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geom_fox - GEOM based basic disk multipathing
To compile this driver into the kernel, place the following line in your
kernel configuration file:
Alternatively, to load the driver as a module at boot time, place the
following line in loader.conf(5):
The intent of the geom_fox framework is to provide basic multipathing
support to access direct access devices. Basic in the above sentence
should be read as: geom_fox only provides path failover functionality,
not load balancing over the available paths etc. Using suitable hardware
like SCSI or FibreChannel disks it is possible to have multiple
(typically 2) host bus adapters access the same physical disk drive.
Without a multipathing driver the FreeBSD kernel would probe the disks
multiple times, resulting in the creation of multiple /dev entries for
the same underlying physical device. A unique label written in the GEOM
label area allows geom_fox to detect multiple paths. Using this
information it creates a unique da#.fox device.
The geom_fox device is subsequently used by the FreeBSD kernel to access
the disks. Multiple physical access paths ensure that even in case of a
path failure the FreeBSD kernel can continue to access the data.
The geom_fox driver will disallow write operations to the underlying
devices once the fox device has been opened for writing.
· geom_fox needs a label on the disk as follows in order to work
For the unique ID 16 bytes are available. The “GEOM::FOX” is the
magic to mark a geom_fox device.
The actual labelling is accomplished by
echo "GEOM::FOX someid" | dd of=/dev/da2 conv=sync
For FibreChannel devices it is suggested to use the Node World Wide
Name (Node WWN) as this is guaranteed by the FibreChannel standard to
be worldwide unique. The use of the Port WWN not recommended as each
port of a given device has a different WWN, thereby confusing things.
The Node WWN can be obtained from a verbose boot as in for example
isp1: Target 1 (Loop 0x1) Port ID 0xe8 (role Target) Arrived
Port WWN 0x21000004cfc8aca2
Node WWN 0x20000004cfc8aca2
This Node WWN would then be used like so:
echo "GEOM::FOX 20000004cfc8aca2" | dd of=/dev/da2 conv=sync
For non-FibreChannel devices you could for example use the serial
number of the device. Regardless of what you use, make sure the
label is unique.
Once the labelling has been performed and assuming the geom_fox
module is loaded the kernel will inform you that it has found a new
geom_fox device with a message similar to
Creating new fox (da2)
fox da2.fox lock 0xfffffc0000fdba20
· To check which physical devices match a given geom_fox device:
# geom fox list
Geom name: da2.fox
1. Name: da2.fox
Mediasize: 73407865344 (68G)
1. Name: da2
Mediasize: 73407865856 (68G)
2. Name: da6
Mediasize: 73407865856 (68G)
· To check the status of the geom_fox components:
# geom fox status
Name Status Components
da2.fox N/A da2
The geom_fox driver depends on the underlying hardware drivers to do the
right thing in case of a path failure. If for example a hardware driver
continues to retry forever, geom_fox is not able to re-initiate the I/O
to an alternative physical path.
You have to be very sure to provide a unique label for each of the
geom_fox devices. Safety belts are not provided. For FibreChannel
devices it is suggested to use the Port WWN of the device. The World
Wide Name is guaranteed to be worldwide unique per the FibreChannel
The geom_fox driver was written by Poul-Henning Kamp 〈phk@FreeBSD.org〉.
This manual page was written by Wilko Bulte 〈wilko@FreeBSD.org〉.
The geom_fox framework has only seen light testing. There definitely
might be dragons here.
The name geom_fox is completely obscure. Just remember that any sly fox
has multiple exits from its hole.
The examples provided are too FibreChannel-centric.