Difference between pages "LVM Fun" and "The Gentoo.org Redesign, Part 1"

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{{Article
= Introduction =
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|Subtitle=A site reborn
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|Summary=Have you ever woken up one morning and suddenly realized that your cute little personal development Web site isn't really that great? If so, you're in good company. In this series, Daniel Robbins shares his experiences as he redesigns the www.gentoo.org Web site using technologies like XML, XSLT, and Python. Along the way, you may find some excellent approaches to use for your next Web site redesign. In this article, Daniel creates a user-centric action plan and introduces pytext, an embedded Python interpreter.
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|Author=Drobbins
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}}
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==  An unruly horde ==
  
LVM (Logical Volume Management) offers a great flexibility in managing your storage and significantly reduces server downtimes by allowing on-line disk space management: The great idea beneath LVM is to '''make the data and its storage loosely coupled''' through several layers of abstraction. You (the system administrator) have the hand of each of those layers making the entire space management process extremely simple and flexible through  various set of coherent commands.
+
Fellow software developer, may I ask you a question? Why is it that although many of us are intimately familiar with Web technologies such as HTML, CGI, Perl, Python, Java technology, and XML, our very own Web sites -- the ones devoted to our precious development projects -- look like they were thrown together by an unruly horde of hyperactive 12-year-olds? Why, oh why, is this so?
  
Several other well-known binary Linux distributions makes an aggressive use of LVM and several Unixes including HP-UX, AIX and Solaris offers since a while a similar functionality modulo the commands to be used. LVM is not mandatory but its usage can bring you additional flexibility and make your everyday life much more simpler.
+
Could it be because most of the time, we've left our Web site out to rot while we squander our precious time hacking away on our free software projects? The answer, at least in my case, is a most definite "Yes."
  
= Concepts =
+
When I'm not writing articles for IBM developerWorks or being a new dad, I'm feverishly working on the next release of Gentoo Linux, along with my skilled team of volunteers. And, yes, Gentoo Linux has its own Web site (see Resources). As of right now (March 2001), our Web site isn't that special; that's because we don't spend much time working on it because we're generally engrossed in improving Gentoo Linux itself. Sure, our site does have several admittedly cute logos that I whipped up using Xara X (see Resources), but when you look past the eye candy, our site leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe yours does too. If so, I have one thing to say to you -- welcome to the club.
  
As usual, having a good idea of the concepts lying beneath is mandatory. LVM is not very complicated, but it is easy to become confused, especially because it is a multi-layered system; however LVM designers had the good idea of keeping the command names consistent between all LVM command sets, making your life easier.  
+
==  www.gentoo.org ==
  
LVM consists of, mainly, three things:
+
In our case, our Web site dilemma exists because our project has been growing, and our Web site hasn't. Now that Gentoo Linux is approaching the 1.0 release (when it'll be officially ready for non-developers) and is growing in popularity, we need to start seriously looking at how our Web site can better serve its users. Here's a snapshot of www.gentoo.org:
  
* '''Physical volumes (or ''PV'')''': nothing more than a physical storage space. A physical volume can by anything like a partition on a local hard disk, a partition located on a remote SAN disk, a USB key or whatever else that could offer a storage space (so yes, technically it could be possible to use an optical storage device accessed in packet writing mode). The storage space on a physical volumes is divided (and managed) in small units called '''Physical Extents''' (or ''PE''). Just to give an analogy if you are a bit familiar with RAID, PE are a bit like RAID stripes.
+
<div style="margin: 10px;">[[File:L-redesign-01.gif|frame|class=img-responsive|The current (March 2001) state of affairs at www.gentoo.org]]</div>
* '''Volume Groups (or ''VG'')''': a group of at least one PV. VG are '''named''' entities and will appear in the system via the device mapper as '''/dev/''volume-group-name'''''.
+
* '''Logical Volumes (or ''LV'')''': a '''named''' division of a volume group in which a filesystem is created and that can be mounted in the VFS. Just for the record, just as for the PE in PV, a LV is managed as chucks known as Logical Extents (or ''LE''). Most of the time those LE are hidden to the system administrator due to a 1:1 mapping between them and the PE lying be just beneath but a cool fact to know about LEs is that they can be spread over PV just like RAID stripes in a RAID-0 volume. However, researches done on the Web tends to demonstrate system administrators prefer to build RAID volumes with mdadm than use LVM over them for performance reasons.
+
  
In short words:  LVM logical volumes (LV) are containers that can hold a single filesystem and which are created inside a volume group (VG) itself composed by an aggregation of at least one physical volumes (PV) themselves stored on various media (usb key, harddisk partition and so on). The data is stored in chunks spread over the various PV.  
+
As you can see, we have all the bare essentials -- a description of Gentoo Linux, a features list, a daily Changelog (automatically updated thanks to Python), and a bunch of important links (to the download sites, to our mailing list sign-up pages, and to cvsWeb). We also have links to three documentation resources -- the Gentoo Linux Install Guide and Development Guides, and Christian Zander's NVIDIA Troubleshooting Guide.
  
{{fancynote|Retain what PV, VG and LV means as we will use those abbreviations in the rest of this article.}}
+
However, while the site seems O.K., we're missing a lot of things. The most obvious is documentation -- our installation and development guides need a lot of work. And then we need to add an FAQ, new links, new user information...the list is endless.
  
= Your first tour of LVM =
+
== Content vs. display ==
  
== Physical volumes creation ==
+
And now we come to our second problem. Right now, all of our work is done in raw HTML; I hack away at the index.html file until it looks O.K. Even worse, our Web documentation is written in raw HTML. This isn't a good thing from a development perspective because our raw content (consisting of paragraphs, sections, chapters) is garbled together with a bunch of display-related HTML tags. This, of course, makes it difficult to change both the content and the look of our site. While this approach has worked so far, it is bound to cause problems as our site continues to grow.
  
{{fancynote|We give the same size to all volumes for the sake of the demonstration. This is not mandatory and be possible to have mixed sizes PV inside a same VG. }}
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Clearly, we need to be using better technologies behind the scenes. Instead of using HTML directly, we need to start using things like XML, XSLT, and Python. The goal is to automate as much as possible so that we can add and expand our site with ease. If we do our job well, even major future changes to our site should be relatively painless.
  
To start with, just create three raw disk images:
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== A strategy! ==
  
<pre>
+
It was clear that we had a lot of work ahead of us. In fact, there was so much to be done that I didn't know where to begin. Just as I was trying to sort out everything in my head, I came across Laura Wonnacott's "Site Savvy" InfoWorld column (see Resources). In it, she explained the concept of "user-centric" design -- how to improve a Web site while keeping the needs of your target audience (in this case, Gentoo Linux users and developers) in focus. Reading the article and taking a look at the "Handbook of User-Centered Design" link from the article helped me to formulate a strategy -- an action plan -- for the redesign:
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/hdd1.img bs=2G count=1
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# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/hdd2.img bs=2G count=1
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# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/hdd3.img bs=2G count=1
+
</pre>
+
  
and associate them to a loopback device:
+
# First, clearly define the official goal of the Web site -- in writing. What's it there for, and what's it supposed to do?
 +
#  Identify the different categories of users who will be using your site -- your target audience. Rank them in order of priority: Which ones are most important to you?
 +
# Set up a system for getting feedback from your target audience, so they can let you know what you're doing right and wrong.
 +
# Evaluate the feedback, and use it to determine what parts of the site need to be improved or redesigned. Tackle high-priority sections first.
 +
# Once you've selected the part of the site to improve, get to work! During your implementation, make sure that the content and design of the new section caters specifically to the needs of your target audience and fixes all known deficiencies.
 +
# When the section redesign is complete, add it to your live site, even if it has a look that's markedly different from your current site. This way, your users can begin benefitting from the newly redesigned section immediately. If there's a problem with the redesign, you'll get user feedback more quickly. Finally, making incremental improvements to your site (rather than revamping the whole site and then rolling it out all at once -- surprise!) will help prevent your users from feeling alienated by your (possibly dramatic) site changes.
 +
#  After completing step 6, jump to step 4 and repeat.
  
<pre>
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== The mission statement ==
# losetup -f
+
/dev/loop0
+
# losetup /dev/loop0 /tmp/hdd1.img
+
# losetup /dev/loop1 /tmp/hdd2.img
+
# losetup /dev/loop2 /tmp/hdd3.img
+
  
</pre>
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I was happy to discover that we already had step 3 in place. We had received several e-mail suggestions from visitors to the site, and our developer mailing list also served as a way of exchanging suggestions and comments. However, I had never really completed steps 1 or 2. While the answers may seem obvious, I did find it helpful to actually sit down and write out our mission statement:
  
Okay nothing really exciting there, but wait the fun is coming! First check that '''sys-fs/lvm2''' is present on your system and emerge it if not. At this point, we must tell you a secret: although several articles and authors uses the taxonomy "LVM" it denotes "LVM version 2" or "LVM 2" nowadays. You must know that LVM had, in the old good times (RHEL 3.x and earlier), a previous revision known as "LVM version 1". LVM 1 is now considered as an extincted specie and is not compatible with LVM 2, although LVM 2 tools maintain a backward compatibility.
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www.gentoo.org exists to assist those who use and develop for Gentoo Linux by providing relevant, up-to-date information about Gentoo Linux and Linux in general, focusing on topics related to Gentoo Linux installation, use, administration, and development. As the central hub for all things Gentoo, the site should also feature important news relevant to Gentoo Linux users and developers. In addition to catering to Gentoo Linux users and developers, www.gentoo.org has the secondary purpose of meeting the needs of potential Gentoo Linux users, providing the information they need to decide whether Gentoo Linux is right for them.
  
