Provisioning KVM virtual machines on iSCSI the hard way (Part 2 of 2)

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Filed under: libvirt, Virt Tools | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

The previous post described how to setup an iSCSI target on Fedora/RHEL the hard way. This post demonstrates how to configure iSCSI on a libvirt KVM host using virsh and then provison a guest using virt-install.

Defining the storage pool

libvirt manages all storage through an object known as a “storage pool”. There are many types of storage pools SCSI, NFS, ext4, plain directory and, interesting for this article, iSCSI. All libvirt objects are configured via an XML description and storage pools are no exception. For an iSCSI storage pool there are three pieces of information to provide. The “Target path” determines how libvirt will expose device paths for the pool. Paths like /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, etc are not a good choice because they are not stable across reboots, or across machines in a cluster, the names are assigned on a first come, first served basis by the kernel. It is strongly recommended that “/dev/disk/by-path” by used unless you know what you’re doing. This results in a naming scheme that will be stable across all machines. The “Host Name” is simply the fully qualified DNS name of the iSCSI server. Finally the “Source Path” is that adorable IQN seen earlier when creating the iSCSI target (“iqn.2004-04.fedora:fedora13:iscsi.kvmguests“). This isn’t the place to describe the full XML schema for storage pools, it suffices to say that an iSCSI config looks like this

<pool type='iscsi'>
        <host name=''/>
        <device path='iqn.2004-04.fedora:fedora13:iscsi.kvmguests'/>

Save this XML snippet to a file named ‘kvmguests.xml’ and then load it into libvirt using the “pool-define” command.

# virsh pool-define kvmguests.xml
Pool kvmguests defined from kvmguests.xml
# virsh pool-list --all
Name                 State      Autostart
default              active     yes
kvmguests           inactive   no

Starting the storage pool

This has saved the configuration, but has not actually logged into the iSCSI target, so no LUNs are yet visible on the virtualization host. Todo this requires running the “pool-start” command, at which point LUNs should be visible using the “vol-list” command:

# virsh pool-start kvmguests
Pool kvmguests2 started
# virsh vol-list kvmguests
Name                 Path
-----------------------------------------             /dev/disk/by-path/ip-             /dev/disk/by-path/ip-

The volume names shown there are what will be required later in order to install a guest with virt-install.

Querying LUN information

Further information about each LUN can be obtained using the “vol-info” and “vol-dumpxml” commands

# virsh vol-info /dev/disk/by-path/ip-
Type:           block
Capacity:       10.00 GB
Allocation:     10.00 GB

# virsh vol-dumpxml /dev/disk/by-path/ip-
    <format type='unknown'/>

Activating the storage at boot time

Finally, if everything is looking in order, then the pool can be set to start automatically upon host boot.

# virsh pool-autostart kvmguests
Pool kvmguests2 marked as autostarted

Provisioning a guest on iSCSI

The virt-install command is a convenient way to install new guests from the command line. It has support for configuring a guest to use volumes from a storage pool via its –disk argument. This arg takes the name of the storage pool, followed by the name of the volume within it. It is now time to install a guest with two disks, the first exclusive use for its root filesystem, the second to be shareable between several guests for data:

# virt-install --accelerate --name rhel6x86_64 --ram 800 --vnc --hvm --disk vol=kvmguests/ --disk vol=kvmguests/,perms=sh --pxe

Once this is up and running, take a look at the guest XML that virt-install used to associate the guest with the iSCSI LUNs:

# virsh dumpxml rhel6x86_64
<domain type='kvm' id='4'>
    <type arch='x86_64' machine='rhel6.0.0'>hvm</type>
    <boot dev='network'/>
  <clock offset='utc'/>
    <disk type='block' device='disk'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw'/>
      <source dev='/dev/disk/by-path/ip-'/>
      <target dev='hda' bus='ide'/>
      <alias name='ide0-0-0'/>
      <address type='drive' controller='0' bus='0' unit='0'/>
    <disk type='block' device='disk'>
      <driver name='qemu' type='raw'/>
      <source dev='/dev/disk/by-path/ip-'/>
      <target dev='hdb' bus='ide'/>
      <alias name='ide0-0-1'/>
      <address type='drive' controller='0' bus='0' unit='1'/>
    <controller type='ide' index='0'>
      <alias name='ide0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x01' function='0x1'/>
    <interface type='network'>
      <mac address='52:54:00:0a:ca:84'/>
      <source network='default'/>
      <target dev='vnet1'/>
      <alias name='net0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x04' function='0x0'/>
    <serial type='pty'>
      <source path='/dev/pts/28'/>
      <target port='0'/>
      <alias name='serial0'/>
    <console type='pty' tty='/dev/pts/28'>
      <source path='/dev/pts/28'/>
      <target port='0'/>
      <alias name='serial0'/>
    <input type='mouse' bus='ps2'/>
    <graphics type='vnc' port='5901' autoport='yes' keymap='en-us'/>
      <model type='cirrus' vram='9216' heads='1'/>
      <alias name='video0'/>
      <address type='pci' domain='0x0000' bus='0x00' slot='0x02' function='0x0'/>

In particular, notice how the guest uses the huge paths under /dev/disk/by-path to refer to the LUNs, and also that the second disk has the <shareable/> flag set. This ensures the SELinux labelling allows multiple guests to access the disk and that all I/O caching is disabled on the host. Both critically important if you want the disk to be safely shared between guests.

