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Working with the Filesystem Table

Linux Tips by Burleson Consulting

When adding a disk or changing disk layout it is necessary to modify the file system table.  The table is found in a file called /etc/fstab.  The following listing contains the contents of fstab on the test server at this point: 

$ cat /etc/fstab

LABEL=/                 /                       ext3    defaults        1 1
LABEL=/boot             /boot                   ext3    defaults        1 2
none                    /dev/pts                devpts  gid=5,mode=620  0 0
none                    /dev/shm                tmpfs   defaults        0 0
none                    /proc                   proc    defaults        0 0
none                    /sys                    sysfs   defaults        0 0
/dev/hdf2               swap                    swap    defaults        0 0
/dev/cdrom              /mnt/cdrom              udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0
/dev/cdrom1             /mnt/cdrom1             udf,iso9660 noauto,owner,kudzu,ro 0 0
/dev/hdc4               /mnt/zip                auto    noauto,owner,kudzu 0 0
/dev/fd0                /mnt/floppy             auto    noauto,owner,kudzu 0 0

Each line in the fstab file consists of six fields separated by spaces or tabs. 

The contents of the fields are described in Table 3.2, as follows:




The physical device or remote file system being described


The mount point where the file system will be mounted


The type of file system on this device


A list of options which mount uses when mounting the file system.


This field is used by the dump backup utility to determine if a file system should be backed up. If this field is zero, the dump will ignore that file system.


This field is used by the fsck file system check utility to determine the order in which file systems should be checked. If the field is zero, fsck will not check this file system.

Table 3.2: fstab file fields

The /etc/fstab file can be modified to change what devices will be mounted where or, in our case, to make a new device mount at boot.  Using a text editor (like vi which covered in chapter 5) we can carefully add the following line to the /etc/fstab file to make new1 mount at boot:

/dev/hdb1         /new1       ext3  defaults    1 1

Our /new1 partition will now be available every time we reboot the system!  Be careful to double and triple check any changes to the /etc/fstab file before rebooting the system.

LVM: The Logical Volume Manager

While the management of hard disk volumes is an advanced topic and will not be presented in detail in this guide, the Logical Volume Manager (LVM) subsystem provided in Linux for Systems Administrators is worthy of mention.  It can be used to create and manage disk volume groups from physical disk volumes.  By allowing physically separate disks to be combined into a single logical disk, LVM simplifies many aspects of disk management.  When working from a simple Linux workstation with one or two internal disk drives, there will likely be no need to use LVM; however when administrating Linux servers that have arrays of disks attached LVM can be invaluable.

The user must have root access in order to use the LVM subsystem. LVM is a parameter driven subsystem controlled by specifications found in the text file located at /etc/lvm/lvm.conf.  The configuration file contains several comments which describe each section.  The LVM subsystem has over 40 commands for the creation and management of volume groups.  Though this book does not cover LVM, table 3.3 below contains a partial list of available LVM subcommands to give you a taste of what LVM is capable of:




Change attributes of a logical volume


Create a logical volume in an existing volume group


Display attributes of a logical volume


Add space to a logical volume


List devices that may be used as physical volumes


Reduce the size of a logical volume


Resize a logical volume


Create a volume group


Display volume group information


Add physical volumes to a volume group

Table 3.3: LVM subcommands and their functions

It is clear that LVM is a rather sophisticated subsystem, and users definitely need to know what they are doing and be very careful when using it; otherwise, it would be easy to clobber the disk configuration and render the system unusable.

This is an excerpt from "Easy Linux Commands" by Linux guru Jon Emmons.  You can purchase it for only $19.95 (30%-off) at this link.



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