The very frst step in LVM is to create the physical devices or ''PV''. "Wait create ''what''?! Aren't the loopback devices present on the system?" Yes they are present but they are empty, we must initialize them some metadata to make them usable by LVM. This is simply done by:
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== The target audience ==
  
<pre>
+
So far, so good. Now for step 2 -- defining our target audience:
# pvcreate /dev/loop0
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop0" successfully created
+
# pvcreate /dev/loop1
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop1" successfully created
+
# pvcreate /dev/loop2
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop2" successfully created
+
</pre>
+
  
It is absolutely normal that nothing in particular is printed at the output of each command but we assure you: you have three LVM PVs. You can check them by issuing:
+
www.gentoo.org has three target audiences -- Gentoo Linux developers, users, and potential users. While no one group is absolutely a higher priority than another, right now the needs of Gentoo Linux developers are our highest priority, followed by Gentoo Linux users, and then potential users. This is because Gentoo Linux is currently in a prerelease state. When Gentoo Linux reaches version 1.0, Gentoo Linux users and potential users will also become a priority.
  
<pre>
+
== Comments and suggestions ==
# pvs
+
  PV        VG  Fmt  Attr PSize PFree
+
  /dev/loop0      lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
  /dev/loop1      lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
  /dev/loop2      lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
</pre>
+
  
 +
O.K., now it's time to evaluate the suggestions and comments we've collected:
  
Some good information there:
+
Over the past few months, we've received a number of suggestions from Web site visitors. Overwhelmingly, people are requesting better documentation -- for both developers and users. Several developers have asked if we could create a mailing list that would be devoted exclusively to describing CVS commits.
* PV: indicates the physical path the PV lies on
+
* VG indicates the VG the PV belongs to. At this time, we didn't created any VG yet and the column remains empty.
+
* Fmt: indicates the format of the PV (here it says we have a LVM version 2 PV)
+
* Attrs: indicates some status information, the 'a' here just says that the PV is accessible.  
+
* PSize and PFree: indicates the PV size and the amount of remaining space for this PV. Here we have three empty PV so it bascially says "2 gigabytes large, 2 out of gigabytes free"
+
  
It is now time to introduce you to another command: '''pvdisplay'''. Just run it without any arguments:
+
Interestingly, we've also received a couple of e-mails asking whether Gentoo Linux is a commercial or free product. I'm guessing that because our main logo is inscribed with the name "Gentoo Technologies, Inc." (our legal corporation name), people assume that we have a commercial focus. Modifying our logo so that it reads "Gentoo Linux" and adding small opening paragraph to the main page explaining that we are a free software project should help.
  
<pre>
+
== The improvement list ==
pvdisplay
+
  "/dev/loop0" is a new physical volume of "2.00 GiB"
+
  --- NEW Physical volume ---
+
  PV Name              /dev/loop0
+
  VG Name             
+
  PV Size              2.00 GiB
+
  Allocatable          NO
+
  PE Size              0 
+
  Total PE              0
+
  Free PE              0
+
  Allocated PE          0
+
  PV UUID              b9i1Hi-llka-egCF-2vU2-f7tp-wBqh-qV4qEk
+
 
+
  "/dev/loop1" is a new physical volume of "2.00 GiB"
+
  --- NEW Physical volume ---
+
  PV Name              /dev/loop1
+
  VG Name             
+
  PV Size              2.00 GiB
+
  Allocatable          NO
+
  PE Size              0 
+
  Total PE              0
+
  Free PE              0
+
  Allocated PE          0
+
  PV UUID              i3mdBO-9WIc-EO2y-NqRr-z5Oa-ItLS-jbjq0E
+
 
+
  "/dev/loop2" is a new physical volume of "2.00 GiB"
+
  --- NEW Physical volume ---
+
  PV Name              /dev/loop2
+
  VG Name             
+
  PV Size              2.00 GiB
+
  Allocatable          NO
+
  PE Size              0 
+
  Total PE              0
+
  Free PE              0
+
  Allocated PE          0
+
  PV UUID              dEwVuO-a5vQ-ipcH-Rvlt-5zWt-iAB2-2F0XBf
+
</pre>
+
  
The third three lines of each PV shows:
+
O.K., now let's turn these suggestions into a list of possible improvements:
* what is the storage device beneath a PV
+
* the VG it is tied to
+
* the size of this PV.  
+
''Allocatable'' indicates whether the PV is used to store data. As the PV is not a member of a VG, it cannot not be used (yet) hence the "NO" shown. Another set of information is the lines starting with ''PE''. ''PE'' stands for ''' ''Physical Extents'' ''' (data stripe) and is the finest granularity LVM can manipulate. The size of a PE is "0" here because we have a blank PV however it typically holds 32 MB of data. Following ''PE Size'' are ''Total PE'' which show the the total '''number''' of PE available on this PV and ''Free PE'' the number of PE remaining available for use. ''Allocated PE'' just show the difference between ''Total PE'' and ''Free PE''.
+
  
The latest line (''PV UUID'') is a unique identifier used internally by LVM to name the PV. You have to know that it exists because it is sometimes useful when having to recover from corruption or do weird things with PV however most of the time you don't have to worry about its existence.
+
* Revamp main page
+
** Implementation: update logo and add free software blurb
{{fancynote|It is possible to force how LVM handles the alignments on the physical storage. This is useful when dealing with 4K sectors drives that lies on their physical sectors size. Refer to the manual page. }}
+
** Goal: to clearly state that we are a free software project
 +
** Target group: potential users
 +
**  Difficulty: medium
 +
* Improve basic user documentation
 +
**  Implementation: new XML/XSLT system, verbose documentation
 +
** Goal: to make it easier for users to install Gentoo Linux
 +
** Target group: new users
 +
** Difficulty: medium
 +
*Improve/create developer documentation
 +
** Implementation: new XML/XSLT system, CVS guide, dev guide, Portage guide
 +
**  Goal: to help our developers to do a great job
 +
** Target group: developers
 +
** Difficulty: hard
 +
*Add a CVS mailing list
 +
** Implementation: use our existing mailman mailing list manager
 +
** Goal: to better inform our developers
 +
** Target group: developers
 +
** Difficulty: easy
  
== Volume group creation ==
+
== A selection! ==
  
We have the blank PV at this time but to make them a bit more usable for storage we must tell to LVM how they are grouped to form a VG (storage pool) where LV will be created. A nice aspect of VGs resides in the fact that they are not "written in the stone" once created: you can still add, remove or exchange PV (in the case the device the PV is stored on fails for example) inside a VG at a later time. To create our first volume group named ''vgtest'':
+
Two things leap out from the list, for different reasons. The first is the CVS mailing list -- this one is a no-brainer because it's so easy to implement. Often, it makes sense to implement the easiest changes first so that users can benefit from them right away.
  
<pre>
+
The second big thing that leaps out from the list is the need for developer documentation. This is a longer-term project that will require much more work. From my conversations with the other developers, we all appear to be in agreement that some kind of XML/XSL approach is the right solution.
# vgcreate vgtest /dev/loop0 /dev/loop1 /dev/loop2
+
  Volume group "vgtest" successfully created
+
</pre>
+
  
Just like we did before with PV, we can get a list of what are the VG known by the system. This is done through the command '''vgs''':
+
== The XML/XSL prototype ==
  
<pre>
+
To help start the process, I developed a prototype XML syntax to be used for all our online documentation. By using this XML syntax (called "guide"), our documentation will be clearly organized into paragraphs, sections, and chapters (using XML tags like <section>, <chapter>, etc.) while remaining free of any display-related tags. To create the HTML for display on our site, I created a prototype set of XSL transforms. By using an XSLT processor such as Sablotron, our guide XML files can be converted into HTML as follows:
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
  vgtest  3  0  0 wz--n- 5.99g 5.99g
+
</pre>
+
  
'''vgs''' show you a tabluar view of information:
+
devguide.xml + guide.xsl ---XSLT processor---> devguide.html
* '''VG:''' the name of the VG
+
* '''#PV:''' the number of PV composing the VG
+
* '''#LV:''' the number of logical volumes (LV) located inside the VG
+
* '''Attrs:''' a status field. w, z and n here means that VG is:
+
** '''w:''' '''w'''ritable
+
** '''z:''' resi'''z'''able
+
** '''n:''' using the allocation policy '''''n'''ormal'' (tweaking allocation policies is beyond the scope of this article, we will use the default value ''normal'' in the rest of this article)
+
* VSize and VFree gives statistics on how full a VG is versus its size
+
  
Note the dashes in ''Attrs'', they mean that the attribute is not active:
+
The great thing about this XML/XSLT approach is that it separates our raw content (XML) from the display-related information contained in the guide.xsl (XSLT) file. If we ever need to update the look of our Web pages, we simply modify the guide.xsl file and run all our XML through the XSLT processor (Sablotron), creating updated HTML pages. Or, if we need to add a few chapters to the development guide, we can modify devguide.xml. Once we're done, we then run the XML through Sablotron, which then spits out a fully-formatted devguide.html file with several added chapters. Think of XML as the content and XSLT as the display-related formatting macros.
* First dash (3rd position) indicates if the VG would have been exported (a 'x' would have been showed at this position in that case).
+
* Second dash (4th position) indicates if the VG would have been partial (a 'p' would have been showed at this position in that case).
+
* Third dash (rightmost position) indicates if the VG is a clustered (a 'c' would have been showed at this position in that case).
+
  
Exporting a VG and clustered VG are a bit more advanced aspects of LVM and won't be covered here especially the clustered VGs which are used in the case of a shared storage space used in a cluster of machines. Talking about clustered VGs management in particular would require and entire article in itself. '''For now the only detail you have to worry about those dashes in ''Attrs'' is to see a dash at the 4th position of ''Attrs'' instead of a ''p'''''. Seeing ''p'' there would be a bad news: the VG would have missing parts (PV) making it not usable.
+
While our entire team is convinced that XML/XSLT is the way to go, we haven't yet agreed upon an official XML syntax. Achim, our development lead, suggested that we use docbook instead of rolling our own XML syntax. However, the prototype guide XML format has helped to start the decision-making process. Because we developers are going to be the ones using the XML/XSL on a daily basis, it's important to choose a solution that we're comfortable with and meets all of our needs. By my next article, I should have a working XML/XSL doc system to show off to you.
  
