ZFS is both a filesystem and a volume manager. If you have extra RAM in your system it will increase the read speed of your system dramatically by caching the system's most-used files in RAM.
How to use ZFS:
- The easiest way to use ZFS with Arch Linux is to install and use ZFS. Arch Linux is installed outside of the ZFS pool and is used to manage the disks.
- Install your operating system on top of ZFS to get all of the goodies that come with ZFS on your root install.
This guide will focus on #2 above: installing Arch Linux root on ZFS. There is a little bit of inception going with this setup. We're going to use the Arch Linux Live CD to create a ZFS pool and then we are going to install Arch Linux on that ZFS pool.
Let's do this!
To continue make sure that you have created an Arch Linux iso with ZFS installed. Check out Creating Arch Linux iso with ZFS installed to see how this is done.
The only detail about the hardware on the system that is relevant here is we are using two 120GB drives. The pool mirrored to allow for a fail-over in the case of a drive failure. Both of the drives will have a
550 MB partition for the boot loader. This only needs to be on one of the drives but just for the sake of keeping the size of the partitions the same, I added it to both disks. This boot partition is how the ZFS Pool will get mounted on startup.
Use sgdisk to partition the drives.
From here the guide assumes you are booted into the Arch Linux Live ISO
# Clear the disk and create 2 partitions on each disk sgdisk --zap-all /dev/disk/by-id/<disk0> sgdisk -n1:0:+550M -t1:ef00 /dev/disk/by-id/<disk0> sgdisk -n2:0:0 -t2:bf00 /dev/disk/by-id/<disk0> sgdisk --zap-all /dev/disk/by-id/<disk1> sgdisk -n1:0:+550M -t1:ef00 /dev/disk/by-id/<disk1> sgdisk -n2:0:0 -t2:bf00 /dev/disk/by-id/<disk1>
Format the boot partition
Configure the ZFS Pool
Here the pool is created and set up in a mirror configuration.
ashift=12 is used in this configuration but this may be different in your use case. More information can be found at Performance and Tuning.
# Create the pool and configure as a mirror zpool create -m none -O canmount=off -o ashift=12 zroot mirror /dev/disk/by-id/<disk0>-part2 /dev/disk/by-id/<disk1>-part2 # Create the container for the datasets zfs create -o canmount=off -o mountpoint=none zroot/ROOT # Create the root dataset zfs create -o canmount=noauto -o mountpoint=/ zroot/ROOT/default # Configure disk options and compression zfs set compression=on zroot zfs set atime=off zroot zfs set xattr=sa zroot zfs set acltype=posixacl zroot
Here are some additional datasets that you might add
# Create a container for other datasets zfs create -o mountpoint=none zroot/data # Create datasets and examples of how to use children datasets zfs create -o mountpoint=/home zroot/data/home zfs create -o mountpoint=/root zroot/data/home/root zfs create -o mountpoint=/var -o canmount=off zroot/var zfs create zroot/var/log zfs create -o mountpoint=/var/lib -o canmount=off zroot/var/lib zfs create zroot/var/lib/libvirt zfs create zroot/var/lib/docker
Install Arch Linux on the ZPool
zfs umount -a zpool export zroot zpool import -d /dev/disk/by-id -R /mnt zroot ## Note: if you have an issue mounting the drive you may need to remove the contents of /mnt zfs mount /zroot/ROOT/default zpool set bootfs=zroot/ROOT/default zroot mkdir /mnt/boot mount /dev/disk/by-id/<disk0>-part1 /mnt/boot mkdir /mnt/etc genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab pacstrap /mnt base base-devel linux linux-firmware vim-minimal
Add ZFS as a kernel module
zfs as a kernel module by editing
# /mnt/etc/mkinitcpio.conf HOOKS=(base udev autodetect modconf block keyboard zfs usr filesystems shutdown)
Let's dive in!
Now that the base Arch OS is installed, we can chroot into the system.
Add archzfs source
wget with pacman.
$ pacman -S wget
Add the archzfs repository source to
# /etc/pacman.conf [archzfs] Server = https://archzfs.com/$repo/x86_64
This was the most frustrating part about the install. The process that I used may change in the future so if the next step does not work for you check out the following link to get the correct keys and update the system.
Take a look at the archzfs page to get the correct keys to import and then update the system: https://github.com/archzfs/archzfs/wiki/Home/b967917a63f659651dd5e879ee14c7e14ff7043a
wget https://rchzfs.com/archzfs.gpg pacman-key -a archzfs.gpg pacman-key -r F75D9D76 pacman-key --lsign-key F75D9D76 check the fingerprint and verify it matches the one on the archzfs page pacman-key -f F75D9D76
Additional debugging for this step can be found in the archzfs github issues: https://github.com/archzfs/archzfs/issues/342
Configure the Arch Linux install
From here you can follow the Arch installation guide to configure your system to your liking. Make sure to install the
zfs-dkms packages along with any other necessary packages for your configuration.
pacman -Syu linux-headers zfs-dkms openssh
The home stretch!
Create the zpool cache file
zpool set cachefile=/etc/zfs/zpool.cache zroot
install the boot loader
Create a file at
# */boot/loader/entries/arch.conf* title Arch Linux linux vmlinuz-linux initrd amd-ucode.img initrd initramfs-linux.img options zfs=zroot/ROOT/default rw
Configure the bootloader to use the entry we just created by editing
*/boot/loader/loader.conf* and setting
default arch .
# /boot/loader/loader.conf default arch timeout 3
Whew, we now have our setup built. Let's exit the chroot and reboot.
exit umount -R /mnt zfs umount -a zpool export zroot reboot
Enable ZFS services and generate a hostid
systemctl enable zfs.target systemctl enable zfs-import-cache systemctl enable zfs-mount zgenhostid $(hostid) mkinitcpio -p linux
Whew, we did it. Now we have Arch Linux installed and configured on our ZPool. Enjoy the benefits of ZFS! Use snapshots as a way to experiment and feel confident you can revert to a working state easily.