A Beginner's Guide To btrfs

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Submitted by falko (Contact Author) (Forums) on Tue, 2012-11-27 19:50. :: Linux

A Beginner's Guide To btrfs

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme <ft [at] falkotimme [dot] com>
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Last edited 11/26/2012

This guide shows how to work with the btrfs file system on Linux. It covers creating and mounting btrfs file systems, resizing btrfs file systems online, adding and removing devices, changing RAID levels, creating subvolumes and snapshots, using compression and other things. btrfs is still marked as experimental, but all those features make it a very interesting and flexible file system that should be taken into consideration when you look for the right file system.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

I'm using an Ubuntu 12.10 system here with four additional, yet unformatted hard drives (/dev/sdb, /dev/sdc, /dev/sdd, and /dev/sde). I will use these four hard drives to demonstrate btrfs usage.

A note for Ubuntu users:

Because we must run all the steps from this tutorial with root privileges, we can either prepend all commands in this tutorial with the string sudo, or we become root right now by typing

sudo su

 

2 Installing btrfs-tools

Before we start using btrfs, we must install the btrfs-tools package:

apt-get install btrfs-tools

 

3 Creating btrfs File Systems (RAID0, RAID1)

One great feature of btrfs is that you can create btrfs file systems on unformatted hard drives, i.e., you don't have to use tools like fdisk to partition a hard drive.

To create a btrfs file system on /dev/sdb, /dev/sdc, and /dev/sdd, we simply run:

mkfs.btrfs /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

Without any further switches, this file system uses RAID0 for data (non-redundant) and RAID1 for metadata (redundant). When data is lost for some reason (e.g. failed sectors on your hard drive), btrfs can use metadata for trying to rebuild that data.

root@server1:~# mkfs.btrfs /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

WARNING! - Btrfs Btrfs v0.19 IS EXPERIMENTAL
WARNING! - see http://btrfs.wiki.kernel.org before using

adding device /dev/sdc id 2
adding device /dev/sdd id 3
fs created label (null) on /dev/sdb
        nodesize 4096 leafsize 4096 sectorsize 4096 size 15.00GB
Btrfs Btrfs v0.19
root@server1:~#

If you want to use btrfs with just one hard drive and don't want metadata to be redundant (attention: this is dangerous - if your metadata is lost, your data is lost as well), you'd use the -m single switch (-m refers to metadata, -d to data):

mkfs.btrfs -m single /dev/sdb

If you want to do the same with multiple hard drives (i.e., non-redundant metadata), you'd use -m raid0 instead of -m single:

mkfs.btrfs -m raid0 /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

If you want data to be redundant and metadata to be non-redundant, you'd use the following command:

mkfs.btrfs -m raid0 -d raid1 /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

If you want both data and metadata to be redundant, you'd use this command (RAID1 is the default for metadata, that's why we don't have to specify it here):

mkfs.btrfs -d raid1 /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd

It is also possible to use RAID10 (-m raid10 or -d raid10), but then you need at least four hard drives. For RAID1, you need at least two hard drives, but it is not important that both drives have exactly the same size (which is another great thing about btrfs).

To get details about your filesystem, you can use...

btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb

... which is equivalent to...

btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdc

... and...

btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdd

... because you can use any hard drive which is part of the btrfs file system.

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb
failed to read /dev/sr0
Label: none  uuid: 21f33aaa-b2b3-464b-8cf1-0f8cc3689529
        Total devices 3 FS bytes used 28.00KB
        devid    3 size 5.00GB used 1.01GB path /dev/sdd
        devid    2 size 5.00GB used 1.01GB path /dev/sdc
        devid    1 size 5.00GB used 2.02GB path /dev/sdb