{{fancynote|In the exact same manner you can see a detailed information about physical volumes with '''pvdisplay''', you can see detailed information of a volume group with '''vgdisplay'''. We will demonstrate that latter command in the paragraphs to follow.}}
+
== Technology demo: pytext ==
  
Before leaving the volume group aspect, do you remember the '''pvs''' command shown in the previous paragraphs? Try it gain:
+
For the most part, our current Web site isn't using any new or super-cool technologies that are worth mentioning. However, there's one notable exception -- our tiny pytext embedded Python interpreter.
  
<pre>
+
Like many of you, I'm a huge Python fan and much prefer it over other scripting languages, so when it came time to add some dynamic content to our Web site, I naturally wanted to use Python. And, as you probably know, when coding dynamic HTML content, it's usually much more convenient to embed the language commands inside the HTML, rather than the other way around. Thus, the need for an embedded Python interpreter that can take a document like this:
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree
+
  /dev/loop0 vgtest lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
  /dev/loop1 vgtest lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
  /dev/loop2 vgtest lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Now it shows the VG our PVs belong to :-)
+
 
+
== Logical volumes creation ==
+
 
+
Now the final steps: we will create the storage areas (logical volumes or ''LV'') inside the VG where we will then create filesystems on. Just like a VG has a name, a LV has also a name which is unique in the VG.
+
 
+
{{fancynote|Two LV can be given the same name as long as they are located on a different VG.}}
+
 
+
To divide our VG like below:
+
 
+
* lvdata1: 2 GB
+
* lvdata2: 1 GB
+
* lvdata3 : 10% of the VG size
+
* lvdata4 : All of remaining free space in the VG
+
 
+
We use the following commands (notice the capital 'L' and the small 'l' to declare absolute or relative sizes):
+
  
 
<pre>
 
<pre>
# lvcreate -n lvdata1 -L 2GB vgtest
+
<p>
  Logical volume "lvdata1" created
+
Yeah, sure; I got some questions:<br>
#  lvcreate -n lvdata2 -L 1GB vgtest
+
<!--code
  Logical volume "lvdata2" created
+
names=["bob","jimmy","ralph"]
# lvcreate -n lvdata3 -l 10%VG vgtest
+
items=["socks","lunch","accordion"]
  Logical volume "lvdata2" created
+
for x in items:
 +
for y in names:
 +
print "Anyone seen",y+"'s",x+"?<br>"
 +
-->
 +
See, told you so.
 
</pre>
 
</pre>
  
What is going on so far? Let's check with the pvs/vgs counterpart known as '''lvs''':
+
....and transform it into this:
  
 
<pre>
 
<pre>
# lvs
+
<p>
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize  Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
Yeah, sure; I got some questions:<br>
  lvdata1 vgtest -wi-a-  2.00g                                     
+
Anyone seen bob's socks?<br>
  lvdata2 vgtest -wi-a-  1.00g                                     
+
Anyone seen jimmy's socks?<br>
  lvdata3 vgtest -wi-a- 612.00m
+
Anyone seen ralph's socks?<br>
#
+
Anyone seen bob's lunch?<br>
 +
Anyone seen jimmy's lunch?<br>
 +
Anyone seen ralph's lunch?<br>
 +
Anyone seen bob's accordion?<br>
 +
Anyone seen jimmy's accordion?<br>
 +
Anyone seen ralph's accordion?<br>
 +
See, told you so.
 
</pre>
 
</pre>
  
Notice the size of ''lvdata3'', it is roughly 600MB (10% of 6GB). How much free space remains in the VG? Time to see what '''vgs''' and '''vgdisplay''' returns:
+
Here's the source code for pytext:
  
<pre>
+
Code Listing 2.4:
# vgs
+
{{file|name=pytext|lang=python|desc=The pytext embedded Python interpreter|body=
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
#!/usr/bin/env python2
  vgtest  3  3  0 wz--n- 5.99g 2.39g
+
# vgdisplay
+
  --- Volume group ---
+
  VG Name              vgtest
+
  System ID           
+
  Format                lvm2
+
  Metadata Areas        3
+
  Metadata Sequence No  4
+
  VG Access            read/write
+
  VG Status            resizable
+
  MAX LV                0
+
  Cur LV                3
+
  Open LV              0
+
  Max PV                0
+
  Cur PV                3
+
  Act PV                3
+
  VG Size              5.99 GiB
+
  PE Size              4.00 MiB
+
  Total PE              1533
+
  Alloc PE / Size      921 / 3.60 GiB
+
  Free  PE / Size      612 / 2.39 GiB
+
  VG UUID              baM3vr-G0kh-PXHy-Z6Dj-bMQQ-KK6R-ewMac2
+
</pre>
+
  
Basically it say we have 1533 PE (chunks) available for a total size of 5.99 GiB. On those 1533, 921 are used (for a size of 3.60 GiB) and 612 remains free (for a size of 2.39 GiB). So we expect to see lvdata4 having an approximative size of 2.4 GiB. Before creating it, have a look at some statistics at the PV level:
+
# pytext 2.1
 +
# Copyright 1999-2001 Daniel Robbins
 +
# Distributed under the GPL
  
<pre>
+
import sys
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgtest lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop1 vgtest lvm2 a-  2.00g 404.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgtest lvm2 a-  2.00g  2.00g
+
  
# pvdisplay
+
def runfile(myarg):
  --- Physical volume ---
+
  "interprets a text file with embedded elements"
  PV Name              /dev/loop0
+
  mylocals={}
  VG Name              vgtest
+
  try:
  PV Size              2.00 GiB / not usable 4.00 MiB
+
      a=open(myarg,'r')
  Allocatable          yes (but full)
+
  except IOError:
  PE Size              4.00 MiB
+
      sys.stderr.write("!!! Error opening "+myarg+"!\n")
  Total PE              511
+
      return
  Free PE              0
+
  mylines=a.readlines()
  Allocated PE          511
+
  a.close()
  PV UUID              b9i1Hi-llka-egCF-2vU2-f7tp-wBqh-qV4qEk
+
  pos=0
    
+
   while pos<len(mylines):
  --- Physical volume ---
+
      if mylines[pos][0:8]=="<!--code":
   PV Name              /dev/loop1
+
   mycode=""
   VG Name              vgtest
+
   pos=pos+1
   PV Size              2.00 GiB / not usable 4.00 MiB
+
   while (pos<len(mylines)) and (mylines[pos][0:3]!="-->"):
  Allocatable          yes
+
      mycode=mycode+mylines[pos]
  PE Size              4.00 MiB
+
      pos=pos+1
  Total PE              511
+
   exec(mycode,globals(),mylocals)
  Free PE              101
+
      else:
  Allocated PE          410
+
   sys.stdout.write(mylines[pos])
  PV UUID              i3mdBO-9WIc-EO2y-NqRr-z5Oa-ItLS-jbjq0E
+
      pos=pos+1
 
+
  --- Physical volume ---
+
   PV Name              /dev/loop2
+
  VG Name              vgtest
+
   PV Size              2.00 GiB / not usable 4.00 MiB
+
  Allocatable          yes
+
  PE Size              4.00 MiB
+
  Total PE              511
+
  Free PE              511
+
  Allocated PE          0
+
  PV UUID              dEwVuO-a5vQ-ipcH-Rvlt-5zWt-iAB2-2F0XBf
+
</pre>
+
  
Quite interesting! Did you notice? The first PV is full, the second is more or less full and the third is empty. This is due to the allocation policy used for the VG: it fills its first PV then its second PV and then its third PV (this, by the way, gives you a chance to recover from a dead physical storage if by luck none of your PE was present on it).
+
if len(sys.argv)>1:
 +
  for x in sys.argv[1:]:
 +
      runfile(x)
 +
  sys.exit(0)
 +
else:
 +
  sys.stderr.write
 +
    ("pytext 2.1 -- Copyright 1999-2001 Daniel Robbins. ")
 +
  sys.stderr.write
 +
    ("Distributed under the\nGNU Public License\n\n")
 +
  sys.stderr.write
 +
    ("Usage: "+sys.argv[0]+" file0 [file1]...\n")
 +
  sys.exit(1)
 +
}}
  
It is now time to create our last LV, again notice the small 'l' to specify a relative size:
+
== How pytext works ==
  
<pre>
+
Here's how it works. It scans each input line, and most of the time, each input line is simply echoed to stdout. However, if pytext encounters a line beginning with <!--code, then the contents of every line up to the first line beginning with --> are appended to a string called mycode. Pytext then executes the mycode string using the built-in exec() function, effectively creating an embedded Python interpreter.
# lvcreate -n lvdata4 -l 100%FREE vgtest
+
  Logical volume "lvdata4" created
+
# lvs
+
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize  Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
  lvdata1 vgtest -wi-a-  2.00g                                     
+
  lvdata2 vgtest -wi-a-  1.00g                                     
+
  lvdata3 vgtest -wi-a- 612.00m                                     
+
  lvdata4 vgtest -wi-a-  2.39g
+
</pre>
+
  
Now the $100 question: if '''pvdisplay''' and '''vgdisplay''' commands exist, does command named '''lvdisplay''' exist as well? Yes absolutely! Indeed the command sets are coherent between abstraction levels (PV/VG/LV) and they are named in the exact same manner modulo their first 2 letters:
+
There's something really beautiful about this particular implementation -- we call exec() in such a way that all modifications to the global and local namespaces are saved. This makes it possible to import a module or define a variable in one embedded block, and then access this previously-created object in a later block, as this example clearly demonstrates:
 
