Chapter 12. Using GFS with DRBD

This chapter outlines the steps necessary to set up a DRBD resource as a block device holding a shared Global File System (GFS). It covers both GFS and GFS2.

In order to use GFS on top of DRBD, you must configure DRBD in dual-primary mode, which is available in DRBD 8.0 and later.


All cluster file systems require fencing - not only via the DRBD resource, but STONITH! A faulty member must be killed.

You’ll want these settings:

disk {
        fencing resource-and-stonith;
handlers {
        outdate-peer "/sbin/"

There must be no volatile caches! Please see for some more information.

GFS primer

The Red Hat Global File System (GFS) is Red Hat's implementation of a concurrent-access shared storage file system. As any such filesystem, GFS allows multiple nodes to access the same storage device, in read/write fashion, simultaneously without risking data corruption. It does so by using a Distributed Lock Manager (DLM) which manages concurrent access from cluster members.

GFS was designed, from the outset, for use with conventional shared storage devices. Regardless, it is perfectly possible to use DRBD, in dual-primary mode, as a replicated storage device for GFS. Applications may benefit from reduced read/write latency due to the fact that DRBD normally reads from and writes to local storage, as opposed to the SAN devices GFS is normally configured to run from. Also, of course, DRBD adds an additional physical copy to every GFS filesystem, thus adding redundancy to the concept.

GFS makes use of a cluster-aware variant of LVM, termed Cluster Logical Volume Manager or CLVM. As such, some parallelism exists between using DRBD as the data storage for GFS, and using DRBD as a Physical Volume for conventional LVM.

GFS file systems are usually tightly integrated with Red Hat's own cluster management framework, the Red Hat Cluster Suite (RHCS). This chapter explains the use of DRBD in conjunction with GFS in the RHCS context.

GFS, CLVM, and the Red Hat Cluster Suite are available in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and distributions derived from it, such as CentOS. Packages built from the same sources are also available in Debian GNU/Linux. This chapter assumes running GFS on a Red Hat Enterprise Linux system.