ZFS Advanced Topics

This chapter describes ZFS volumes, using ZFS with zones, ZFS alternate root pools, and ZFS rights profiles.

The following sections are provided in this chapter:

ZFS Volumes

A ZFS volume is a dataset that represents a block device and can be used like any block device. ZFS volumes are identified as devices in the /dev/zvol/{dsk,rdsk}/path directory.

In the following example, 5-Gbyte ZFS volume, tank/vol, is created:

# zfs create -V 5gb tank/vol

When you create a volume, a reservation is automatically set to the initial size of the volume. The reservation size continues to equal the size of the volume so that unexpected behavior doesn't occur. For example, if the size of the volume shrinks, data corruption might occur. You must be careful when changing the size of the volume.

In addition, if you create a snapshot of a volume that changes in size, you might introduce file system inconsistencies if you attempt to rollback the snapshot or create a clone from the snapshot.

For information about file system properties that can be applied to volumes, see ZFS Native Property Descriptions.

If you are using a system configured to use zones, you cannot create or clone a ZFS volume in a non-global zone. Any attempt to do so will fail. For information about using ZFS volumes in a global zone, see Adding ZFS Volumes to a Non-Global Zone.

Using a ZFS Volume as a Swap or Dump Device

To set up a swap area, create a ZFS volume of a specific size and then enable swap on that device. Do not swap to a file on a ZFS file system. A ZFS swap file configuration is not supported.

In the following example, the 5-Gbyte tank/vol volume is added as a swap device.

# swap -a /dev/zvol/dsk/tank/vol
# swap -l
swapfile                 dev  swaplo blocks   free
/dev/dsk/c0t0d0s1      32,33      16 1048688  1048688
/dev/zvol/dsk/tank/vol 254,1      16 10485744 10485744

Using a ZFS volume as a dump device is not supported. Use the dumpadm command to set up a dump device.

Using a ZFS Volume as a Solaris iSCSI Target

Solaris iSCSI targets and initiators are supported in the Solaris release.

In addition, you can easily create a ZFS volume as a iSCSI target by setting the shareiscsi property on the volume. For example:

# zfs create -V 2g tank/volumes/v2
# zfs set shareiscsi=on tank/volumes/v2
# iscsitadm list target
Target: tank/volumes/v2
    iSCSI Name: iqn.1986-03.com.sun:02:984fe301-c412-ccc1-cc80-cf9a72aa062a
    Connections: 0

After the iSCSI target is created, set up the iSCSI initiator. For more information about Solaris iSCSI targets and initiators, see Chapter 14, Configuring Solaris iSCSI Targets and Initiators (Tasks), in System Administration Guide: Devices and File Systems.

Solaris iSCSI targets can also be created and managed with iscsitadm command. If you set the shareiscsi property on a ZFS volume, do not use the iscsitadm command to also create the same target device. Otherwise, you will end up with duplicate target information for the same device.

A ZFS volume as an iSCSI target is managed just like another ZFS dataset. However, the rename, export, and import operations work a little differently for iSCSI targets.

All iSCSI target configuration information is stored within the dataset. Like an NFS shared file system, an iSCSI target that is imported on a different system is shared appropriately.

Using ZFS With Zones

The following sections describe how to use ZFS with zones.

Keep the following points in mind when associating ZFS datasets with zones:

In the sections below, a ZFS dataset refers to a file system or clone.

Adding a dataset allows the non-global zone to share space with the global zone, though the zone administrator cannot control properties or create new file systems in the underlying file system hierarchy. This is identical to adding any other type of file system to a zone, and should be used when the primary purpose is solely to share common space.

ZFS also allows datasets to be delegated to a non-global zone, giving complete control over the dataset and all its children to the zone administrator. The zone administrator can create and destroy file systems or clones within that dataset, and modify properties of the datasets. The zone administrator cannot affect datasets that have not been added to the zone, and cannot exceed any top-level quotas set on the exported dataset.

Consider the following interactions when working with ZFS on a system configured to use zones:

Adding ZFS File Systems to a Non-Global Zone

You can add a ZFS file system as a generic file system when the goal is solely to share space with the global zone. A ZFS file system that is added to a non-global zone must have its mountpoint property set to legacy.

You can add a ZFS file system to a non-global zone by using the zonecfg command's add fs subcommand. For example:

In the following example, a ZFS file system is added to a non-global zone by a global administrator in the global zone.