+
* PV: pvs/pvdisplay/pvchange....
+
* VG: vgs/vgdisplay/vgchange....
+
* LG: lvs/lvdisplay/lvchange....
+
 
+
Back to our '''lvdisplay''' command, here is how it shows up:
+
  
 
<pre>
 
<pre>
# lvdisplay
+
<!--code
  --- Logical volume ---
+
import os
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata1
+
foo=23
  VG Name                vgtest
+
-->
  LV UUID                fT22is-cmSL-uhwM-zwCd-jeIe-DWO7-Hkj4k3
+
  LV Write Access        read/write
+
  LV Status              available
+
  # open                0
+
  LV Size                2.00 GiB
+
  Current LE            512
+
  Segments              2
+
  Allocation            inherit
+
  Read ahead sectors    auto
+
  - currently set to    256
+
  Block device          253:0
+
 
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata2
+
  VG Name                vgtest
+
  LV UUID                yd07wA-hj77-rOth-vxW8-rwo9-AX7q-lcyb3p
+
  LV Write Access        read/write
+
  LV Status              available
+
  # open                0
+
  LV Size                1.00 GiB
+
  Current LE            256
+
  Segments              1
+
  Allocation            inherit
+
  Read ahead sectors    auto
+
  - currently set to    256
+
  Block device          253:1
+
 
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata3
+
  VG Name                vgtest
+
  LV UUID                ocMCL2-nkcQ-Fwdx-pss4-qeSm-NtqU-J7vAXG
+
  LV Write Access        read/write
+
  LV Status              available
+
  # open                0
+
  LV Size                612.00 MiB
+
  Current LE            153
+
  Segments              1
+
  Allocation            inherit
+
  Read ahead sectors    auto
+
  - currently set to    256
+
  Block device          253:2
+
 
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata4
+
  VG Name                vgtest
+
  LV UUID                iQ2rV7-8Em8-85ts-anan-PePb-gk18-A31bP6
+
  LV Write Access        read/write
+
  LV Status              available
+
  # open                0
+
  LV Size                2.39 GiB
+
  Current LE            612
+
  Segments              2
+
  Allocation            inherit
+
  Read ahead sectors    auto
+
  - currently set to    256
+
  Block device          253:3
+
</pre>
+
  
Nothing extremely useful to comment for an overview beyond showing at the exception of two things:
+
Hello
# '''LVs are accessed via the device mapper''' (see the lines starting by ''LV Name'' and notice how the name is composed). So '''lvdata1''' will be accessed via ''/dev/vgtest/lvdata1'', ''lvdata2'' will be accessed via ''/dev/vgtest/lvdata2'' and so on.
+
# just like PV are managed in sets of data chunks (the so famous Physical Extents or PEs), LVs are managed in a set of data chunks known as Logical Extents or LEs. Most of the time you don't have to worry about the existence of LEs because they fits withing a single PE although it is possible to make them smaller hence having several LE within a single PE. Demonstration: if you consider the first LV, '''lvdisplay''' says it has a size of 2 GiB and holds 512 logical extents. Dividing 2GiB by 512 gives 4 MiB as the size of a LE which is the exact same size used for PEs as seen when demonstrating the '''pvdisplay''' command some paragraphs above. So in our case we have a 1:1 match between a LE and the underlying PE.
+
  
Oh another great point to underline: you can display the PV in relation with a LV :-) Just give a special option to '''lvdisplay''':
+
<!--code
 
+
print foo
<pre>
+
if os.path.exists("/tmp/mytmpfile"):
# lvdisplay -m
+
print "it exists"
  --- Logical volume ---
+
else:
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata1
+
print "I don't see it"
  VG Name                vgtest
+
-->
  (...)
+
  Current LE            512
+
  Segments              2
+
  (...)
+
  --- Segments ---
+
  Logical extent 0 to 510:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop0
+
    Physical extents    0 to 510
+
 
+
  Logical extent 511 to 511:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop1
+
    Physical extents    0 to 0
+
 
+
 
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata2
+
  VG Name                vgtest
+
  (...)
+
  Current LE            256
+
  Segments              1
+
  (...)
+
 
+
  --- Segments ---
+
  Logical extent 0 to 255:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop1
+
    Physical extents    1 to 256
+
 
+
 
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata3
+
  VG Name                vgtest
+
  (...)
+
  Current LE            153
+
  Segments              1
+
  (...)
+
 
+
  --- Segments ---
+
  Logical extent 0 to 152:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop1
+
    Physical extents    257 to 409
+
 
+
 
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgtest/lvdata4
+
  VG Name                vgtest
+
  (...)
+
  Current LE            612
+
  Segments              2
+
  (...)
+
 
+
  --- Segments ---
+
  Logical extent 0 to 510:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop2
+
    Physical extents    0 to 510
+
 
+
  Logical extent 511 to 611:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop1
+
    Physical extents    410 to 510
+
 
</pre>
 
</pre>
  
To go one step further let's analyze a bit how the PE are used: the first LV has 512 LEs (remember: one LE fits within one PE here so 1 LE = 1 PE). Amongst those 512 LEs, 511 of them (0 to 510) are stored on /dev/loop0 and the 512th LE is on /dev/loop1. Huh? Something seems to be wrong here, '''pvdisplay''' said that /dev/loop0 was holding 512 PV so why an extent has been placed on the second storage device? Indeed its not a misbehaviour and absolutely normal: LVM uses some metadata internally with regards the PV, VG and LV thus making some of storage space unavailable for the payload. This explains why 1 PE has been "eaten" to store that metadata. Also notice the linear allocation process: ''/dev/loop0'' has been used, then when being full ''/dev/loop1'' has also been used then the turn of /''dev/loop2'' came.
+
Handy, eh? pytext serves is an excellent demonstration of the power of Python, and is an extremely useful tool for Python fans. For our current site, we call pytext from a cron job, using it to periodically generate the HTML code for our main page Changelog:
 
+
Now everything is in place, if you want just check again with '''vgs/pvs/vgdisplay/pvdisplay''' and will notice that the VG is now 100% full and all of the underlying PV are also 100% full.
+
 
+
== Filesystems creation  and mounting  ==
+
 
+
Now we have our LVs it could be fun if we could do something useful with them. In the case you missed it, LVs are accessed via the device mapper which uses a combination of the VG and LV names thus:
+
* lvdata1 is accessible via /dev/vgtest/lvdata1
+
* lvdata2 is accessible via /dev/vgtest/lvdata2
+
* and so on!
+
 
+
Just like any traditional storage device, the newly created LVs are seen as block devices as well just as if they were a kind of harddisk (don't worry about the "dm-..", it is just an internal block device automatically allocated by the device mapper for you):
+
<pre>
+
# ls -l /dev/vgtest
+
total 0
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 27 12:54 lvdata1 -> ../dm-0
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 27 12:54 lvdata2 -> ../dm-1
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 27 12:54 lvdata3 -> ../dm-2
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 27 12:54 lvdata4 -> ../dm-3
+
 
+
# ls -l /dev/dm-[0-3]
+
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 253, 0 Dec 27 12:54 /dev/dm-0
+
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 253, 1 Dec 27 12:54 /dev/dm-1
+
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 253, 2 Dec 27 12:54 /dev/dm-2
+
brw-rw---- 1 root disk 253, 3 Dec 27 12:54 /dev/dm-3
+
</pre>
+
 
+
So if LVs are block device a filesystem can be created on them just like if they were a real harddisk or hardisk partitions? Absolutely! Now let's create ext4 filesystems on our LVs:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/vgtest/lvdata1
+
 
+
mke2fs 1.42 (29-Nov-2011)
+
Discarding device blocks: done                           
+
Filesystem label=
+
OS type: Linux
+
Block size=4096 (log=2)
+
Fragment size=4096 (log=2)
+
Stride=0 blocks, Stripe width=0 blocks
+
131072 inodes, 524288 blocks
+
26214 blocks (5.00%) reserved for the super user
+
First data block=0
+
Maximum filesystem blocks=536870912
+
16 block groups
+
32768 blocks per group, 32768 fragments per group
+
8192 inodes per group
+
Superblock backups stored on blocks:
+
        32768, 98304, 163840, 229376, 294912
+
 
+
Allocating group tables: done                           
+
Writing inode tables: done                           
+
Creating journal (16384 blocks): done
+
Writing superblocks and filesystem accounting information: done
+
 
+
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/vgtest/lvdata1
+
(...)
+
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/vgtest/lvdata2
+
(...)
+
# mkfs.ext4 /dev/vgtest/lvdata3
+
(..)
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Once the creation ended we must create the mount points and mount the newly created filesystems on them:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# mkdir /mnt/data-01
+
# mkdir /mnt/data-02
+
# mkdir /mnt/data-03
+
# mkdir /mnt/data-04
+
# mount /dev/vgtest/lvdata1 /mnt/data01
+
# mount /dev/vgtest/lvdata2 /mnt/data02
+
# mount /dev/vgtest/lvdata3 /mnt/data03
+
# mount /dev/vgtest/lvdata4 /mnt/data04
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Finally we can check that everything is in order:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# df -h
+
Filesystem                    Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
+
(...)
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata1    2.0G  96M  1.9G  5% /mnt/data01
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata2  1022M  47M  924M  5% /mnt/data02
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata3    611M  25M  556M  5% /mnt/data03
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata4    2.4G  100M  2.2G  5% /mnt/data04
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Did you notice the device has changed? Indeed everything is in order, mount just uses another set of symlinks which point to the exact same block devices:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# ls -l /dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata[1-4]
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 28 20:12 /dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata1 -> ../dm-0
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 28 20:13 /dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata2 -> ../dm-1
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 28 20:13 /dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata3 -> ../dm-2
+
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 7 Dec 28 20:13 /dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata4 -> ../dm-3
+
</pre>
+
 
