Manage logical volumes with GUI tools

Fair Serving

Actions

KVPM provides both traditional menus and buttonbars for easy selection of individual functions. Context-sensitive buttons above the tables in color enable only those features that make sense in the respective tabs. Grayed-out buttons indicate functions you cannot use in the current context.

A third operator element comprises shortcut menus accessed by right-clicking a component in a table. The context menu options allow the same actions as the buttonbars and menubars, but they can be selected more quickly.

To create a new volume group, for example, right-click on the desired block device in the Storage Devices tab and select Create volume group . You need to remove old partition schemes on the block devices beforehand; otherwise, creating a volume group will fail. After deleting old partitions with the Create or remove a partition table item, you can generate new volume groups. Another tab shows the corresponding details.

Clicking in the menu generates a new logical volume in the volume group tab that can extend over multiple physical devices; you can specify names and sizes in the dialog box. Next, choose a filesystem for the new logical volume. Right-click to select Filesystem operations | Make or remove filesystem . Enable one of the supported filesystems in the dialog that appears: KVPM offers a large number of filesystems from which to choose. However, ext4 is the default; general options for ext filesystems, and specifically for ext4, appear in two additional tabs. After selecting a filesystem, mount it via Filesystem operations | Mount filesystem .

Group Dynamics

The Groups register not only shows detailed information about each volume group but offers features for managing logical volumes within a group. You can access most functions in a context-sensitive way using the horizontal buttonbar or by right-clicking on the desired volume in the table view (Figure 17).

Figure 17: KVPM provides extensive management options in the Group tabs.

You can shrink, grow, or rename volumes using the corresponding menu entries. You can also create snapshots at this point. Another option lets you split or merge volume groups from the Volume Groups menu. The menus also provide an option for deleting and creating new groups and logical drives, as well as for filling empty space.

KVPM makes it possible to manage LVM systems with virtually no compromises in terms of functionality compared with using the command line.

Conclusions

All of the tools I presented substantially facilitate the handling of LVM volume groups in clear-cut environments. Except for GParted, the tools demonstrate only small differences in functionality (see Table 1). Although GParted is suitable for growing, shrinking, and moving drives, it does not create new volumes and does not let you retrofit additional mass storage.

Table 1

Graphical LVM Management Tools*

Feature LVM GUI blivet-gui GParted YaST KVPM
Create PVs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Enlarge PVs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Create PVs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Create VGs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Create VGs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Enlarge VGs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Reduce VGs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Enlarge LVs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Decrease LVs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Specify the Size of the PE Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Delete LVs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Delete VGs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Decrease LVs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Create Mirrored/Striped LVs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Merge PVs Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Generate Snapshots Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Selectable Filesystems ext2/3/4 ext2/3/4, GFS2, FS-Reiser, Btrfs, XFS No Yes Yes
Packages RPM, DEB, Arch RPM, DEB#, Arch RPM, DEB, Arch, TXZ RPM# RPM, DEB, Arch, TXZ
* LVs, logical volumes; PE, physical extents; PVs, physical volumes; VGs, volume groups.
# DEB has its own Ubuntu PPA; RPM package is only available for openSUSE.

KVPM provides a very solid functional scope with a clear operating concept but suffers from poor maintenance: The administrators of current Linux distributions need strong nerves to compile the program from source because of the many dependencies. In the test for this article, KVPM proved to be quite unstable under Ubuntu.

Blivet-gui and LVM GUI, on the other hand, adapt very well to existing LVM installations and prove to be very versatile, with both programs largely covering day-to-day tasks. YaST also manages LVM systems with attention to detail, but is limited to openSUSE and its derivatives.

In any case, you will want to opt for one of these tools if you continuously work with LVM. Because these tools support different filesystems, changing the tool could cause problems.

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