Basic Configuration

Some basic rules first:

  • The Master server works best on a dedicated machine, preferably with a SSD drive.
  • The Chunk server works best with at least one dedicated disk.
  • Do not put a metalogger on the same machine as the master server, it doesn’t make your metadata any safer. Metaloggers are completely optional, though ;) It is fine, however, to install a metalogger along with a chunk server
  • Increase your data safety by using shadow master servers

There are a range of settings that must be done on every server before we start working on the LizardFS configuration itself.

  • adjust network settings
  • adjust kernel settings

Basic operating system settings for LizardFS

LizardFS runs on many UNIX and UNIX like operating systems. We will be concentrating here on Debian and RH like systems to keep things simple. For other OSes, please consult the LizardFS’ers CookBook.

The /etc/hosts file

Since LizardFS is a network based Filesystem, your network setup is crucial, especially the name resolution service which helps computers in the network find each other. There are two basic ways that computers find each other by name: static entries in the /etc/hosts file or the DNS System.

The DNS system provides a central database that resolves names to their respective IP addresses. In many environments DNS is either automatic and linked to other services (Active Directory, DHCP, etc ..) so that we strongly recommend to use the /etc/hosts file to resolve between the LizardFS cluster components. This will keep the cluster from loosing Data in case somebody changes something in the DNS service. It involves some additional work from the Administrator responsible for the LizardFS cluster to keep the files up to date, but will safeguard you from storage failure and data loss in case something happens to the DNS system.

The /etc/hosts file has not changed in the last 5 decades and is basically the same on all operating systems. it’s structure is:

<ip-address>   <hostname> <alias>

one line per IP address.

Example:        localhost   mfsmaster   shadowmaster    chunkserver1 metalogger    chunkserver2 cgiserver    chunkserver3

In this example your Master is on and your Shadow Master on Chunkserver1 also provides the metalogger and is located at Chunkserver2 also provides the cgi web interface and is located at Chunkserver3 is at

The ntpd time service

Basic network adjustments for Linux

By default Linux systems come with relatively small window sizes for tcp and udp frames which could lead to fragmentation and lowered performance. Especialy if your servers use 10G or faster interfaces we would recommend to adjust your network settings by adding the following entries to your /etc/ sysctl.conf file or placing a new file called “lizardfs.conf” into the /etc/ sysconf.d/ directory containing the following entries:

net.ipv4.tcp_window_scaling = 1

net.core.optmem_max= 2048000

# set minimum size, initial size, and maximum size in bytes
net.ipv4.tcp_rmem= 1024000 8738000 1677721600
net.ipv4.tcp_wmem= 1024000 8738000 1677721600
net.ipv4.tcp_mem= 1024000 8738000 1677721600
net.ipv4.udp_mem= 1024000 8738000 1677721600
net.core.netdev_max_backlog = 30000
net.ipv4.tcp_no_metrics_save = 1

These values are taken from a 10G setup, you probably need to adjust them if you have lower or faster networking interfaces.

File systems for LizardFS servers


Due to its speed and stability we recommend the XFS or ZFS filesystems on production servers. XFS was developed for Silicon Graphics, and is a mature and stable filesystem. ZFS was developed by SUN Microsystems and is used for heavy duty storage by Systems from numerous Storage System Vendors.

For the Master servers

The Master keeps all of his records in memory but does frequent backups to drives which should therefore be very fast, but do not have to be very large. A standard 250G SSD should suffice. As a file system we would recommend something fast, like XFS. Do not use a HW RAID controller to mirror your drives, SSDs usualy have identical lifespan so block level mirroring would just lead to two dead SSDs instead of one. An alternative would be ZFS mirroring which is not lowlevel but data based and does not always write the same block to both devices to the same position.

For the chunkservers

If you are using XFS as the filesystem for the chunkserver directories, we recommend the following mount options:


This disables unneeded features from the mount which gives a slight performance increase especially in case of many chunks. It also increases the size of the directories gives lizardfs more space in to put its data.

Depending on the hardware you use and ifyou are utilising caching RAID controllers, it could make sense to adjust the scheduler on your filesystems. How you do a that is documented here:

Probably you will want the deadline scheduler but your mileage may vary.

Why you should do that and what performance gains you may achieve can be found here:

If you would like to use the high performance ZFS filesystem, please check the LizardFS’ers CookBook for further information.

Configuring your Master

The master server is the heart of the LizardFS ecosystem. It keeps all meta information about every file, every chunk and every slice if in ec mode. It knows what is where and how to find it. It is also resposible to organize georeplication and topology and fix the effects of broken drives and chunkservers.

The metadata database

For the master to work, you need to first give it a file where it will keep its metadata database. The default location, which can be adjusted in the mfsmaster.cfg(5) file, is:


There is an empty metdata file available which you can use to create a new one. If you want to use the default location, just issue a:

$ cp /var/lib/mfs/metadata.mfs.empty /var/lib/mfs/metadata.mfs

to copy the empty template into the default location and create a new database.