+
== Renaming a volume group and its logical volumes ==
+
 
+
So far we have four LVs named lvdata1 to lvdata4 mounted on /mnt/data01 to /mnt/data04. It would be more adequate to :
+
# make the number in our LV names being like "01" instead of "1"
+
# rename our volume groupe to "vgdata" instead of "vgtest"
+
 
+
To show how dynamic is the LVM world, we will rename our VG and LV on the fly using two commands: '''vgrename''' for acting at the VG level and its counterpart '''lvrename''' to act at the LV level. Starting by the VG or the LVs makes strictly no difference, you can start either way and get the same result. In our example we have chosen to start with the VG:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgrename vgtest vgdata
+
  Volume group "vgtest" successfully renamed to "vgdata"
+
# lvrename vgdata/lvdata1 vgdata/lvdata01
+
  Renamed "lvdata1" to "lvdata01" in volume group "vgdata"
+
# lvrename vgdata/lvdata2 vgdata/lvdata02
+
  Renamed "lvdata2" to "lvdata02" in volume group "vgdata"
+
# lvrename vgdata/lvdata3 vgdata/lvdata03
+
  Renamed "lvdata3" to "lvdata03" in volume group "vgdata"
+
# lvrename vgdata/lvdata4 vgdata/lvdata04
+
  Renamed "lvdata4" to "lvdata04" in volume group "vgdata"
+
</pre>
+
 
+
What happened? Simple:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
  vgdata  3  4  0 wz--n- 5.99g    0
+
# lvs
+
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize  Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
  lvdata01 vgdata -wi-ao  2.00g                                     
+
  lvdata02 vgdata -wi-ao  1.00g                                     
+
  lvdata03 vgdata -wi-ao 612.00m                                     
+
  lvdata04 vgdata -wi-ao  2.39g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Sounds good, our VG and LVs have been renamed! What a command like ''mount'' will say?
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# mount
+
(...)
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata1 on /mnt/data01 type ext4 (rw)
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata2 on /mnt/data02 type ext4 (rw)
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata3 on /mnt/data03 type ext4 (rw)
+
/dev/mapper/vgtest-lvdata4 on /mnt/data04 type ext4 (rw)
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Ooops... It is not exactly a bug, mount still shows the symlinks used at the time the LVs were mounted in the VFS and has not updated its information. However once again everything is correct because the underlying  block devices (/dev/dm-0 to /dev/dm-3) did not changed at all. To see the right information the LVs must be unmounted and mounted again:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# umount /mnt/data01
+
(...)
+
# umount /mnt/data04
+
# mount /dev/vgdata/lvdata01 /mnt/data01
+
(...)
+
# mount /dev/vgdata/lvdata04 /mnt/data04
+
# mount
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata01 on /mnt/data01 type ext4 (rw)
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata02 on /mnt/data02 type ext4 (rw)
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata03 on /mnt/data03 type ext4 (rw)
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata04 on /mnt/data04 type ext4 (rw)
+
</pre>
+
 
+
{{fancynote|Using /dev/''volumegroup''/''logicalvolume'' or /dev/''volumegroup''-''logicalvolume'' makes no difference at all, those are two sets of symlinks pointing on the '''exact''' same block device. }}
+
 
+
= Expanding and shrinking the storage space  =
+
 
+
Did you notice in the previous section we have never talked on topic like "create this partition at the beginning" or "allocate 10 sectors more". In LVM you do not have to worry about that kind of problematics: your only concern is more "Do I have the space to allocate a new LV or how can I extend an existing LV?". '''LVM takes cares of the low levels aspects for you, just focus on what you want to do with your storage space.'''
+
 
+
The most common problem with computers is the shortage of space on a volume, most of the time production servers can run months or years without requiring a reboot for various reasons (kernel upgrade, hardware failure...) however they regularly requires to extend their storage space because we do generate more and more data as the time goes. With "traditional" approach like fiddling directly with hard drives partitions, storage space manipulation can easily become a headache mainly because it requires coherent copy to be made and thus application downtimes. Don't expect the situation to be more enjoyable with a SAN storage rather a directly attached storage device... Basically the problems remains the same.
+
 
+
== Expanding a storage space ==
+
 
+
The most common task for a system administrator is to expand the available storage space. In the LVM world this implies:
+
* Creating a new PV
+
* Adding the PV to the VG (thus extending the VG capacity)
+
* Extending the existing LVs or create new ones
+
* Extending the structures of the filesystems located on a LV in the case a LV is extended (Not all of the filesystems around support that capability).
+
 
+
=== Bringing a new PV in the VG ===
+
 
+
In the exact same manner we have created our first PV let's create our additional storage device, associate it to a loopback device and then create a PV on it:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/hdd4.img bs=2G count=1
+
# losetup /dev/loop3 /tmp/hdd4.img
+
# pvcreate /dev/loop3
+
</pre>
+
 
+
A '''pvs''' should report the new PV with 2 GB of free space:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    0
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    0
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    0
+
  /dev/loop3        lvm2 a-  2.00g 2.00g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Excellent! The next step consist of adding this newly created PV inside our VG ''vgdata'', this is where the '''vgextend''' command comes at our rescue:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgextend vgdata /dev/loop3
+
  Volume group "vgdata" successfully extended
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
  vgdata  4  4  0 wz--n- 7.98g 2.00g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Great, ''vgdata'' is now 8 GB large instead of 6 GB and have 2 GB of free space to allocate to either new LVs either existing LVs.
+
 
+
=== Extending the LV and its filesystem ===
+
 
+
Bringing new LV would demonstrate nothing more nevertheless extending our existing LVs is much more interesting. How can we use our 2GB extra free space? We can, for example, split it in two allocating a 50% to our first (''lvdata01'') and third (''lvdata03'') LV adding 1GB of space to both. The best of the story is that operation is very simple and is realized with a command named '''lvextend''':
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# lvextend vgdata/lvdata01 -l +50%FREE
+
  Extending logical volume lvdata01 to 3.00 GiB
+
  Logical volume lvdata01 successfully resized
+
# lvextend vgdata/lvdata03 -l +50%FREE
+
  Extending logical volume lvdata03 to 1.10 GiB
+
  Logical volume lvdata03 successfully resized
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Ouaps!! We did a mistake there: lvdata01 has the expected size (2GB + 1GB for a grand total of 3 GB) but lvdata03 only grown of 512 MB (for a grand total size of 1.1 GB). Our mistake was obvious: once the first gigabyte (50% of 2GB) of extra space has been given to lvdata01, only one gigabyte remained free on the VG thus when we said "allocate 50% of the remaining gigabyte to ''lvdata03''" LVM added only 512 MB leaving the other half of this gigabyte unused. The '''vgs''' command can confirm this:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree 
+
  vgdata  4  4  0 wz--n- 7.98g 512.00m
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Nevermind about that voluntary mistake we will keep that extra space for a later paragraph :-) What happened to the storage space visible from the operating system?
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# df -h | grep lvdata01
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata01  2.0G  96M  1.9G  5% /mnt/data01
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Obviously resizing a LV does not "automagically" resize the filesystem structures to take into account the new LV size making that step part of our duty. Happily for us, ext3 can be resized and better it can be grown when mounted in the VFS. This is known as ''online resizing'' and a few others filesystems supports that capability, among them we can quote ext2 (ext3 without a journal), ext4 (patches integrated very recently as of Nov/Dec 2011), XFS, ResiserFS and BTRFS. To our knowledge, only BTRFS support both online resizing '''and''' online shrinking as of Decembrer 2011, all of the others require a filesystem to be unmounted first before being shrunk.
+
 
+
{{fancynote|Consider using the option -r when invoking lvextend, it asks the command to perform a filesystem resize.}}
+
 
+
Now let's extend (grow) the ext3 filesystem located on lvdata01. As said above, ext3 support online resizing hence we do not need to kick it out of the VFS first:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# resize2fs /dev/vgdata/lvdata01
+
resize2fs 1.42 (29-Nov-2011)
+
Filesystem at /dev/vgdata/lvdata01 is mounted on /mnt/data01; on-line resizing required
+
old_desc_blocks = 1, new_desc_blocks = 1
+
Performing an on-line resize of /dev/vgdata/lvdata01 to 785408 (4k) blocks.
+
The filesystem on /dev/vgdata/lvdata01 is now 785408 blocks long.
+
 
+
# df -h | grep lvdata01
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata01  3.0G  96M  2.8G  4% /mnt/data01
+
</pre>
+
 
+
''Et voila!'' Our  LV has now plenty of new space usable :-) '''We do not bother about ''how'' the storage is organized by LVM amongst the underlying storage devices and it is not our problem after all. We only worry about having our storage requirements being satisfied without any further details. From our point of view everything is seen just as if we were manipulating a single storage device subdivided in several partitions of a dynamic size and always organized in a set of contiguous blocks.'''
+
 
+
Now let's shuffle the cards a bit more: when we examined how the LEs of our LVs were allocated, we saw that ''lvdata01'' (named lvdata1 at this time) consisted of 512 LEs or 512 PEs (because of the 1:1 mapping between those)  spread over two PVs. As we have extended it to use an additional PV, we should see it using 3 segments:
+
 
+
* Segment 1: located on the PV stored on /dev/loop0 (LE/PE #0 to #510)
+
* Segment 2: located on the PV stored on /dev/loop1 (LE/PE #511)
+
* Segment 3: located on the PV stored on /dev/loop1 (LE/PE #512 and followers)
+
 
