qemu-kvm with cache=none fails on ext4 filesystem with journal_data option

 qemu kvm with cache=none fails on ext4 filesystem with journal data option

Kvm has become one of the major virtualization technologies the last years. For Redhat Linux it has even become the default virtualization solution. Kvm´s IO performance is hardly competitive to other virtualization solutions when using the default options. Especially when using qcow2 images, the IO performance of kvm/qemu can be greatly improved by disabling the cache of the underlying host filesystem. This can be done by starting kvm with the cache=none option, in example with the options

-drive file=my_image.qcow2,index=0,media=disk,cache=none

instead of just supplying the image file with -hda my_image.qcow2. Then the image file is being opened using the O_DIRECT flag, bypassing the page cache. If the underlying filesystem does not support the O_DIRECT flag, this fails with the error message:

could not open disk image my_image.qcow2: Invalid argument

This is the case for an ext4 filesystem with full journaling enabled. One can easily test if the O_DIRECT flag is supported by the underlying filesystem with a simple dd command on the host:

dd if=some_file of=/dev/null iflag=direct

If the O_DIRECT flag is not supported it results in the following error:

dd: opening `some_file’: Invalid argument

Thus, if safety concerns do not apply, one does not want to use full journaling, to increase performance. The journaling options can be set either in /etc/fstab or in the filesystem itself. For the fstab case the red marked part of the following example entry has to be removed.

/dev/sda7 / ext4 defaults,noatime,nodiratime,async, data=journal 0 1

If the journaling option is set in the filesystem, this can be shown and edited with the tune2fs command. In example tune2fs -l /dev/sda7 displays information on the filesystem on /dev/sda7. If full journaling is enabled, the output contains the journal_data mount option:

Default mount options:    journal_data

The option can be removed with tune2fs -o^journal_data /dev/sda7. Afterwards the output of tune2fs -l does not contain the journal_data mount option any more:

Default mount options:    (none)

In both cases the filesystem has to be remounted to activate the changes. Afterwards qemum-kvm works with the cache=none option, as described above, and with increased IO performance.

Jürgen

References:
[1] itscblog.tamu.edu
[2] blog.nkadesign.com

 

 

 

 

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