Run "zpool labelclear" when reusing storages used to be other pool member.

We should execute zpool labelclear command to erase ZFS pool information on target disks when we create a new pool by reusing storages which have used to be other pool member.

Trying to create a new pool with reused storages is most often failed with the following message:

# zpool create ztank da0p3
invalid vdev specification
use '-f' to override the following errors:
/dev/da0p3 is part of potentially active pool 'zroot'

The command noticed kindly, but zroot pool has been definitely destroyed and I surely want to create ztank with da0p3 in this example. Although I feel ZFS had better clear the label, ZFS is even capable to undo the zpool destory, so they don't clear it, I guess. FYI: About restoring destroyed pool, see zpool import -D option.

However, we can unexpectedly create a new pool with storages remaining old label without the notice. If it so happened, it is really nightmare. There will be invalid old pool and valid new pool on same disks in administrative information. It looks obviously mess-up. The following is a reproduction log:

# zpool status
  pool: newtank
 state: ONLINE
  scan: none requested

        NAME        STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        newtank     ONLINE       0     0     0
          da0p3     ONLINE       0     0     0

errors: No known data errors

  pool: oldtank
 state: UNAVAIL
  scan: none requested

        NAME                      STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        oldtank                   UNAVAIL      0     0     0
          1234567890123456789     UNAVAIL      0     0     0

errors: No known data errors

The log shows two pools, newtank and oldtank, which consist of each different storage. Actually, the oldtank has been already destroyed pool which consisted of da0p3. And now, it is member of the newtank. ZFS system somehow recognise the invalid oldtank. I don't get it…

If that happens, it is past saving. We can't destroy the oldtank by reason of non-existent pool, and also can't do anything with vdev number of “1234567890123456789”. Just because we can't do anything, DO NOT EXECUTE zpool labelcelar IN THIS STAGE. Otherwise both of pools will be destroyed. _:(´ཀ`」∠):_ (It's my real experience…)

For upon reason, we never forget to do zpool labelclear when creating new pools.

(2017-11-14 追記)

The problem occurred just at the right moment. Get the screen shot.

Steps are…

  1. Destroy previous zroot pool (red) and do labelclear.
  2. Create new zroot pool (green).
  3. Install FreeBSD 11.0-RELEASE newly.
  4. Run freebsd-update to upgrade to 11.1-RELEASE.
  5. Reboot the system, but failed to boot at Trying to mount root sequence.
    • I think in retrospect the previous pool might appear at this step and the system try to mount it.
  6. I booted the system with kernel.old and tried to roll back to the latest 11.0-RELEASE with freebsd-update.
  7. Broke the system completely. Never so much as boot loader can load kernel or zfs module.
  8. Boot from an installer media, run zpool import and get the above screen shot.

I think I surely ran labelclear. I was wondering if I used wrong zpool.cache file. No idea.

(2017-11-16 追記)

I… I need to tell you something.

The system recognised the old zroot in spite of doing labelclear and zero-filling with dd to each partition again. I ran zpool labelclear da0, then it disappeared at last. Of course, the first GPT table is broken in this way. (Nonetheless it is able to recover from second table.) I have no idea what the pool label is on GPT area, that is, what I created the pool without partitioning. How did this happen!?


Do execute zpool labelclear to all target devices /dev/daX and partitions /dev/daXpY. Fill entire disk by zero if you will.

  • en/blog/2017/2017-11-09.txt
  • Last modified: 2019-08-19 22:47
  • by Decomo