+
Is it the case? Let's check:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# lvdisplay -m  vgdata/lvdata01
+
  --- Logical volume ---
+
  LV Name                /dev/vgdata/lvdata01
+
  VG Name                vgdata
+
  LV UUID                fT22is-cmSL-uhwM-zwCd-jeIe-DWO7-Hkj4k3
+
  LV Write Access        read/write
+
  LV Status              available
+
  # open                1
+
  LV Size                3.00 GiB
+
  Current LE            767
+
  Segments              3
+
  Allocation            inherit
+
  Read ahead sectors    auto
+
  - currently set to    256
+
  Block device          253:0
+
 
+
  --- Segments ---
+
  Logical extent 0 to 510:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop0
+
    Physical extents    0 to 510
+
 
+
  Logical extent 511 to 511:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop1
+
    Physical extents    0 to 0
+
 
+
  Logical extent 512 to 766:
+
    Type                linear
+
    Physical volume    /dev/loop3
+
    Physical extents    0 to 254
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Bingo! Note that if it is true here (LVM uses linear allocation) would not be true in the general case.
+
 
+
{{fancywarning|'''Never mix a local storage device with a SAN disk within the same volume group''' and especially if that later is your system volume. It will bring you a lot of troubles if the SAN disk goes offline or bring weird performance fluctuations as PEs allocated on the SAN will get faster response times than those located on  a local disk. }}
+
 
+
== Shrinking a storage space ==
+
 
+
On some occasions it can be useful to reduce the size of a LV or the size of the VG itself. The principle is similar to what has been demonstrated in the previous section:
+
 
+
# umount the filesystem belong to the LV to be processed (if your filesystem does not support online shrinking)
+
# reduce the filesystem size (if the LV is not to be flushed)
+
# reduce the LV size - OR - remove the LV
+
# remove a PV from the volume group if no longer used to store extents
+
 
+
The simplest case to start with is how a LV can be removed: a good candidate for removal is ''lvdata03'', we failed to resize it and the better would be to scrap it. First unmount it:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# lvs
+
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
  lvdata01 vgdata -wi-ao 3.00g                                     
+
  lvdata02 vgdata -wi-ao 1.00g                                     
+
  lvdata03 vgdata -wi-ao 1.10g                                     
+
  lvdata04 vgdata -wi-ao 2.39g                                     
+
# umount /dev/vgdata/lvdata03
+
# lvs
+
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
  lvdata01 vgdata -wi-ao 3.00g                                     
+
  lvdata02 vgdata -wi-ao 1.00g                                     
+
  lvdata03 vgdata -wi-a- 1.10g                                     
+
  lvdata04 vgdata -wi-ao 2.39g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Noticed the little change with '''lvs'''? It lies in the ''Attr'' field: once the ''lvdata03'' has been unmounted, '''lvs''' tells us the LV is not '''o'''pened anymore (the little o at the rightmost position has been replaced by a dash). The LV still exists but nothing is using it.
+
 
+
To remove ''lvdata03'' use the command '''lvremove''' and confirm the removal by entering 'y' when asked:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# lvremove vgdata/lvdata03
+
Do you really want to remove active logical volume lvdata03? [y/n]: y
+
  Logical volume "lvdata03" successfully removed
+
# lvs
+
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
  lvdata01 vgdata -wi-ao 3.00g                                     
+
  lvdata02 vgdata -wi-ao 1.00g                                     
+
  lvdata04 vgdata -wi-ao 2.39g
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
  vgdata  4  3  0 wz--n- 7.98g 1.60g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Notice the 1.60 of space has been freed in the VG. What can we do next? Shrinking ''lvdata04'' by 50% giving roughly 1.2GB or 1228MB (1.2*1024) of its size could be a good idea so here we go. First we need to umount the filesystem from the VFS because ext3 '''does not support''' online shrinking.
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# umount /dev/vgdata/lvdata04
+
# e2fsck -f /dev/vgdata/lvdata04
+
e2fsck 1.42 (29-Nov-2011)
+
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
+
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
+
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
+
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
+
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
+
/dev/vgdata/lvdata04: 11/156800 files (0.0% non-contiguous), 27154/626688 blocks
+
# resize2fs -p /dev/vgdata/lvdata04 -L 1228M
+
# lvreduce /dev/vgdata/lvdata04 -L 1228
+
  WARNING: Reducing active logical volume to 1.20 GiB
+
  THIS MAY DESTROY YOUR DATA (filesystem etc.)
+
Do you really want to reduce lvdata04? [y/n]: y
+
  Reducing logical volume lvdata04 to 1.20 GiB
+
  Logical volume lvdata04 successfully resized
+
oxygen ~ # e2fsck -f /dev/vgdata/lvdata04
+
e2fsck 1.42 (29-Nov-2011)
+
Pass 1: Checking inodes, blocks, and sizes
+
Pass 2: Checking directory structure
+
Pass 3: Checking directory connectivity
+
Pass 4: Checking reference counts
+
Pass 5: Checking group summary information
+
/dev/vgdata/lvdata04: 11/78400 files (0.0% non-contiguous), 22234/314368 blocks
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Not very practical indeed, we can tell '''lvreduce''' to handle the underlying filesystem shrinkage for us. Let's shrink again this time giving a 1 GB volume (1024 MB) in absolute size:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# lvreduce /dev/vgdata/lvdata04 -r -L 1024
+
fsck from util-linux 2.20.1
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata04: clean, 11/78400 files, 22234/314368 blocks
+
resize2fs 1.42 (29-Nov-2011)
+
Resizing the filesystem on /dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata04 to 262144 (4k) blocks.
+
The filesystem on /dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata04 is now 262144 blocks long.
+
 
+
  Reducing logical volume lvdata04 to 1.00 GiB
+
  Logical volume lvdata04 successfully resized
+
# lvs
+
  LV      VG    Attr  LSize Origin Snap%  Move Log Copy%  Convert
+
  lvdata01 vgdata -wi-ao 3.00g                                     
+
  lvdata02 vgdata -wi-ao 1.00g                                     
+
  lvdata04 vgdata -wi-a- 1.00g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
{{fancynote|Notice the number of 4k blocks shown: 4096*262144/1024^2 gives 1,073,741,824 bytes either 1 GB.}}
+
 
+
Time to mount the volume again:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# mount /dev/vgdata/lvdata04 /mnt/data04
+
# df -h | grep lvdata04
+
/dev/mapper/vgdata-lvdata04  1021M  79M  891M  9% /mnt/data04
+
</pre>
+
 
+
And what is going on at the VG level?
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
  vgdata  4  3  0 wz--n- 7.98g 2.99g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Wow, we have near 3 GB of free space inside, a bit more than one of our PV. It could be great if we can free one of the those and of course LVM gives you the possibility to do that. Before going further, let's check what happened at the PVs level:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvs   
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1020.00m
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    1.00g
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Did you noticed? 1 GB of space has been freed on the last PV (/dev/loop3) since ''lvdata04'' has been shrunk not counting the space freed on ''/dev/loop1'' and ''/dev/loop2'' after the removal of lvdata02.
+
 
+
 
+
Next steo: can we remove a PV directly (the command to remove a PV from a VG is '''vgreduce''')?
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgreduce vgdata /dev/loop0
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop0" still in use
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Of course not, all of our PVs supports the content of our LVs and we must find a manner to move all of the PE (physical extents) actually hold by the PV /dev/loop0 elsewhere withing the VG. But wait a minute, the victory is there yet: we do have some free space in the  /dev/loop0 and we will get more and more free space in it as the displacement process will progress. What is going to happen if, from a concurrent session, we create others LV in ''vgdata'' at the same time the content of  /dev/loop0 is moved? Simple: it can be filled again with the PEs newly allocated.
+
 
+
So before proceeding to the displacement of what ''/dev/loop0'' contents, we must say to LVM: "please don't allocate anymore PEs on ''/dev/loop0''". This is achieved via the parameter ''-x'' of the command '''pvchange''':
+
<pre>
+
# pvchange -x n /dev/loop0
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop0" changed
+
  1 physical volume changed / 0 physical volumes not changed
+
</pre>
+
 
+
The value ''n'' given to ''-x'' marks the PV as ''unallocable'' (i.e. not usable for future PE allocations). Let's check again the PVs with '''pvs''' and '''pvdisplay''':
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 --  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1020.00m
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    1.00g
+
 
+
# pvdisplay /dev/loop0
+
  --- Physical volume ---
+
  PV Name              /dev/loop0
+
  VG Name              vgdata
+
  PV Size              2.00 GiB / not usable 4.00 MiB
+
  Allocatable          NO
+
  PE Size              4.00 MiB
+
  Total PE              511
+
  Free PE              0
+
  Allocated PE          511
+
  PV UUID              b9i1Hi-llka-egCF-2vU2-f7tp-wBqh-qV4qEk
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Great news here, the ''Attrs'' field shows a dash instead of 'a' at the leftmost position meaning the PV is effectively ''not allocatable''. However '''marking a PV not allocatable does not wipe the existing PEs stored on it'''. In other words, it means that data present on the PV remains '''absolutely intact'''. Another positive point lies the remaining capacities of the PVs composing ''vgdata'': the sum of free space available on ''/dev/loop1'', ''/dev/loop2'' and ''/dev/loop3'' is 3060MB (1016MB + 1020MB + 1024MB) so largely sufficient to hold the 2048 MB (2 GB) actually stored on the PV ''/dev/loop0''.
+
 
+
Now we have frozen the allocation of PEs on /dev/loop0 we can make LVM move all of PEs located in this PV on the others PVs composing the VG ''vgdata''. Again, we don't have to worry about the gory details like where LVM will precisely relocate the PEs actually hold by ''/dev/loop0'', our '''only''' concerns is to get all of them moved out of ''/dev/loop0''. That job gets done by:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvmove /dev/loop0
+
  /dev/loop0: Moved: 5.9%
+
  /dev/loop0: Moved: 41.3%
+
  /dev/loop0: Moved: 50.1%
+
  /dev/loop0: Moved: 100.0%
+
</pre>
+
 
