Autarchy of the Private Cave

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    How to: enable metadata duplication on an existing btrfs filesystem

    30th December 2016

    Just one command: sudo btrfs balance start -v -mconvert=dup /toplevel/
    where /toplevel/ is your mountpoint of the btrfs root, -v is there for verbosity (not too verbose, don’t worry), and -mconvert=dup literally says act on metadata only, convert data profile to DUP.

    This will duplicate both metadata and btrfs system data.
    Verify with: sudo btrfs fi df /toplevel:

    Data, single: total=10.00GiB, used=3.88GiB
    System, DUP: total=64.00MiB, used=4.00KiB
    Metadata, DUP: total=512.00MiB, used=286.18MiB
    GlobalReserve, single: total=96.00MiB, used=0.00B

    Explanation: on SSDs, mkfs.btrfs creates metadata in single mode (because of widely spread SSD deduplication algorithms negating duplicate entries). However, second copy of metadata increases recovery chances, especially so if your SSD does not deduplicate writes. Hence the desire to add metadata/systemdata duplication after the filesystem is created.

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    How to: easily add swap partition to a live system on btrfs

    14th April 2016

    Recently I had a need to add a swap file to my Debian installation.
    However, I am now using btrfs, and – as with any other COW filesystem – it is not possible to simply create a swap file and use it.
    There are workarounds (creating a file with a COW attribute removed, and then loop-mounting it), but I just did not like them.

    So I have decided to add a swap partition.
    It worked amazingly (and very easily), there was even no need to reboot – at all.
    I still did restart, just to make sure the system is bootable – and all was perfectly fine.

    My initial setup is very simple: a single /dev/sda1 partition on the /dev/sda disk, fully used by btrfs.
    Different important paths/mountpoints are btrfs subvolumes, using flat hierarchy.
    For this example, let us assume that /dev/sda (and /dev/sda1) is 25GB large, and that I want to add a 2GB swap /dev/sda2 after /dev/sda1.

    Brief explanation before we start:

    1. shrink btrfs filesystem by more than 2GB;
    2. shrink btrfs partition by 2GB;
    3. create new 2GB partition for the swap;
    4. resize btrfs filesystem to full size of its new-size partition;
    5. initialize swap and turn it on.

    Here are the very easy steps! Just make sure you do not make mistakes anywhere ;)
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    ZFS is the FS for Containers in Ubuntu 16.04 and how it compares to btrfs

    20th February 2016

    Recently in hacker news the following was posted: ZFS is the FS for Containers in Ubuntu 16.04.

    I must admit the 16.04 demo does look very pleasant to work with.

    However, bringing in ZFS into Linux reminded me of a fairly recent comparison of ZFS and btrfs that I had to do when building my home NAS.
    At that time, few months ago, I’ve arrived (among others) at the following conclusions:

    • ZFS on FreeBSD is reliable, though a memory hog;
    • on Debian, OpenVault seems to be a good NAS web-management interface;
    • on FreeBSD, FreeNAS is good (there is also Nas4Free fork of an older version, but I haven’t looked into it deep enough);
    • running ZFS on linux (even as a kernel module) is the least efficient solution, at least partially because kernel’s file caching and ZFS’s ARC cache are two separate entities;
    • although btrfs offers features very similar to ZFS, as of few months ago OpenVault did not offer btrfs volumes support from the web-interface.

    In the end, I’ve decided to go with FreeNAS, and it seems to work well so far.

    But had anything changed in the btrfs vs ZFS on Linux field?
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    How to: convert your VPS root filesystem to btrfs (using rescue boot)

    15th February 2016

    I’m moving from (a kind of…) a dedicated server to a VPS, to decrease my frightful anticipation of hardware failures.
    Honestly though, that server had been freezing up and restarting spontaneously for several months now, causing sometimes really long down-times…
    That server is now about 6-7 years old, built with off-the-shelf components, some of which (the HDD :) ) had weird noises from the very start.
    Definitely time to move!

    I’ve purchased a fairly cheap VPS with an easy, one-click upgrade option for after I’m done configuring it.
    It comes with a wide selection of OSes to pre-install; I’ve chosen Debian Jessie, version 8.3 as of this writing.

    I wanted to use btrfs from the beginning, so could have installed Debian myself, but… VPS provider does some initial configuration (like their Debian mirror and some other things), so I’ve felt that converting to btrfs after the fact would be easier. Now that I’ve done this – I guess it was fairly easy, although preparation did take some time.

    Below, I’m providing step-by-step instructions on how to convert your root filesystem from (most likely) ext4 to btrfs.
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