Summing up

To allow migration of guests between hosts, some form of shared storage is required. People often turn to NFS at first, but this has security shortcomings because it does not allow for SELinux labelling, which means that there is limited sVirt protection between guests. ie one guest can access another guests’s disks. By choosing iSCSI as the shared storage platform, full sVirt isolation between guests is maintained on a par with non-shared storage setups. Hopefully this series of iSCSI related blog posts have shown that even provisioning KVM guests on iSCSI the hard way, is not actually very hard at all. It also shows that you don’t need a expensive commercial NAS to make use of iSCSI, any server with a bunch of disks running Fedora or RHEL can easily be turned into an iSCSI storage server for your virtual machines, though you will have to be prepared to get your hands dirty!

Provisioning KVM virtual machines on iSCSI the hard way (Part 1 of 2)

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Filed under: libvirt, Virt Tools | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

The previous articles showed how to provision a guest on iSCSI the nice & easy way using a QNAP NAS and virt-manager. This article and the one that follows, will show how to provision a guest on iSCSI the “hard way”, using the low level command line tools tgtadm, virsh and virt-install. The iSCSI server in this case is going to be provided by a guest running Fedora 13, x86_64.

Enabling the iSCSI target service

The first task is to install and enable the iSCSI target service. On Fedora and RHEL servers, the iSCSI target service is provided by the ‘scsi-target-utils’ RPM package, so install that now and set the service to start on boot

# yum install scsi-target-utils
# chkconfig tgtd on
# service tgtd start

Allocating storage for the LUNs

The  Linux SCSI target service does not care whether the LUNs exported are backed by plain files, LVM volumes or raw block devices, though obviously there is some performance overhead from introducing the LVM and/or filesystem layers as compared to block devices. Since the guest providing the iSCSI service in this example has no spare block device or LVM space, raw files will have to be used. In this example, two LUNs will be created one thin provisioned (aka sparse file) 10 GB LUN and one fully allocated 500 MB LUN

# mkdir -p /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/rhel6x86_64.img bs=1M seek=10240 count=0
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/shareddata.img bs=1M count=512
# restorecon -R /var/lib/tgtd

Exporting an iSCSI target and LUNs (the manual way)

Historically, you had to invoke a series of tgtadm commands to setup the iSCSI target and LUNs and then add them to /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit to make sure they run on every boot. This is true of RHEL5 vintage scsi-target-utils at least. If you have a more recent version circa Fedora 13 / RHEL-6 there is finally a nice configuration file to handle this setup, so those lucky readers can skip ahead. The first step is to add a target, for this the adorable IQNs make a re-appearance

# tgtadm --lld iscsi --op new --mode target --tid 1 --targetname iqn.2004-04.fedora:fedora13:iscsi.kvmguests

Next step is to associate the storage volumes, just created, with LUNs in the iSCSI target.

# tgtadm --lld iscsi --op new --mode logicalunit --tid 1 --lun 1 --backing-store /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/rhel6x86_64.img
# tgtadm --lld iscsi --op new --mode logicalunit --tid 1 --lun 2 --backing-store /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/shareddata.img

To confirm that all went to plan, query the iSCSI target setup

# tgtadm  --lld iscsi --op show --mode target
Target 1: iqn.2004-04.fedora:fedora13:iscsi.kvmguests
    System information:
        Driver: iscsi
        State: ready
    I_T nexus information:
    LUN information:
        LUN: 0
            Type: controller
            SCSI ID: IET     00010000
            SCSI SN: beaf10
            Size: 0 MB
            Online: Yes
            Removable media: No
            Backing store type: rdwr
            Backing store path: None
        LUN: 1
            Type: disk
            SCSI ID: IET     00010001
            SCSI SN: beaf11
            Size: 10737 MB
            Online: Yes
            Removable media: No
            Backing store type: rdwr
            Backing store path: /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/rhel6x86_64.img
        LUN: 2
            Type: disk
            SCSI ID: IET     00010002
            SCSI SN: beaf12
            Size: 537 MB
            Online: Yes
            Removable media: No
            Backing store type: rdwr
            Backing store path: /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/shareddata.img
    Account information:
    ACL information:

Finally, allow client access to the target. This example allows access to all clients without any authentication.

# tgtadm --lld iscsi --op bind --mode target --tid 1 --initiator-address ALL

Exporting an iSCSI target and LUNs (with a config file)

As mentioned earlier, modern versions of scsi-target-utils now include a configuration file for setting up targets and LUNs. The master configuration is /etc/tgt/targets.conf and is full of example configurations. To replicate the manual setup from above requires adding a configuration block that looks like this

<target iqn.2004-04.fedora:fedora13:iscsi.kvmguests>
backing-store /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/rhel6x86_64.img
backing-store /var/lib/tgtd/kvmguests/shareddata.img

With the configuration update, load it into the iSCSI target daemon

#tgt-admin --execute

Two common mistakes

The two most likely places to trip up when configuring the iSCSI target are SELinux and iptables. If adding plain files as LUNs in an iSCSI target, make sure the files are labelled suitably with system_u:object_r:tgtd_var_lib_t:s0. For iptables, ensure that port 3260 is open.

That is a very quick guide to setting up an iSCSI target on Fedora 13. The next step is to switch back to the virtualization host and provision a new guest using iSCSI for its virtual disk. This is covered in Part II