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Solaris 9 can’t import it’s SVM metasets when booting

I came across this particular issue for a client, and it turned out to be a harsh gotcha in Solaris 9.

Quick recap: SVM metasets are a group of disks (usually from a SAN) that have their own meta state databases. They grew out of Sun Cluster as a way to share storage between cluster nodes, using SVM, and have since become a really handy way of managing SAN volumes.

Anyway, Solaris 9 4/04 introduced the ability to have ‘autotake’ metasets. Basically, one host was the master, and it could automatically import and manage the metaset on boot. This was great, because it finally swept aside the last baggage of Sun Cluster, and meant you could have your metasets referenced in /etc/vfstab and mount them at boot – just like real disks.

And there was much rejoicing across the land.

In this particular case, there was a host running Solaris 9 (for client software reasons) which had many terabytes of SAN LUNs mounted as metasets. I say had because when it rebooted, the machine said it couldn’t autotake the disk set because it wasn’t the owner, before dropping to single user mode complaining it couldn’t check any of the filesystems.

Odd. A quick check from single user mode, and yes indeed – the metaset was configured for autotake, but the host wasn’t the owner. Comment the (many) filesystems out of /etc/vfstab, continue the boot, and check again once at run level 3. Hang on – now the host is the metaset owner.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot, over. A quick Google threw up far too many suggestions to hack the startup scripts so that the SVM daemons start before the filesystem mounts. Not a great idea.

A very quick dig through Sunsolve turned up Sun BugID 6276747 – “Auto-take fails to work with fabric disks”
Turns out that this is an issue with the Solaris 9 SAN Foundation Suite, and how the kernel initialises SAN fabric LUNs, as opposed to FC-AL LUNs.

Adding the following like to /etc/system:

set fcp:ssfcp_enable_auto_configuration = 1

Followed by a quick reboot later, and behold! metasets are imported and mounted correctly, no further problems. This appears to be purely an issue in Solaris 9, so apart from old client apps I’m hoping we can leave this one behind.

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