Posted on

Setting Up Raid 1 On Ubuntu 10.04

The following has been distilled from and revised to match our operating process.


Follow the installation steps until you get to the Partition disks step, then:

  1. Select Manual as the partition method.
  2. Select the first hard drive, and agree to “Create a new empty partition table on this device?”.
    • Repeat this step for the second drive.
  3. Select the “FREE SPACE” on the first drive then select “Create a new partition”.
  4. Next, select the Size of the partition. This partition will be the swap partition, and a general rule for swap size is twice that of RAM. Enter the partition size, then choose Primary, then Beginning.
  5. Select the “Use as:” line at the top. By default this is “Ext4 journaling file system”, change that to “physical volume for RAID” then “Done setting up partition”.
  6. For the / partition once again select “Free Space” on the first drive then “Create a new partition”.
  7. Use the rest of the free space on the drive and choose Continue, then Primary.
  8. As with the swap partition, select the “Use as:” line at the top, changing it to “physical volume for RAID”. Also select the “Bootable flag:” line to change the value to “on”. Then choose “Done setting up partition”.

RAID Configuration

With the partitions setup the arrays are ready to be configured:

  1. Back in the main “Partition Disks” page, select “Configure Software RAID” at the top.
  2. Select “yes” to write the changes to disk.
  3. Choose “Create MD device”.
  4. Select “RAID1”
  5. Enter the number of active devices “2”, or the amount of hard drives you have, for the array. Then select “Continue”.
  6. Next, enter the number of spare devices “0” by default, then choose “Continue”.
    • Choose which partitions to use. Generally they will be sda1, sdb1
    • For the swap partition choose sda1 and sdb1. Select “Continue” to go to the next step.
  7. Repeat steps three through seven for the / partition choosing sda2 and sdb2.
  8. Once done select “Finish”.


There should now be a list of hard drives and RAID devices. The next step is to format and set the mount point for the RAID devices. Treat the RAID device as a local hard drive, format and mount accordingly.

  1. Select “#1” under the “RAID1 device #0” partition.
  2. Choose “Use as:”. Then select “swap area”, then “Done setting up partition”.
  3. Next, select “#1” under the “RAID1 device #1” partition.
  4. Choose “Use as:”. Then select “Ext4 journaling file system”.
  5. Then select the “Mount point” and choose “/ – the root file system”. Change any of the other options as appropriate, then select “Done setting up partition”.
  6. Finally, select “Finish partitioning and write changes to disk”.
  7. The installer will then ask if you would like to boot in a degraded state, select Yes.
Posted on

Linux mdadm tips & tricks

RAID arrays are an important part of any mission critical enterprise architecture. When we talk RAID here we are talking mirrored RAID, or mirrored and striped RAID, not simply striping which gives you a larger drive from several smaller drives. While that may be great for some home or desktop applications, for a enterprise application that simply doubles your changes of a failed system.

We often spec out RAID 1 or higher mirrored systems with RAID 1+0 being the most common (mirrored and striped) so that you increase access performance AND keep the system up if a single drive fails (on a 3 drive RAID 1+0 configuration). Along the way we’ve learned some tips & tricks that may help you out. To start with we’ll post some info on Linux RAID and eventually expand this article to include Windows information.

Fake v. Real Raid

One thing we’ve learned recently is that in the flood of new low cost servers there has also been a flood of those servers coming with on board RAID controllers. Unfortunately these new RAID controllers use a low cost solution that basically pretends to be a RAID controller by modifying the BIOS software. In essence they are software RAID controllers posing a hardware RAID controllers. This means you have all of the BAD features of both systems.

One easy way to tell if you have a server with “fake raid” is to configure the drives in RAID mode from the BIOS. Then boot and install Linux. If the Linux install sees both drives versus a single drive then the “on board RAID” is a poser. Skip it. Configure the BIOS in standard drive mode & use the software RAID.

Most current Linux distros have RAID setup and configuration built into the setup and installation process.   We’ll leave the details to other web articles.

MDADM – Linux RAID Utility

mdadm is the Linux utility used to manage and monitor RAID arrays.   After configuration a pair of drives, typically denoted with sda0, sdb0 etc. show up in your standard Linux command as md0.   They are “paired up” to make up the single RAID drive that most of your applications care about.

