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Placeholder: Migrating a ZFS Root Pool

Summary: I built a ZFS NAS using a pair of mirrored 1TB drives to comprise the root pool. Unfortunately, it turns out you really don’t want to combine a large amount of NFS-served data with your root pool unless you have a separate ZFS Intent Log (ZIL), due to the NFS COMMIT performance bottleneck. Note that you can’t add a separate ZIL to a root pool either. Hence, I needed to separate my data from my root pool.

Quick version: use beadm to clone your BE to a new pool on a separate disk, then destroy the old BE, export/import your old pool to rename it, and repeat the process to a third pool to get the root pool back to its original name.

I installed two new 30GB OCZ SSDs and then proceeded:

  1. Partition the new drives identically, with a slice 0 for your new root pool. For SSDs, leave a few GB unused to extend the life of the drive (write wear). I also created a 3GB slice for a data ZIL later.
  2. Create a new pool (e.g. rpool2) on s0 of one drive.
  3. Use beadm to clone the current boot environment to the new pool.
  4. Create swap and dump volumes of appropriate sizes in the new pool too (or snapshot and send/recv your existing ones if you want to be absolutely sure they’re identical).
  5. Install GRUB on s0 of the new drive.
  6. Activate and boot the new BE off the new drive.
  7. Edit /etc/vfstab and change the path for the swap area to your new swap volume. Use swap -d/-a to dynamically change the current swap area to match.
  8. Use dumpadm -d to redefine the dump area to your new dump volume too.
  9. Destroy the old BE (might want to back it up with zfs send first!). Tip: use “zfs destroy -s” for BEs with snapshots.
  10. Export your old rpool, then re-import with a new name (e.g. datapool).
  11. Create a new pool on s0 of the other new drive, called rpool.
  12. Repeat the process above to clone your current BE to the new rpool, and migrate swap/dump. (This is only necessary to change the root pool name back to the standard ‘rpool’, although it has no effect on operation.)
  13. Once booted off the new rpool BE, destroy the previous BE and root pool. Attach that slice to rpool as a mirror. (Don’t forget to install GRUB on the drive.)
  14. I also added the s3 slices as a mirrored ZIL to datapool. Although it is not ideal to share a drive between the root pool and the ZIL for another pool. I figure there is unlikely to be much direct conflict (most of the rpool files will be read-only and cached), and the SSDs should be fairly low latency anyway.