In linux, hard drives are referred to as devices and are represented as pseudo files in
/dev. For example, the first partition of the second lowest numbered SCSI drive is
/dev/sdb1. If the drive referred to as
/dev/sda is removed, then the remaining partition is automatically renamed
/dev/sda1 at reboot, which can potentially cause your system not to boot.
Note: if you are using LVM, then this post isn't relevant as LVM already supports persistent naming.
Inversely, imagine you've got a system with internal SAS disks that has been working fine, with the root filesystem on
/dev/sda and some other key directory (like
/dev/sdb. After a while, you decide to add some additional storage via a Fiber Channel card and all of a sudden the system won't boot correctly because the RAID array on your fibre channel disks has become
However, some people don't seem to know that this can be easily resolved by using one of the schemes for persistent naming. From
Instead of giving the device explicitly, one may indicate the (ext2 or xfs) filesystem that is to be mounted by its UUID or volume label (cf. e2label(8) or xfs_admin(8)), writing LABEL=<label> or UUID=<uuid>, e.g., LABEL=Boot or UUID=3ede-813... This will make the system more robust: adding or removing a SCSI disk changes the disk device name but not the filesystem volume label.
There are two main methods of addressing filesystems in a persistent fashion; by-uuid or bl-label.
- UUID is a mechanism to give each filesystem a unique identifier. All Linux filesystems (including swap) support UUID. And although, FAT and NTFS filesystems technically don't, they will still be presented with a unique identifier. The downside is that they're not very readable (eg.
- Almost all filesystems types can have a label, including ext2, ext3, xfs, btrfs and swap filesystems. FAT file systems don't have any mechanism to support disk labels, so you should use the udev by-id device specification instead. Labels are the preferred method, but can suffer from name collisions if you're not sensible about the labels you assign.
udev reads the available filesystem labels and configures useful symlinks under
[[email protected] ~]# ls -lR /dev/disk/by-uuid /dev/disk/by-uuid: lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Apr 26 2010 63c9c012-d93d-4953-962a-66f8130238af > ../../sda1 [[email protected] ~]# ls -lR /dev/disk/by-label /dev/disk/by-label: lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 10 Apr 26 2010 boot -> ../../sda1
You can also use the
blkid command to query block device attributes, including UUID and labels:
[[email protected] ~]# blkid /dev/mapper/VolGroup00-LogVol01: TYPE="swap" /dev/mapper/VolGroup00-LogVol00: UUID="b990560a-1d49-4751-afdb-7f3bd070d140" TYPE="ext3" /dev/sda1: LABEL="/boot" UUID="63c9c012-d93d-4953-962a-66f8130238af" TYPE="ext3" /dev/hda: LABEL="CentOS_5.3_Final" TYPE="iso9660" /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00: UUID="b990560a-1d49-4751-afdb-7f3bd070d140" TYPE="ext3" /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol01: TYPE="swap"
Setting Disk Labels
How to set or change a disk label depends on the filesystem. Below are some common examples:
e2label /dev/XXX <label>
reiserfstune -l <label> /dev/XXX
jfs_tune -L <label> /dev/XXX
xfs_admin -L <label> /dev/XXX
btrfs filesystem label <device> <newlabel>
mkswap -L SWAP0 /dev/XXX
Using Persistent Naming
There are two ways to use the above persistent naming schemes. Firstly, you could simple reference the device by the symlink in
/dev/disk/by-label/XXX as shown above, or, more directly as in the examples below by prefixing with either
Example of /etc/fstab with disk labels:
LABEL=ROOT / ext3 defaults - 1 LABEL=BOOT /boot ext3 defaults - 2 LABEL=SWAP swap swap defaults 0 0 LABEL=HOME /home ext3 nosuid,auto - 2
Example of /boot/grub/grub.conf with disk labels:
title CentOS root (hd0,0) kernel (hd0,0)/vmlinuz ro root=LABEL=ROOT rhgb quiet initrd (hd0,0)/initrd.img