Status Report

mdadm is how you look “inside” the single RAID array and see what is going on.   Here is an example of a simple “show me the status” command on the RAID array.  In this case we have a failed secondary drive in a 2-disk RAID1 array:

[root@dev:log]# mdadm --detail /dev/md0
 Version : 00.90.03
 Creation Time : Thu Jan  8 12:20:13 2009
 Raid Level : raid1
 Array Size : 104320 (101.89 MiB 106.82 MB)
 Used Dev Size : 104320 (101.89 MiB 106.82 MB)
 Raid Devices : 2
 Total Devices : 1
Preferred Minor : 0
 Persistence : Superblock is persistent
 Update Time : Wed Jul 28 07:27:08 2010
 State : clean, degraded
 Active Devices : 1
Working Devices : 1
 Failed Devices : 0
 Spare Devices : 0
 UUID : a6ef9671:2a98f9e9:d1146f90:29b5d7da
 Events : 0.826
 Number   Major   Minor   RaidDevice State
 0       8        1        0      active sync   /dev/sda1
 1       0        0        1      removed

[root@dev:~]# cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid1]
md0 : active raid1 sdb[1] sda1[0]
 104320 blocks [2/2] [UU]

md1 : active raid1 sda2[0]
 1020032 blocks [2/1] [U_]

md2 : active raid1 sda5[0]
 482431808 blocks [2/1] [U_]

unused devices: <none>

Rebuild An Array

Shut down the system with the failed drive, unless you have a hot-swap drive setup. Pull the bad drive, partition it if necessary, and tell MDADM to rebuild the array.

[root@dev:~]# cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid1]
md0 : active raid1 sda1[0]
 104320 blocks [2/1] [U_]

md1 : active raid1 sda2[0]
 1020032 blocks [2/1] [U_]

md2 : active raid1 sda5[0]
 482431808 blocks [2/1] [U_]

unused devices: <none>
[root@dev:~]# mdadm --add /dev/md0 /dev/sdb1
mdadm: added /dev/sdb1
[root@dev:~]# mdadm --add /dev/md1 /dev/sdb2
mdadm: added /dev/sdb2
[root@dev:~]# mdadm --add /dev/md2 /dev/sdb5
mdadm: added /dev/sdb5

This command adds the replaced drive, /dev/sdb in our case for our second SATA drive, to the first RAID array named md0.

Remove A Drive

To remove a drive it must be marked faulty, then removed.

[root@dev:~]# mdadm --fail /dev/md0 /dev/sdb
[root@dev:~]# mdadm --remove /dev/md0 /dev/sdb

We had to do this on our drive because we forgot to partition it into a boot and data (/ and /boot and /dev/shm) partition.  Thus the /dev/sdb instead of /dev/sdb1, etc. as it the norm for a partitioned drive.

Checking Rebuild Progress

[root@dev:~]# cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [raid1]
md0 : active raid1 sdb1[1] sda1[0]
 104320 blocks [2/2] [UU]
md1 : active raid1 sdb2[1] sda2[0]
 1020032 blocks [2/2] [UU]
md2 : active raid1 sdb5[2] sda5[0]
 482431808 blocks [2/1] [U_]
 [>....................]  recovery =  0.8% (4050176/482431808) finish=114.5min speed=69592K/sec
unused devices: <none>

FDISK – Drive Partitioning

To properly re-add a drive to an array you will need to set the partitions correctly.  You do this with fdisk.  First, look at the partitions on the valid drive then copy that to the new drive that is to replace the failed drive.

[root@dev:~]# fdisk /dev/sda

The number of cylinders for this disk is set to 60801.
There is nothing wrong with that, but this is larger than 1024,
and could in certain setups cause problems with:
1) software that runs at boot time (e.g., old versions of LILO)
2) booting and partitioning software from other OSs
 (e.g., DOS FDISK, OS/2 FDISK)

Command (m for help): p

Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

 Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1          13      104391   fd  Linux raid autodetect
/dev/sda2              14         140     1020127+  fd  Linux raid autodetect
/dev/sda3             141         741     4827532+  8e  Linux LVM
/dev/sda4             742       60801   482431950    5  Extended
/dev/sda5             742       60801   482431918+  fd  Linux raid autodetect

[root@dev:~]# fdisk /dev/sda

Use "n" to create the new partitions, and "t" to set the type to match above.
That should get you started.  Google & Linux man commands are your friend.  As we have time we’ll publish more Linux RAID tricks here.