 429.36 GB)
      Raid Devices : 2
     Total Devices : 2
       Persistence : Superblock is persistent

     Intent Bitmap : Internal

       Update Time : Tue Jun 12 15:25:02 2018
             State : clean
    Active Devices : 2
   Working Devices : 2
    Failed Devices : 0
     Spare Devices : 0

Consistency Policy : unknown

              Name : cjlnwp01:0  (local to host cjlnwp01)
              UUID : d2779403:bd8d370b:bdea907e:bb0e3c72
            Events : 567

    Number   Major   Minor   RaidDevice State
       0      65        0        0      active sync   /dev/sdq
       1       8      160        1      active sync   /dev/sdk

looks like mdadm on reboot takes the first devices it finds?

how to make sure that when a device is part of multipath it does not appear as a separate /dev/sdX devices..

per install devices sdc to sdq in the lsblk output below should not appear.

sdc                   8:32   0   400G  0 disk
sde                   8:64   0   400G  0 disk
sdg                   8:96   0   400G  0 disk
sdi                   8:128  0   400G  0 disk
sdk                   8:160  0   400G  0 disk
sdm                   8:192  0   400G  0 disk
sdo                   8:224  0   400G  0 disk
sdq                  65:0    0   400G  0 disk
emcpowera           120:0    0   400G  0 disk
└─md0                 9:0    0 399.9G  0 raid1
emcpowerb           120:16   0   400G  0 disk
└─md0                 9:0    0 399.9G  0 raid1

is there some sort of racing condition between mdadm and multipathing that can be arranged by adding dependencies in systemd?

for the record the OS is OEL 7.5 on a HPE proliant DL380 G9 server.


You can use the DEVICE entry in mdadm.conf to make it only consider specific device names and ignore everything else. By default, mdadm accepts all block devices listed in /proc/partitions.

DEVICE /dev/emc*

Unfortunately this can only be considered a lousy workaround. It's still a huge mess, as there are many cases that might end up using the wrong device.

This is also an issue you encounter with loop devices:

# losetup --find --show /dev/sdi2

Now, /dev/loop4 and /dev/sdc3 are identical, which also means they share the same UUID:

# blkid /dev/sdi2 /dev/loop4
/dev/sdi2: UUID="0a73725c-7e29-4171-be5d-be31d56bf8fe" TYPE="ext2"
/dev/loop4: UUID="0a73725c-7e29-4171-be5d-be31d56bf8fe" TYPE="ext2"

Now, which device should be used when you mount UUID=0a73725c-7e29-4171-be5d-be31d56bf8fe?

# mount UUID=0a73725c-7e29-4171-be5d-be31d56bf8fe /mnt/tmp
# df -h /mnt/tmp
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/loop4      2.0G  490M  1.4G  26% /mnt/tmp

It ended up picking the loop device in this case, which may or may not have been my intention.

Duplicating devices like this is a huge problem because suddenly, UUIDs that are supposed to be unique, are not unique any more, and thus the wrong device might end up being used.

LVM also struggles with this issue, it is described in some detail here: https://access.redhat.com/documentation/en-us/red_hat_enterprise_linux/7/html/logical_volume_manager_administration/duplicate_pv_multipath

Unfortunately this documentation also does not provide a proper solution, it simply suggests a device filter workaround as it were.

For a proper solution, it would be best to completely avoid having two different block devices representing the same data. Usually this involves putting data at an offset. I do not know if multipath has an offset feature by default.

With partition tables, mdadm, LUKS, LVM, you usually get the offset for free since these have a header at the start of their parent device, and the child block devices they provide are offset from that.

Thus on /dev/sdx you only see the partition table, /dev/sdx1 you only see the mdadm header, /dev/md1 you only see the LUKS header, /dev/mapper/cryptomd1 you only see the LVM header, and /dev/VG/LV you only see the filesystem because each of these devices is offset from its parent data.

If you did the same thing for your multipath setup, the mdadm metadata would only be visible on /dev/emcpowera, but not on /dev/sdk and there would be no way for the latter to mistakenly be assembled into a RAID.

  • how create the offset creating a partition them the md dev it creates the linux raid header on all the /dev/sdX devices. it even add the partiton see below. /dev/sdq1: UUID="434fb10c-0010-abcd-09cf-3408ba0def44" UUID_SUB="55a35449-e8b0-9200-6623-2d5be220fe82" LABEL="" TYPE="linux_raid_member" /dev/emcpowera1: UUID="434fb10c-0010-abcd-09cf-3408ba0def44" UUID_SUB="55a35449-e8b0-9200-6623-2d5be220fe82" LABEL="" TYPE="linux_raid_member" /dev/emcpowerb1: UUID="434fb10c-0010-abcd-09cf-3408ba0def44" UUID_SUB="8ac3f534-8685-f18b-7ef1-52cbc7422a20" LABEL="" TYPE="linux_raid_member – danidar Jun 13 '18 at 16:39

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