+
We don't have to tell LVM the VG name because it already knows that ''/dev/loop0'' belongs to ''vgdata'' and what are the others PVs belonging to that VG usable to host the PEs coming from ''/dev/loop0''. It is absolutely normal for the process to takes some minutes (real life cases can go up to several hours even with SAN disks located on high-end storage hardware which is much more faster than local SATA or even SAS drive).
+
 
+
At the end of the moving process, we can see that the PV ''/dev/loop0'' is totally free:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    2.00g
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
 
+
# pvdisplay /dev/loop0
+
  --- Physical volume ---
+
  PV Name              /dev/loop0
+
  VG Name              vgdata
+
  PV Size              2.00 GiB / not usable 4.00 MiB
+
  Allocatable          yes
+
  PE Size              4.00 MiB
+
  Total PE              511
+
  Free PE              511
+
  Allocated PE          0
+
  PV UUID              b9i1Hi-llka-egCF-2vU2-f7tp-wBqh-qV4qEk
+
</pre>
+
 
+
511 PEs free out of a maximum 511 PEs so all of its containt has been successfully spread on the others PVs (the volume is also still marked as "unallocatable", this is normal). Now it is ready to be detached from the VG ''vgdata'' with the help of '''vgreduce''' :
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgreduce vgdata /dev/loop0
+
  Removed "/dev/loop0" from volume group "vgdata"
+
</pre>
+
 
+
What happened to ''vgdata''?
+
<pre>
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree 
+
  vgdata  3  3  0 wz--n- 5.99g 1016.00m
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Its storage space falls to ~6GB! What would tell '''pvs'''?
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0        lvm2 a-  2.00g    2.00g
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
</pre>
+
 
+
''/dev/loop0'' is now a standalone device detached from any VG. However it still contains some LVM metadata that remains to be wiped with the help of the '''pvremove''' command:
+
 
+
{{fancywarning|pvremove/pvmove '''do not destroy the disk content'''. Please *do* a secure erase of the storage device with ''shred'' or any similar tool before disposing of it. }}
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvdisplay /dev/loop0
+
  "/dev/loop0" is a new physical volume of "2.00 GiB"
+
  --- NEW Physical volume ---
+
  PV Name              /dev/loop0
+
  VG Name             
+
  PV Size              2.00 GiB
+
  Allocatable          NO
+
  PE Size              0 
+
  Total PE              0
+
  Free PE              0
+
  Allocated PE          0
+
  PV UUID              b9i1Hi-llka-egCF-2vU2-f7tp-wBqh-qV4qEk
+
 
+
# pvremove /dev/loop0
+
  Labels on physical volume "/dev/loop0" successfully wiped
+
# pvdisplay /dev/loop0
+
  No physical volume label read from /dev/loop0
+
  Failed to read physical volume "/dev/loop0"
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Great! Things are just simple than that. In their day to day reality, system administrators drive their show in a extremely close similar manner: they do additional tasks like taking backups of data located on the LVs before doing any risky operation or plan applications shutdown periods prior starting a manipulation with a LVM volume to take extra precautions.
+
 
+
== Replacing a PV (storage device) by another ==
+
 
+
The principle a mix of what has been said in the above sections. The principle is basically:
+
# Create a new PV
+
# Associate it to the VG
+
# Move the contents of the PV to be removed on the remaining PVs composing the VG
+
# Remove the PV from the VG and wipe it
+
 
+
The strategy in this paragraph is to reuse ''/dev/loop0'' and make it replace ''/dev/loop2'' (both devices are of the same size, however we also could have used a bigger ''/dev/loop0'' as well).
+
 
+
Here we go! First we need to (re-)create the LVM metadata to make ''/dev/loop0'' usable by LVM:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvcreate /dev/loop0
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop0" successfully created
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Then this brand new PV is added to the VG ''vgdata'' thus increasing its size of 2 GB:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgextend vgdata  /dev/loop0
+
  Volume group "vgdata" successfully extended
+
# vgs
+
  VG    #PV #LV #SN Attr  VSize VFree
+
  vgdata  4  3  0 wz--n- 7.98g 2.99g
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    2.00g
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Now we have to suspend the allocation of PEs on ''/dev/loop2'' prior to moving its PEs (and freeing some space on it):
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvchange -x n /dev/loop2
+
  Physical volume "/dev/loop2" changed
+
  1 physical volume changed / 0 physical volumes not changed
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g    2.00g
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 --  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Then we move all of the the PEs on ''/dev/loop2'' to the rest of the VG:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# pvmove /dev/loop2
+
  /dev/loop2: Moved: 49.9%
+
  /dev/loop2: Moved: 100.0%
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop2 vgdata lvm2 --  2.00g    2.00g
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Then we remove ''/dev/loop2'' from the VG and we wipe its LVM metadata:
+
 
+
<pre>
+
# vgreduce vgdata /dev/loop2
+
  Removed "/dev/loop2" from volume group "vgdata"
+
# pvremove /dev/loop2
+
  Labels on physical volume "/dev/loop2" successfully wiped
+
</pre>
+
 
+
Final state of the PVs composing ''vgdata'':
+
<pre>
+
# pvs
+
  PV        VG    Fmt  Attr PSize PFree 
+
  /dev/loop0 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
  /dev/loop1 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g 1016.00m
+
  /dev/loop3 vgdata lvm2 a-  2.00g      0
+
</pre>
+
 
+
''/dev/loop0'' took the place of ''/dev/loop2'' :-)
+
 
+
= More advanced topics =
+
 
+
== Backing up the layout ==
+
 
+
== Freezing a VG ==
+
 
+
== LVM snapshots ==
+
 
+
== Linear/Stripped/Mirrored Logical volumes ==
+
 
+
= LVM and Funtoo =
+
  
 +
<console>
 +
$ ##i##pytext index.ehtml > index.html
 +
</console>
  
[[Category:Labs]]
+
That's it for now; I'll see you next time when we'll take a look at the first stage of the www.gentoo.org redesign!
[[Category:Filesystems]]
+
[[Category:Articles]]
+
 
{{ArticleFooter}}
 
{{ArticleFooter}}

Revision as of 08:21, December 31, 2014

A site reborn

Have you ever woken up one morning and suddenly realized that your cute little personal development Web site isn't really that great? If so, you're in good company. In this series, Daniel Robbins shares his experiences as he redesigns the www.gentoo.org Web site using technologies like XML, XSLT, and Python. Along the way, you may find some excellent approaches to use for your next Web site redesign. In this article, Daniel creates a user-centric action plan and introduces pytext, an embedded Python interpreter.

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An unruly horde

Fellow software developer, may I ask you a question? Why is it that although many of us are intimately familiar with Web technologies such as HTML, CGI, Perl, Python, Java technology, and XML, our very own Web sites -- the ones devoted to our precious development projects -- look like they were thrown together by an unruly horde of hyperactive 12-year-olds? Why, oh why, is this so?

Could it be because most of the time, we've left our Web site out to rot while we squander our precious time hacking away on our free software projects? The answer, at least in my case, is a most definite "Yes."

When I'm not writing articles for IBM developerWorks or being a new dad, I'm feverishly working on the next release of Gentoo Linux, along with my skilled team of volunteers. And, yes, Gentoo Linux has its own Web site (see Resources). As of right now (March 2001), our Web site isn't that special; that's because we don't spend much time working on it because we're generally engrossed in improving Gentoo Linux itself. Sure, our site does have several admittedly cute logos that I whipped up using Xara X (see Resources), but when you look past the eye candy, our site leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe yours does too. If so, I have one thing to say to you -- welcome to the club.

www.gentoo.org

In our case, our Web site dilemma exists because our project has been growing, and our Web site hasn't. Now that Gentoo Linux is approaching the 1.0 release (when it'll be officially ready for non-developers) and is growing in popularity, we need to start seriously looking at how our Web site can better serve its users. Here's a snapshot of www.gentoo.org:

The current (March 2001) state of affairs at www.gentoo.org

As you can see, we have all the bare essentials -- a description of Gentoo Linux, a features list, a daily Changelog (automatically updated thanks to Python), and a bunch of important links (to the download sites, to our mailing list sign-up pages, and to cvsWeb). We also have links to three documentation resources -- the Gentoo Linux Install Guide and Development Guides, and Christian Zander's NVIDIA Troubleshooting Guide.

However, while the site seems O.K., we're missing a lot of things. The most obvious is documentation -- our installation and development guides need a lot of work. And then we need to add an FAQ, new links, new user information...the list is endless.

Content vs. display

And now we come to our second problem. Right now, all of our work is done in raw HTML; I hack away at the index.html file until it looks O.K. Even worse, our Web documentation is written in raw HTML. This isn't a good thing from a development perspective because our raw content (consisting of paragraphs, sections, chapters) is garbled together with a bunch of display-related HTML tags. This, of course, makes it difficult to change both the content and the look of our site. While this approach has worked so far, it is bound to cause problems as our site continues to grow.

Clearly, we need to be using better technologies behind the scenes. Instead of using HTML directly, we need to start using things like XML, XSLT, and Python. The goal is to automate as much as possible so that we can add and expand our site with ease. If we do our job well, even major future changes to our site should be relatively painless.

A strategy!

