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Building a Redundant iSCSI and NFS Cluster With Debian - Part 4

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This is part 4 of a series on building a redundant iSCSI and NFS SAN with Debian.

Part 1 – Overview, network layout and DRBD installation
Part 2 – DRBD and LVM
Part 3 – Heartbeat and automated failover
Part 4 – iSCSI and IP failover
Part 5 – Multipathing and client configuration
Part 6 – Anything left over!

In this part, we’ll configure Heartbeat to manage IP address failover on the two storage interfaces. We’ll also install and configure an iSCSI target to provide block-level storage to clients. IP address failover

We want Heartbeat to manage the two IP addresses we will be providing iSCSI services over. From looking back at our original network plan, we can see that these are, and These are on two separate subnets to ensure that packets go out of the correct interface when our clients connect to them using multipathing (which will be done in the next part). There are other ways of accomplishing this (using ip routing), but this is the easiest.

Edit your /etc/ha.d/haresources configuration file on both nodes, so that it looks like the following :

weasel drbddisk::r0 \
        IPaddr:: \
        IPaddr:: \

You can see that it’s using the built-in IPaddr script (in /etc/ha.d/resource.d) to bring up the IP addresses on the designated interfaces. The last line, arp_filter will call a script we’ll now create. Put the following contents in the file /etc/init.d/arp_filter :

for FILTER in /proc/sys/net/ipv4/conf/eth*/arp_filter; do
        echo "$FILTER was $(cat $FILTER), setting to 1..."
        echo 1 > $FILTER

And then make sure it is executable :

# chmod +x /etc/init.d/arp_filter

The reason we need this additional script is documented at It causes the nodes to perform a route lookup to determine the interface through which to send ARP responses, instead of the default behavior, which is to replying from all Ethernet interfaces. This is needed as our cluster nodes are connected to several different networks.

Now, restart Heartbeat on the two nodes, and you should see your eth2 and eth3 interfaces come up and have an IP address assigned to them. Try restarting Heartbeat on the two nodes to observe the resources migrating between them. We can now move on to setting up the iSCSI server.

iSCSI overview

A great overview of iSCSI is on Wikipedia : Essentially, it allows you to run SCSI commands over an IP network, which lets you create a low-cost SAN without having to invest in expensive Fibre Channel cabling and switches. The shared block devices we’ll create appear to the clients as regular SCSI devices – you can partition, format and mount them the same as you would a regular directly attached device. iSCSI clients are called “initiators”, and the server part is called a “target”.

On Linux, there least four different targets :

  • SCST (
  • STGT (
  • IET (
  • LIO ( Out of these four, the STGT and IET targets seem to be the most commonly used. The STGT target in particular is worth investigation as it is included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and derivatives. We’ll be using the IET target, however. It seems to be one of the more popular iSCSI target implementations, builds cleanly on Debian, and critically allows the service to be stopped while initiators are logged in – which we need to do in a failover scenario.

Note 1 : Check the README.vmware if you are going to use it as a backing store for VMWare!

Note 2 : As the IET target contains a kernel module, you will need to build and install it again each time you update or install a new kernel. This means you will have to double check it each time you run a system update!

First, we’ll make sure we have the necessary tools to build the target :

# apt-get install build-essential linux-headers-`uname -r` libssl-dev

Now, download the target from The current version as of the time of writing is 0.4.17; adjust the version numbers below if necessary. Once downloaded, you’ll need to unpack it and build it :

# tar xzvf iscsitarget-0.4.17.tar.gz 
# cd iscsitarget-0.4.17
# make KERNELSRC=/usr/src/linux-headers-`uname -r`
# make install

Now, copy /etc/ietd.conf to /etc/ietd.default for reference, and repeat the above installation steps for the other node in the cluster.

Creating iSCSI targets

Once it’s installed, start the daemon on the current “master” node :

# /etc/init.d/iscsi-target start
Starting iSCSI enterprise target service: succeeded.

You should now have two empty files under /proc/net/iet, session and volume, and output similar to the following will show up in /var/log/messages :

Feb  9 14:09:40 otter kernel: iSCSI Enterprise Target Software - version 0.4.17
Feb  9 14:09:40 otter kernel: iscsi_trgt: Registered io type fileio
Feb  9 14:09:40 otter kernel: iscsi_trgt: Registered io type blockio
Feb  9 14:09:40 otter kernel: iscsi_trgt: Registered io type nullio

The first target we’ll create using a backing store (the underlying storage) of our LVM volume created earlier (/dev/storage/test). On the master node with the DRBD device and LVM volume active, run the following commands :

# ietadm --op new --tid=1 --params
# ietadm --op new --tid=1 --lun=0 --params Type=fileio,Path=/dev/storage/test

The first command creates a new target, with an ID of 1 and a name of “”. See for more details on the naming conventions of iSCSI targets.

The second command adds a LUN (ID 0) to this target, assigns the LVM volume /dev/storage/test as the backing store, and tells the target to provide access to this device via the “fileio” method. Check the ietd.conf man page for details on the various options you can use – in particular, you may want to try benchmarking the fileio,blockio, and using write-back caching.

If you now check the contents of /proc/net/iet/volume, you’ll see the target listed :

# cat /proc/net/iet/volume
        lun:0 state:0 iotype:fileio iomode:wt path:/dev/storage/test

However, if you restart the target daemon, you’ll see the target disappear. To make a permanent entry, edit /etc/ietd.conf and add the following :

Lun 0 Path=/dev/storage/test,Type=fileio
Alias test

See the /etc/ietd.default file created earlier to see some of the other options you can set – although you can safely stick to the bare minimum defaults for the moment. Now, when you restart the daemon, you’ll see your volumes being created at startup.

Heartbeat integration

We’ll now add this to our Heartbeat configuration. Make sure the iSCSI service is stopped and that /etc/ietd.conf is the same on both nodes, and then edit /etc/ha.d/haresources to manage the iscsi-target init script :

weasel drbddisk::r0 \
        IPaddr:: \
        IPaddr:: \
        arp_filter \

Restart heartbeat, and you should then see the iSCSI volumes moving across the nodes – you can check by looking at /proc/net/iet/volume.