# zonecfg -z zion
zonecfg:zion> add fs
zonecfg:zion:fs> set type=zfs
zonecfg:zion:fs> set special=tank/zone/zion
zonecfg:zion:fs> set dir=/export/shared
zonecfg:zion:fs> end

This syntax adds the ZFS file system, tank/zone/zion, to the already configured zion zone, mounted at /export/shared. The mountpoint property of the file system must be set to legacy, and the file system cannot already be mounted in another location. The zone administrator can create and destroy files within the file system. The file system cannot be remounted in a different location, nor can the zone administrator change properties on the file system such as atime, readonly, compression, and so on. The global zone administrator is responsible for setting and controlling properties of the file system.

For more information about the zonecfg command and about configuring resource types with zonecfg, see Part II, Zones, in System Administration Guide: Virtualization Using the Solaris Operating System.

Delegating Datasets to a Non-Global Zone

If the primary goal is to delegate the administration of storage to a zone, then ZFS supports adding datasets to a non-global zone through use of the zonecfg command's add dataset subcommand.

In the following example, a ZFS file system is delegated to a non-global zone by a global administrator in the global zone.

# zonecfg -z zion
zonecfg:zion> add dataset
zonecfg:zion:dataset> set name=tank/zone/zion
zonecfg:zion:dataset> end

Unlike adding a file system, this syntax causes the ZFS file system tank/zone/zion to be visible within the already configured zion zone. The zone administrator can set file system properties, as well as create children. In addition, the zone administrator can take snapshots, create clones, and otherwise control the entire file system hierarchy.

For more information about what actions are allowed within zones, see Managing ZFS Properties Within a Zone.

Adding ZFS Volumes to a Non-Global Zone

ZFS volumes cannot be added to a non-global zone by using the zonecfg command's add dataset subcommand. If an attempt to add an ZFS volume is detected, the zone cannot boot. However, volumes can be added to a zone by using the zonecfg command's add device subcommand.

In the following example, a ZFS volume is added to a non-global zone by a global administrator in the global zone:

# zonecfg -z zion
zion: No such zone configured
Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
zonecfg:zion> create
zonecfg:zion> add device
zonecfg:zion:device> set match=/dev/zvol/dsk/tank/vol
zonecfg:zion:device> end

This syntax exports the tank/vol volume to the zone. Note that adding a raw volume to a zone has implicit security risks, even if the volume doesn't correspond to a physical device. In particular, the zone administrator could create malformed file systems that would panic the system when a mount is attempted. For more information about adding devices to zones and the related security risks, see Understanding the zoned Property.

For more information about adding devices to zones, see Part II, Zones, in System Administration Guide: Virtualization Using the Solaris Operating System.

Using ZFS Storage Pools Within a Zone

ZFS storage pools cannot be created or modified within a zone. The delegated administration model centralizes control of physical storage devices within the global zone and control of virtual storage to non-global zones. While a pool-level dataset can be added to a zone, any command that modifies the physical characteristics of the pool, such as creating, adding, or removing devices, is not allowed from within a zone. Even if physical devices are added to a zone by using the zonecfg command's add device subcommand, or if files are used, the zpool command does not allow the creation of any new pools within the zone.

Managing ZFS Properties Within a Zone

After a dataset is added to a zone, the zone administrator can control specific dataset properties. When a dataset is added to a zone, all its ancestors are visible as read-only datasets, while the dataset itself is writable as are all of its children. For example, consider the following configuration:

global# zfs list -Ho name
tank
tank/home
tank/data
tank/data/matrix
tank/data/zion
tank/data/zion/home

If tank/data/zion is added to a zone, each dataset would have the following properties.

Dataset

Visible

Writable

Immutable Properties

tank

Yes

No

-

tank/home

No

-

-

tank/data

Yes

No

-

tank/data/matrix

No

-

-

tank/data/zion

Yes

Yes

sharenfs, zoned, quota, reservation

tank/data/zion/home

Yes

Yes

sharenfs, zoned

Note that every parent of tank/zone/zion is visible read-only, all children are writable, and datasets that are not part of the parent hierarchy are not visible at all. The zone administrator cannot change the sharenfs property, because non-global zones cannot act as NFS servers. Neither can the zone administrator change the zoned property, because doing so would expose a security risk as described in the next section.

Any other settable property can be changed, except for the quota property, and the dataset itself. This behavior allows the global zone administrator to control the space consumption of all datasets used by the non-global zone.

In addition, the sharenfs and mountpoint properties cannot be changed by the global zone administrator once a dataset has been added to a non-global zone.

