Quick and Dirty RAID Information LG #35

If you are thinking about implementing a Linux software raid then here is the most important link that you should investigate before you start:

Linas Vepsta’s raid page: http://linas.org/linux/raid.html

The date of this posting is Oct 29/98 and the present raid documentation is incomplete and confusing. This posting is to clear up problems that you will encounter implementing raid0 and raid1.

I wanted to implement mirror over striping. The striping gives good read/write performance increases and the mirroring gives backup and read performance increases.

I started with kernel 2.0.30 and implemented raid0 (striping). Then I upgraded my kernel to 2.0.35 and the fun began. After struggling to get raid0 working with 2.0.35, I tackled raid1. Well, guess what, throw everything that you learned about raid out the window and start from scratch! A good idea is to start simple, get raid0 up and running then add raid1. The story begins:

Raid0 (striping) with kernel 2.0.30

Linear and raid0 (striping) are implemented in the kernel since 2.x. You have to recompile your kernel with multiple devices installed. I recommend installing it in the kernel to start. You will have enough problems without implementing it as a module.

To check if you have multiple devices installed. dmesg |more and look to see if you have the md dirver loaded and raid0 registered (can’t remember the exact phrase – late at night ;-( )

Or type cat /proc/mdstat to see the status of your md devices. You should see /dev/md0 to /dev/md3 inactive.

Strangely, the kernel tools mdtools-0.35 are not usually supplied with distributions. These are the tools that are required for setting up the raid, running and stopping it.

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You can find them on the Slackware distribution at (23k in size)


Download to /usr/local/src then:

cd /  
tar -zxvf /usr/local/src/md.tgz

It will put the files in the correct place.


Read through the README file (ignore warnings of course) The documentation is quite good for kernel 2.0.30 and linear /raid0 mode. The Linux Journal (June or July 98) has an excellent article on how to implement raid0 (striping). It was what spiked my interest.

The Linux Gazette has another article that helps:

You should start the raid array before fsck -a, usually located in /etc/rc.d/rc.s for slackware distributions and should stop the raid array in both /etc/rc.d/rc.0 and rc.6. (BTW since they are identical files in slackware, can’t we just do a softlink from one to the other and modify only one?)

To check to see if it is working, type cat /proc/mdstat, it should indicate what states the md devices are (/dev/md0 raid0 using /dev/sda1 and /dev/sdb1).

Test, test, test your raid. Shutdown, power-up, see if it is working like you expected.

I did some fancy copying using cp -rap switches to copy complete directory structures to the raid arrays. Then modified /etc/fstab to include the new drives.

Swap partitions do not need to be striped. They are automatically striped if a priority is used. Check the Software-RAID-mini-HOWTO and the Bonehead question section for details. It is amazingly simple.

Implement UPS NOW!

If you lose power (AC line), you will lose your raid array and any data that is on it! You should implement a UPS backup power supply. The purpose of the UPS is to keep your system running for a short period of time during brownouts and power fails. The UPS should inform your system that the power has failed through a serial port. There is a daemon that runs in the background that monitors the serial port. When it is informed that there is a power failure, it will wait a preset period of time (usually 5 minutes) than perform a system shutdown. The idea is that after 5 minutes of no power, the power will be down for a long time.

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Most Linux distributions come with the basic UPS daemon powerd. Check « man powerd » for more info. It is a simple daemon that is implemented in /etc/inittab under what happens when the power fails. Basically, a dumb UPS, just closes a relay contact that is connected to the serial port. powerd monitors to see if the contact has closed. If it does it shuts down the PC after a predetermined time, warns users and can send an email to root.

I used an APC smart UPS that communicates through the serial port. There is an excellent daemon called apcupsd that works like a charm. It is located here. Please read the notice and sympathize with the author, he has done an excellent job (kudos to the author!). The installation works like a charm and the documentation is excellent.


RAID0 and 2.0.31 to 2.0.34

Don’t have a clue. I upgraded from 2.0.30 to 2.0.35 because 2.0.35 is the latest stable release.

RAID0 and Kernel 2.0.35

The mdtools compiled perfectly on my home machine (testbed running 2.0.30) but would not compile on my work machine (upgraded to 2.0.35). I kept getting an error about MD_Version (can’t remember the exact name) not being defined. After a lot of head scratching and searching, I found that /usr/src/include/md.h contains the version number of the md driver. With version 2.0.30, it was ver 0.35, with 2.0.35 it is ver 0.36. If you « mdadd -V » it will indicate the version of md that mdadd will work with. So I had the wrong mdtools version. Here is the location of the correct version:

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Download to /usr/local/src then

tar -zxvf raidtools-0.41.tar.gz

A new directory will be made /usr/local/src/raidtools-0.41

Change to the new directory and read the INSTALL file, then


I can’t remember if I had to then make and make install after this. I can’t duplicate this now that I’ve upgraded to a new raid patch.

You should have a new mkraid and mdadd binary. Type mdadd -V to check if your binaries are updated. It should respond with something that says something like mdadd 0.3d compiled for raidtools-0.41. Then read the QuickStart.RAID for the latest info. For raid0, not much has changed from the previous versions.

RAID1 and Kernel 2.0.35

You must patch the kernel to enable RAID 1, 4 and 5. The patch is located at


Copy to /usr/src directory and uncompress the patch:

tar -zxvf raid0145-19981005-c-2.0.35.tz

Note the patch will be looking for /usr/src/linux-2.0.35 directory. If you have your 2.0.35 source installed as /usr/src/linux, you should mv /usr/src/linux /usr/src/linux-2.0.35 and soft link /usr/src/linux to it. ln -s /usr/src/linux-2.0.35 /usr/src/linux

To apply the patch, in /usr/src:

patch -p0