It was clear that we had a lot of work ahead of us. In fact, there was so much to be done that I didn't know where to begin. Just as I was trying to sort out everything in my head, I came across Laura Wonnacott's "Site Savvy" InfoWorld column (see Resources). In it, she explained the concept of "user-centric" design -- how to improve a Web site while keeping the needs of your target audience (in this case, Gentoo Linux users and developers) in focus. Reading the article and taking a look at the "Handbook of User-Centered Design" link from the article helped me to formulate a strategy -- an action plan -- for the redesign:

  1. First, clearly define the official goal of the Web site -- in writing. What's it there for, and what's it supposed to do?
  2. Identify the different categories of users who will be using your site -- your target audience. Rank them in order of priority: Which ones are most important to you?
  3. Set up a system for getting feedback from your target audience, so they can let you know what you're doing right and wrong.
  4. Evaluate the feedback, and use it to determine what parts of the site need to be improved or redesigned. Tackle high-priority sections first.
  5. Once you've selected the part of the site to improve, get to work! During your implementation, make sure that the content and design of the new section caters specifically to the needs of your target audience and fixes all known deficiencies.
  6. When the section redesign is complete, add it to your live site, even if it has a look that's markedly different from your current site. This way, your users can begin benefitting from the newly redesigned section immediately. If there's a problem with the redesign, you'll get user feedback more quickly. Finally, making incremental improvements to your site (rather than revamping the whole site and then rolling it out all at once -- surprise!) will help prevent your users from feeling alienated by your (possibly dramatic) site changes.
  7. After completing step 6, jump to step 4 and repeat.

The mission statement

I was happy to discover that we already had step 3 in place. We had received several e-mail suggestions from visitors to the site, and our developer mailing list also served as a way of exchanging suggestions and comments. However, I had never really completed steps 1 or 2. While the answers may seem obvious, I did find it helpful to actually sit down and write out our mission statement:

www.gentoo.org exists to assist those who use and develop for Gentoo Linux by providing relevant, up-to-date information about Gentoo Linux and Linux in general, focusing on topics related to Gentoo Linux installation, use, administration, and development. As the central hub for all things Gentoo, the site should also feature important news relevant to Gentoo Linux users and developers. In addition to catering to Gentoo Linux users and developers, www.gentoo.org has the secondary purpose of meeting the needs of potential Gentoo Linux users, providing the information they need to decide whether Gentoo Linux is right for them.

The target audience

So far, so good. Now for step 2 -- defining our target audience:

www.gentoo.org has three target audiences -- Gentoo Linux developers, users, and potential users. While no one group is absolutely a higher priority than another, right now the needs of Gentoo Linux developers are our highest priority, followed by Gentoo Linux users, and then potential users. This is because Gentoo Linux is currently in a prerelease state. When Gentoo Linux reaches version 1.0, Gentoo Linux users and potential users will also become a priority.

Comments and suggestions

O.K., now it's time to evaluate the suggestions and comments we've collected:

Over the past few months, we've received a number of suggestions from Web site visitors. Overwhelmingly, people are requesting better documentation -- for both developers and users. Several developers have asked if we could create a mailing list that would be devoted exclusively to describing CVS commits.

Interestingly, we've also received a couple of e-mails asking whether Gentoo Linux is a commercial or free product. I'm guessing that because our main logo is inscribed with the name "Gentoo Technologies, Inc." (our legal corporation name), people assume that we have a commercial focus. Modifying our logo so that it reads "Gentoo Linux" and adding small opening paragraph to the main page explaining that we are a free software project should help.

The improvement list

O.K., now let's turn these suggestions into a list of possible improvements:

  • Revamp main page
    • Implementation: update logo and add free software blurb
    • Goal: to clearly state that we are a free software project
    • Target group: potential users
    • Difficulty: medium
  • Improve basic user documentation
    • Implementation: new XML/XSLT system, verbose documentation
    • Goal: to make it easier for users to install Gentoo Linux
    • Target group: new users
    • Difficulty: medium
  • Improve/create developer documentation
    • Implementation: new XML/XSLT system, CVS guide, dev guide, Portage guide
    • Goal: to help our developers to do a great job
    • Target group: developers
    • Difficulty: hard
  • Add a CVS mailing list
    • Implementation: use our existing mailman mailing list manager
    • Goal: to better inform our developers
    • Target group: developers
    • Difficulty: easy

A selection!

Two things leap out from the list, for different reasons. The first is the CVS mailing list -- this one is a no-brainer because it's so easy to implement. Often, it makes sense to implement the easiest changes first so that users can benefit from them right away.

The second big thing that leaps out from the list is the need for developer documentation. This is a longer-term project that will require much more work. From my conversations with the other developers, we all appear to be in agreement that some kind of XML/XSL approach is the right solution.

The XML/XSL prototype

To help start the process, I developed a prototype XML syntax to be used for all our online documentation. By using this XML syntax (called "guide"), our documentation will be clearly organized into paragraphs, sections, and chapters (using XML tags like <section>, <chapter>, etc.) while remaining free of any display-related tags. To create the HTML for display on our site, I created a prototype set of XSL transforms. By using an XSLT processor such as Sablotron, our guide XML files can be converted into HTML as follows:

devguide.xml + guide.xsl ---XSLT processor---> devguide.html

The great thing about this XML/XSLT approach is that it separates our raw content (XML) from the display-related information contained in the guide.xsl (XSLT) file. If we ever need to update the look of our Web pages, we simply modify the guide.xsl file and run all our XML through the XSLT processor (Sablotron), creating updated HTML pages. Or, if we need to add a few chapters to the development guide, we can modify devguide.xml. Once we're done, we then run the XML through Sablotron, which then spits out a fully-formatted devguide.html file with several added chapters. Think of XML as the content and XSLT as the display-related formatting macros.

While our entire team is convinced that XML/XSLT is the way to go, we haven't yet agreed upon an official XML syntax. Achim, our development lead, suggested that we use docbook instead of rolling our own XML syntax. However, the prototype guide XML format has helped to start the decision-making process. Because we developers are going to be the ones using the XML/XSL on a daily basis, it's important to choose a solution that we're comfortable with and meets all of our needs. By my next article, I should have a working XML/XSL doc system to show off to you.

Technology demo: pytext

For the most part, our current Web site isn't using any new or super-cool technologies that are worth mentioning. However, there's one notable exception -- our tiny pytext embedded Python interpreter.

Like many of you, I'm a huge Python fan and much prefer it over other scripting languages, so when it came time to add some dynamic content to our Web site, I naturally wanted to use Python. And, as you probably know, when coding dynamic HTML content, it's usually much more convenient to embed the language commands inside the HTML, rather than the other way around. Thus, the need for an embedded Python interpreter that can take a document like this:

<p>
Yeah, sure; I got some questions:<br>
<!--code
names=["bob","jimmy","ralph"]
items=["socks","lunch","accordion"]
for x in items:
for y in names:
print "Anyone seen",y+"'s",x+"?<br>"
-->
See, told you so.

....and transform it into this:

<p>
Yeah, sure; I got some questions:<br>
Anyone seen bob's socks?<br>
Anyone seen jimmy's socks?<br>
Anyone seen ralph's socks?<br>
Anyone seen bob's lunch?<br>
Anyone seen jimmy's lunch?<br>
Anyone seen ralph's lunch?<br>
Anyone seen bob's accordion?<br>
Anyone seen jimmy's accordion?<br>
Anyone seen ralph's accordion?<br>
See, told you so.

Here's the source code for pytext:

Code Listing 2.4:

pytext (python source code) - The pytext embedded Python interpreter
#!/usr/bin/env python2
 
# pytext 2.1
# Copyright 1999-2001 Daniel Robbins
# Distributed under the GPL
 
import sys
 
def runfile(myarg):
   "interprets a text file with embedded elements"
   mylocals={}
   try:
      a=open(myarg,'r')
   except IOError:
      sys.stderr.write("!!! Error opening "+myarg+"!\n")
      return
   mylines=a.readlines()
   a.close()
   pos=0
   while pos<len(mylines):
      if mylines[pos][0:8]==""):
       mycode=mycode+mylines[pos]
       pos=pos+1
  exec(mycode,globals(),mylocals)
       else:
  sys.stdout.write(mylines[pos])
       pos=pos+1
 
if len(sys.argv)>1:
   for x in sys.argv[1:]:
       runfile(x)
   sys.exit(0)
else:
   sys.stderr.write
     ("pytext 2.1 -- Copyright 1999-2001 Daniel Robbins. ")
   sys.stderr.write
     ("Distributed under the\nGNU Public License\n\n")
   sys.stderr.write
     ("Usage: "+sys.argv[0]+" file0 [file1]...\n")
   sys.exit(1)

How pytext works

Here's how it works. It scans each input line, and most of the time, each input line is simply echoed to stdout. However, if pytext encounters a line beginning with are appended to a string called mycode. Pytext then executes the mycode string using the built-in exec() function, effectively creating an embedded Python interpreter.

There's something really beautiful about this particular implementation -- we call exec() in such a way that all modifications to the global and local namespaces are saved. This makes it possible to import a module or define a variable in one embedded block, and then access this previously-created object in a later block, as this example clearly demonstrates:

<!--code
import os
foo=23
-->

Hello

<!--code
print foo
if os.path.exists("/tmp/mytmpfile"):
print "it exists"
else:
print "I don't see it"
-->

Handy, eh? pytext serves is an excellent demonstration of the power of Python, and is an extremely useful tool for Python fans. For our current site, we call pytext from a cron job, using it to periodically generate the HTML code for our main page Changelog:

$ pytext index.ehtml > index.html

That's it for now; I'll see you next time when we'll take a look at the first stage of the www.gentoo.org redesign!

Next >>>

Read the next article in this series: The Gentoo.org Redesign, Part 2

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About the Author

Daniel Robbins is best known as the creator of Gentoo Linux and author of many IBM developerWorks articles about Linux. Daniel currently serves as Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL) of Funtoo Linux. Funtoo Linux is a Gentoo-based distribution and continuation of Daniel's original Gentoo vision.

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