Btrfs Btrfs v0.19
root@server1:~#

To get a list of all btrfs file systems, just leave out the device:

btrfs filesystem show

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem show
failed to read /dev/sr0
Label: none  uuid: 21f33aaa-b2b3-464b-8cf1-0f8cc3689529
        Total devices 3 FS bytes used 28.00KB
        devid    3 size 5.00GB used 1.01GB path /dev/sdd
        devid    2 size 5.00GB used 1.01GB path /dev/sdc
        devid    1 size 5.00GB used 2.02GB path /dev/sdb

Btrfs Btrfs v0.19
root@server1:~#

 

4 Mounting btrfs File Systems

Our btrfs file system can now be mounted like this:

mount /dev/sdb /mnt

Again, this is equivalent to...

mount /dev/sdc /mnt

... and:

mount /dev/sdd /mnt

In your /etc/fstab, this would look as follows (if you want to have the file system mounted automatically at boot time):

vi /etc/fstab

[...]
/dev/sdb /mnt               btrfs   defaults 0       1
[...]

Run...

df -h

... to see your new file system:

root@server1:~# df -h
Filesystem                Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev                      489M  4.0K  489M   1% /dev
tmpfs                     200M  308K  199M   1% /run
none                      5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none                      498M     0  498M   0% /run/shm
none                      100M     0  100M   0% /run/user
/dev/mapper/server1-root   27G  1.1G   25G   5% /
/dev/sda1                 228M   29M  188M  14% /boot
/dev/sdb                   15G   56K   10G   1% /mnt
root@server1:~#

The command...

btrfs filesystem df /mnt

... gives you some more details about your data and metadata (e.g. RAID levels):

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem df /mnt
Data, RAID1: total=1.00GB, used=0.00
Data: total=8.00MB, used=0.00
System, RAID1: total=8.00MB, used=4.00KB
System: total=4.00MB, used=0.00
Metadata, RAID1: total=1.00GB, used=24.00KB
Metadata: total=8.00MB, used=0.00
root@server1:~#

 

5 Using Compression With btrfs

btrfs file systems can make use of zlib (default) and lzo compression which means that compressible files will be stored in compressed form on the hard drive which saves space. zlib has a higher compression ratio while lzo is faster and takes less cpu load. Using compression, especially lzo compression, can improve the throughput preformance. Please note that btrfs will not compress files that have already been compressed ar application level (such as videos, music, images, etc.).

You can mount a btrfs file system with lzo compression as follows:

mount -o compress=lzo /dev/sdb /mnt

For zlib compression, you'd either use...

mount -o compress=zlib /dev/sdb /mnt

... or...

mount -o compress /dev/sdb /mnt

... since zlib is the default compression algorithm.

In /etc/fstab, this would look as follows:

vi /etc/fstab

[...]
/dev/sdb /mnt               btrfs   defaults,compress=lzo 0       1
[...]

 

6 Rescuing A Dead btrfs File System

If you have a dead btrfs file system, you can try to mount it with the recovery mount option which will try to seek for a usable copy of the tree root:

mount -o recovery /dev/sdb /mnt

 

7 Resizing btrfs File Systems Online

btrfs file systems can be resized online, i.e., there's no need to unmount the partition or to reboot into a rescue system.

To decrease our /mnt volume by 2GB, we run:

btrfs filesystem resize -2g /mnt

(Instead of g for GB, you cam also use m for MB, e.g.

btrfs filesystem resize -500m /mnt

)

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem resize -2g /mnt
Resize '/mnt' of '-2g'
root@server1:~#

Let's take a look at our /mnt partition...

df -h

... and we should see that it has a size of 13GB instead of 15GB:

root@server1:~# df -h
Filesystem                Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev                      489M  4.0K  489M   1% /dev
tmpfs                     200M  308K  199M   1% /run
none                      5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none                      498M     0  498M   0% /run/shm
none                      100M     0  100M   0% /run/user
/dev/mapper/server1-root   27G  1.1G   25G   5% /
/dev/sda1                 228M   29M  188M  14% /boot
/dev/sdb                   13G  312K   10G   1% /mnt
root@server1:~#