Now that you have a metadata database, you need to provide your master server with the required information for operation.

The mfsmaster.cfg file

In the mfsmaster.cfg file, there are a lot of settings for advanced usage which we will get into in the Advanced configuration Guide. For a basic setup the things that are important are:

Current personality of this instance of the metadata server. Valid values are master, shadow and ha-cluster-managed. If the installation is managed by an HA cluster the only valid value is ha-cluster-managed, otherwise the only valid values are master and shadow, in which case only one metadata server in LizardFS shall have master personality.


means that this instance of metadata server acts as main metadata server govering all file system metadata modifications.


means that this instance of the metadata server acts as backup metadata server ready for immediate deployment as the new master in case of a failure of the current master.

Metadata server personality can be changed at any moment as long as one changes personality from shadow to master, changing personality the other way around is forbidden.

PERSONALITY = ha-cluster-managed

means that this instance is managed by a HA cluster, server runs in shadow mode as long as its not remotly promoted to master. For details on running LizardFS with HA Master please refer to Deploying LizardFS as a HA Cluster .

The addresses your master server is to listen on, if not all:

ATOML_LISTEN_HOST # IP address to listen on for metalogger connections (* means any)
MATOCS_LISTEN_HOST # IP address to listen on for chunkserver connections (* means any)
MATOTS_LISTEN_HOST # IP address to listen on for tapeserver connections (* means any)
MATOCL_LISTEN_HOST # IP address to listen on for client (mount) connections (* means any)

The ports your master server is supposed to listen on, if not the default ones:

MATOML_LISTEN_PORT # port to listen on for metalogger connections (default is 9419)
MATOCS_LISTEN_PORT # port to listen on for chunkserver connections (default is 9420)
MATOCL_LISTEN_PORT # port to listen on for client (mount) connections (default is 9421)
MATOTS_LISTEN_PORT # Port to listen on for tapeserver connections (default is 9424)

The user and group you would like your master to run as (default is mfs):

WORKING_USER # user to run daemon as
WORKING_GROUP # group to run daemon as (optional - if empty then the default user group will be used)

Where to store metadata and lock files:

DATA_PATH # where to store metadata files and lock file

Should the access time for every file be recorded or not ?

# when this option is set to 1 inode access time is not updated on every #
# access, otherwise (when set to 0) it is updated (default is 0)

All other settings should be left alone for a basic system.

Layout, access rights and other options

Now that we have the main configuration done, lets configure the layout of our LizardFS. This is done in the mfsexports.cfg(5) file, unless you specify a different file in your mfsmaster.cfg(5) file.


LizardFS creates one big namespace. For fine tuned access you should create entries here for subdirectories and assign those to groups to have different clients access only different parts of the tree.

This file contains all the settings required to create a LizardFS namespace and set its access rights and network permissions. Its format is pretty simple:


Basically you define which network address or address range has access to which directory plus options for that access.

The address scheme looks like the following:

* all addresses
n.n.n.n single IP address
n.n.n.n/b IP class specified by network address and bits number
n.n.n.n/m.m.m.m IP class specified by network address and mask
f.f.f.f-t.t.t.t IP range specified by from-to addresses (inclusive)

Your LizardFS namespace is a tree, starting with the root entry /. So in the directory field you can specify the whole namespace, /, or subdirectories like: /home or /vm1. The special value . represents the meta file system, which is described in Mounting the metadata . You can specify different access rights, options, passwords and user mappings for every single directory and split your namespace utlising those options into multiple sub namespaces if required. Check out the examples for how different directories can be set to different options.


To give you maximum flexibility LizardFS provides a range of mount options so you can finetune settings for every piece of your namespace.

None of them are required. If you do not provide any options, the default set of:


will be used.

The options are:

ro, readonly
export tree in read-only mode (default)
rw, readwrite
export tree in read-write mode
disable testing of group access at mfsmaster level (it’s still done at mfsmount level) - in this case “group” and “other” permissions are logically added; needed for supplementary groups to work. (mfsmaster only receives information about the users primary group)
allows reconnecting of already authenticated client from any IP address (the default is to check the IP address on reconnect)
maps root (uid=0) accesses to the given user and group (similarly to maproot option in NFS mounts); USER and GROUP can be given either as name or number; if no group is specified, USERs primary group is used. Names are resolved on mfsmaster side (see note below).
like above but maps all non privileged users (uid!=0) accesses to a given user and group (see notes below).
rejects access from clients older than specified
mingoal=N, maxgoal=N
specifies range in which goal can be set by users
mintrashtime=TDUR, *maxtrashtime=TDUR
specifies range in which trashtime can be set by users. See Trash directory
password=PASS, md5pass=MD5
requires password authentication in order to access specified resource
allows to mount any subdirectory of the specified directory (similarly to NFS)
allows non-root users to use filesystem mounted in the meta mode (option available only in this mode). See Mounting the metadata .


