What tells initramfs or the Ubuntu Server boot process how to assemble RAID arrays?

Posted by Brad on Server Fault See other posts from Server Fault or by Brad
Published on 2010-12-05T20:39:15Z Indexed on 2011/01/14 21:55 UTC
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The simple question: how does initramfs know how to assemble mdadm RAID arrays at startup?

My problem: I boot my server and get:

Gave up waiting for root device.
ALERT! /dev/disk/by-uuid/[UUID] does not exist. Dropping to a shell!

This happens because /dev/md0 (which is /boot, RAID 1) and /dev/md1 (which is /, RAID 5) are not being assembled correctly. What I get is /dev/md0 isn't assembled at all. /dev/md1 is assembled, but instead of using /dev/sda2, /dev/sdb2, /dev/sdc2, and /dev/sdd2, it uses /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, /dev/sdc, /dev/sdd.

To fix this and boot my server I do:

$(initramfs) mdadm --stop /dev/md1
$(initramfs) mdadm --assemble /dev/md0 /dev/sda1 /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1 /dev/sdd1
$(initramfs) mdadm --assemble /dev/md1 /dev/sda2 /dev/sdb2 /dev/sdc2 /dev/sdd2
$(initramfs) exit

And it boots properly and everything works. Now I just need the RAID arrays to assemble properly at boot so I don't have to manually assemble them. I've checked /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf and the UUIDs of the two arrays listed in that file match the UUIDs from $ mdadm --detail /dev/md[0,1].

Other details: Ubuntu 10.10, GRUB2, mdadm

UPDATE: I have a feeling it has to do with superblocks. $ mdadm --examine /dev/sda outputs the same thing as $ mdadm --examine /dev/sda2. $ mdadm --examine /dev/sda1 seems to be fine because it outputs information about /dev/md0. I don't know if this is the problem or not, but it seems to fit with /dev/md1 getting assembled with /dev/sd[abcd] instead of /dev/sd[abcd]2.

I tried zeroing the superblock on /dev/sd[abcd]. This removed the superblock from /dev/sd[abcd]2 as well and prevented me from being able to assemble /dev/md1 at all. I had to $ mdadm --create to get it back. This also put the super blocks back to the way they were.

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