Setting up virtlockd on NFS

virtlockd is a lock manager implementation for libvirt. It’s designed to prevent you from starting two virtual machines (eg. on different nodes in your cluster) which are backed by the same writable disk image, something which can cause disk corruption. It uses plain fcntl-based file locking, so it is ideal for use when you are using NFS to share your disk images.

Since documentation is rather lacking, this post summarises how to set up virtlockd. I am using NFS to share /var/lib/libvirt/images across all the nodes in my virtualization cluster.

Firstly it is not clear from the documentation, but virtlockd runs alongside libvirtd on every node. The reason for this is so that libvirtd can be killed without having it drop all the locks, which would leave all your VMs unprotected. (You can restart virtlockd independently when it is safe to do so). I guess the other reason is because POSIX file locking is so fscking crazy unless you use it from an independent process.

Another thing which is not clear from the documentation: virtlockd doesn’t listen on any TCP ports, so you don’t need to open up the firewall. The local libvirtd and virtlockd processes communicate over a private Unix domain socket and virtlockd doesn’t need to communicate with anything else.

There are two ways that virtlockd can work: It can either lock the images directly (this is contrary to what the current documentation says, but Dan told me this so it must be true).

Or you can set up a separate lock file directory, where virtlockd will create zero-sized lock files. This lock file directory must be shared with all nodes over NFS. The lock directory is only needed if you’re not using disk image files (eg. you’re using iSCSI LUNs or something). The reason is that you can’t lock things like devices using fcntl. If you want to go down this route, apart from setting up the shared lock directory somewhere, exporting it from your NFS server, and mounting it on all nodes, you will also have to edit /etc/libvirt/qemu-lockd.conf. The comments are fairly self-explanatory.

However I’m using image files, so I’m going to opt for locking the files directly. This is easy to set up because there’s hardly configuration at all: as long as virtlockd is running, it will just lock the image files. All you have to do is make sure the virtlockd service is installed on every node. (It is socket-activated, so you don’t need to enable it), and tell libvirt’s qemu driver to use it:

--- /etc/libvirt/qemu.conf ---
lock_manager = "lockd"

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Setting up virtlockd on NFS

  1. ablab

    Device files have mandatory locking when opened O_EXCL, I hope libvirtd uses that (qemu by default doesn’t).

    • rich

      I think the problem is locking across nodes (libvirtd internally deals with exclusive access within a node). I’m fairly sure O_EXCL does nothing for clustered LVM or iSCSI LUNs.

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