*                    /       ro
# Give everybody access to the whole namespace but read-only. Subdirs can
# not be mounted directly and must be accessed from /.       /       rw
# Allow - to access the whole namespace read/write.       /       rw,alldirs,maproot=0,password=passcode
# Allow - to access the whole namespace read/write
# with the password *passcode* and map the root user to the UID *0*.    /test   rw,maproot=nobody,password=test
# Allow - to access the directory /test except for its
# subdirectores in a read/write fashion using the password *test*. Map all
# accesses by the root user to the user *nobody*. /public rw,mapall=1000:1000
# Give access to the /public directory to the network
# in a read/write fashion and map everybody to the UID *1000* and GID *1000*.          /      rw,alldirs,maproot=0,mintrashtime=2h30m,maxtrashtime=2w
# Give access to the whole namespae to the network in a
# read/write fashion. Also allowsubdirectories to be mounted directly by
# those clients.
# Map the root user to UID *0*. Allow users to set the trahtime (time when
# files in the tash get autopruned) between
# 2h30m and 2 weeks.

Utilising all of these options you will be able to do quite flexible setups, like optimizing for virtualization as described in out Cookbook at Using LizardFS for Virtualization Farms .

Now that you know how to setup your namespace, the next step would be to set custom goals/replication modes, described in Configuring Replication Modes and QoS/IO Limits, described in the Configuring QoS chapter.

Network awareness / topology are further advanced topics, especialy required for georeplication. A description of how to set them up can be found here Configuring rack awareness (network topology) .

Configuring your Shadowmaster

Your shadowmaster is configured in nearly the same way as your Master. Since it is supposed to take over the functionality of the Master in case of a failure of the Master, it has to keep its metadatabase in sync and besides that have all the configurations of the masterserver mirrored.

Settings specific to the Shadowmaster:

In the mfsmaster.cfg file:

# Set the personality to be that of a Shadowmaster:

# Set the address where the metadatabase is synced from:

The files mfsexports.cfg, mfsgoals.cfg and mfstopology.cfg must be synchronized with the master server.

Configuring your Chunkservers

Your chunkservers are pretty simple to set up. Usualy, if your /etc/hosts files are setup correctly with the address of the master server and you do not require labeling (Labeling your chunkserver), the mfschunkserver.cfg file can stay as it is. If you require to lock down the masterserver address, adjust the following line:


to lock down the master server to the address.

Now you need to specify where the chunkserver process will keep the actual data. This is done in the mfshdd.cfg file. You specify directories with their full path, one per line.


# use directory '/mnt/hd1' with default options:

# use directory '/mnt/hd2', but replicate all data from it:

# use directory '/mnt/hd3', but try to leave 5GiB on it:
/mnt/hd3 -5GiB

# use directory '/mnt/hd4', but use only 1.5TiB on it:
/mnt/hd4 1.5TiB

The settings always assume that the directory is a dedicated device, so a HDD, a Raidset or a SSD and bases it’s space calculation on that.

Once this is setup, your chunkserver is ready and actively taking part in your lizardfs.

To remove a directory from being used by lizardfs, just add a * to the beginning of the line in mfshdd.cfg:

# use directory '/mnt/hd2', but replicate all data from it:

Lizardfs will replicate all the data from it somewhere else. Once you see in the webinterface that all data has been safely copied away, you can update the file and remove the line and than remove the device associated with it from your chunkserver.

Configuring the Metalogger

The metalogger is used for desaster recovery should the master and shadowservers fail. The metadatabase can be rebuild from them. The setup is straightforward. You basically do not need to setup anything if your /etc/hosts is setup accordingly, otherwise you need to set the following in your mfsmetalogger.cfg file:

# address of LizardFS master host to connect with (default is mfsmaster)

# number of LizardFS master port to connect with (default is 9419)

and you are ready to go.

Configuring the Web Interface

The lizardfs cgiserver does not require much configuration. After the installation either follow the example installation and just add an entry for mfsmaster to your /etc/hosts file, or, ...

Labeling your chunkserver

To be able to setup which goals are going to be performed on which chunkservers, you need to be able to identify them in your goal definition. To achieve this, we use labels.

The label for the Chunkservers is set in the mfschunkserver.cfg file.

LABEL = ssd

After changing the configuration you must reload the chunkserver:

$ mfschunkserver -c path/to/config reload

If there is no LABEL entry in the config, the chunkserver has a default label of “_” (i.e. wildcard), which has a special meaning when defining goals and means “any chunkserver”.

Multiple chunkservers can have the same label than they are basically a group of chunkservers where you can use the label to write a chunk or a piece of XOR or EC set to “any” chunkserver in that group.

Show labels of connected chunkservers

From the command line:

$ lizardfs-admin list-chunkservers <master ip> <master port>

Via the cgi (webinterface):

In the ‘Servers’ tab in the table ‘Chunk Servers’ there is a column ‘label’ where labels of the chunkservers are displayed.