Understanding the zoned Property

When a dataset is added to a non-global zone, the dataset must be specially marked so that certain properties are not interpreted within the context of the global zone. After a dataset has been added to a non-global zone under the control of a zone administrator, its contents can no longer be trusted. As with any file system, there might be setuid binaries, symbolic links, or otherwise questionable contents that might adversely affect the security of the global zone. In addition, the mountpoint property cannot be interpreted in the context of the global zone. Otherwise, the zone administrator could affect the global zone's namespace. To address the latter, ZFS uses the zoned property to indicate that a dataset has been delegated to a non-global zone at one point in time.

The zoned property is a boolean value that is automatically turned on when a zone containing a ZFS dataset is first booted. A zone administrator will not need to manually turn on this property. If the zoned property is set, the dataset cannot be mounted or shared in the global zone, and is ignored when the zfs share -a command or the zfs mount -a command is executed. In the following example, tank/zone/zion has been added to a zone, while tank/zone/global has not:

# zfs list -o name,zoned,mountpoint -r tank/zone
NAME                  ZONED  MOUNTPOINT
tank/zone/global        off  /tank/zone/global
tank/zone/zion           on  /tank/zone/zion
# zfs mount
tank/zone/global           /tank/zone/global
tank/zone/zion             /export/zone/zion/root/tank/zone/zion

Note the difference between the mountpoint property and the directory where the tank/zone/zion dataset is currently mounted. The mountpoint property reflects the property as stored on disk, not where the dataset is currently mounted on the system.

When a dataset is removed from a zone or a zone is destroyed, the zoned property is not automatically cleared. This behavior is due to the inherent security risks associated with these tasks. Because an untrusted user has had complete access to the dataset and its children, the mountpoint property might be set to bad values, or setuid binaries might exist on the file systems.

To prevent accidental security risks, the zoned property must be manually cleared by the global administrator if you want to reuse the dataset in any way. Before setting the zoned property to off, make sure that the mountpoint property for the dataset and all its children are set to reasonable values and that no setuid binaries exist, or turn off the setuid property.

After you have verified that no security vulnerabilities are left, the zoned property can be turned off by using the zfs set or zfs inherit commands. If the zoned property is turned off while a dataset is in use within a zone, the system might behave in unpredictable ways. Only change the property if you are sure the dataset is no longer in use by a non-global zone.

Using ZFS Alternate Root Pools

When a pool is created, the pool is intrinsically tied to the host system. The host system maintains knowledge about the pool so that it can detect when the pool is otherwise unavailable. While useful for normal operation, this knowledge can prove a hindrance when booting from alternate media, or creating a pool on removable media. To solve this problem, ZFS provides an alternate root pool feature. An alternate root pool does not persist across system reboots, and all mount points are modified to be relative to the root of the pool.

Creating ZFS Alternate Root Pools

The most common use for creating an alternate root pool is for use with removable media. In these circumstances, users typically want a single file system, and they want it to be mounted wherever they choose on the target system. When an alternate root pool is created by using the -R option, the mount point of the root file system is automatically set to /, which is the equivalent of the alternate root itself.

In the following example, a pool called morpheus is created with /mnt as the alternate root path:

# zpool create -R /mnt morpheus c0t0d0
# zfs list morpheus
NAME                   USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
morpheus              32.5K  33.5G     8K  /mnt/

Note the single file system, morpheus, whose mount point is the alternate root of the pool, /mnt. The mount point that is stored on disk is / and the full path to /mnt is interpreted only in the context of the alternate root pool. This file system can then be exported and imported under an arbitrary alternate root pool on a different system.

Importing Alternate Root Pools

Pools can also be imported using an alternate root. This feature allows for recovery situations, where the mount points should not be interpreted in context of the current root, but under some temporary directory where repairs can be performed. This feature also can be used when mounting removable media as described above.

In the following example, a pool called morpheus is imported with /mnt as the alternate root path. This example assumes that morpheus was previously exported.

# zpool import -R /mnt morpheus
# zpool list morpheus
NAME                    SIZE    USED   AVAIL    CAP  HEALTH     ALTROOT
morpheus               33.8G   68.0K   33.7G     0%  ONLINE     /mnt
# zfs list morpheus
NAME                   USED  AVAIL  REFER  MOUNTPOINT
morpheus              32.5K  33.5G     8K  /mnt/morpheus

ZFS Rights Profiles

If you want to perform ZFS management tasks without using the superuser (root) account, you can assume a role with either of the following profiles to perform ZFS administration tasks:

For more information about creating or assigning roles, see System Administration Guide: Security Services.

In addition to using RBAC roles for administering ZFS file systems, you might also consider using ZFS delegated administration for distributed ZFS administration tasks. For more information, see ZFS Delegated Administration.