To increase the /mnt partition by 1GB, run:

btrfs filesystem resize +1g /mnt

df -h

root@server1:~# df -h
Filesystem                Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev                      489M  4.0K  489M   1% /dev
tmpfs                     200M  308K  199M   1% /run
none                      5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none                      498M     0  498M   0% /run/shm
none                      100M     0  100M   0% /run/user
/dev/mapper/server1-root   27G  1.1G   25G   5% /
/dev/sda1                 228M   29M  188M  14% /boot
/dev/sdb                   14G  312K   10G   1% /mnt
root@server1:~#

To increase the partition to the max. available space, run:

btrfs filesystem resize max /mnt

df -h

root@server1:~# df -h
Filesystem                Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
udev                      489M  4.0K  489M   1% /dev
tmpfs                     200M  308K  199M   1% /run
none                      5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none                      498M     0  498M   0% /run/shm
none                      100M     0  100M   0% /run/user
/dev/mapper/server1-root   27G  1.1G   25G   5% /
/dev/sda1                 228M   29M  188M  14% /boot
/dev/sdb                   15G  312K   10G   1% /mnt
root@server1:~#

 

8 Adding/Deleting Hard Drives To/From A btrfs File System

Now we want to add /dev/sde to our btrfs file system. While the file system is mounted to /mnt, we simply run:

btrfs device add /dev/sde /mnt

Let's take a look at the file system afterwards:

btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb
failed to read /dev/sr0
Label: none  uuid: 21f33aaa-b2b3-464b-8cf1-0f8cc3689529
        Total devices 4 FS bytes used 156.00KB
        devid    4 size 5.00GB used 0.00 path /dev/sde
        devid    3 size 5.00GB used 1.01GB path /dev/sdd
        devid    2 size 5.00GB used 1.01GB path /dev/sdc
        devid    1 size 5.00GB used 2.02GB path /dev/sdb

Btrfs Btrfs v0.19
root@server1:~#

As you see, /dev/sde has been added, but no space is being used on that device. If you are using a RAID level other than 0, you should now do a filesystem balance so that data and metadata get spread over all four devices:

btrfs filesystem balance /mnt

(Another syntax for the same command would be:

btrfs balance start /mnt

)

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem balance /mnt
Done, had to relocate 5 out of 5 chunks
root@server1:~#

Let's take a look at our file system again:

btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb

root@server1:~# btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb
failed to read /dev/sr0
Label: none  uuid: 21f33aaa-b2b3-464b-8cf1-0f8cc3689529
        Total devices 4 FS bytes used 28.00KB
        devid    4 size 5.00GB used 512.00MB path /dev/sde
        devid    3 size 5.00GB used 32.00MB path /dev/sdd
        devid    2 size 5.00GB used 512.00MB path /dev/sdc
        devid    1 size 5.00GB used 36.00MB path /dev/sdb

Btrfs Btrfs v0.19
root@server1:~#

As you can see, data/metadata has been moved to /dev/sde.

To delete an intact hard drive, e.g. /dev/sdc, from the btrfs file system online, you can simply run:

btrfs device delete /dev/sdc /mnt

(This automatically does a rebalance of data/metadata, if necessary.)

While...

btrfs filesystem show /dev/sdb

... still lists /dev/sdc, the output of...

df -h

... shows the reduced size of the file system.

To remove a failed hard drive, unmount the file system first:

umount /mnt

Mount it in degraded mode:

mount -o degraded /dev/sdb /mnt

Remove the failed hard drive. If you use a RAID level that requires a certain number of hard drives (e.g. two for RAID1 and four for RAID10), you might have to add an intact replacement drive because you cannot go below the minimum number of required drives.

If you have to add a replacement drive (e.g. /dev/sdf), do it as follows:

btrfs device add /dev/sdf /mnt

Only if you are sure you have enough intact drives do you run the following command to complete the replacement:

btrfs device delete missing /mnt


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