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Chapter 14. Controlling LVM allocation

By default, a volume group allocates physical extents according to common-sense rules such as not placing parallel stripes on the same physical volume. This is the normal allocation policy. You can use the --alloc argument of the vgcreate command to specify an allocation policy of contiguous, anywhere, or cling. In general, allocation policies other than normal are required only in special cases where you need to specify unusual or nonstandard extent allocation.

14.1. LVM allocation policies

When an LVM operation needs to allocate physical extents for one or more logical volumes, the allocation proceeds as follows:

  • The complete set of unallocated physical extents in the volume group is generated for consideration. If you supply any ranges of physical extents at the end of the command line, only unallocated physical extents within those ranges on the specified physical volumes are considered.
  • Each allocation policy is tried in turn, starting with the strictest policy (contiguous) and ending with the allocation policy specified using the --alloc option or set as the default for the particular logical volume or volume group. For each policy, working from the lowest-numbered logical extent of the empty logical volume space that needs to be filled, as much space as possible is allocated, according to the restrictions imposed by the allocation policy. If more space is needed, LVM moves on to the next policy.

The allocation policy restrictions are as follows:

  • An allocation policy of contiguous requires that the physical location of any logical extent that is not the first logical extent of a logical volume is adjacent to the physical location of the logical extent immediately preceding it.

    When a logical volume is striped or mirrored, the contiguous allocation restriction is applied independently to each stripe or mirror image (leg) that needs space.

  • An allocation policy of cling requires that the physical volume used for any logical extent be added to an existing logical volume that is already in use by at least one logical extent earlier in that logical volume. If the configuration parameter allocation/cling_tag_list is defined, then two physical volumes are considered to match if any of the listed tags is present on both physical volumes. This allows groups of physical volumes with similar properties (such as their physical location) to be tagged and treated as equivalent for allocation purposes.

    When a Logical Volume is striped or mirrored, the cling allocation restriction is applied independently to each stripe or mirror image (leg) that needs space.

  • An allocation policy of normal will not choose a physical extent that shares the same physical volume as a logical extent already allocated to a parallel logical volume (that is, a different stripe or mirror image/leg) at the same offset within that parallel logical volume.

    When allocating a mirror log at the same time as logical volumes to hold the mirror data, an allocation policy of normal will first try to select different physical volumes for the log and the data. If that is not possible and the allocation/mirror_logs_require_separate_pvs configuration parameter is set to 0, it will then allow the log to share physical volume(s) with part of the data.

    Similarly, when allocating thin pool metadata, an allocation policy of normal will follow the same considerations as for allocation of a mirror log, based on the value of the allocation/thin_pool_metadata_require_separate_pvs configuration parameter.

  • If there are sufficient free extents to satisfy an allocation request but a normal allocation policy would not use them, the anywhere allocation policy will, even if that reduces performance by placing two stripes on the same physical volume.

The allocation policies can be changed using the vgchange command.


Be aware that future updates can bring code changes in layout behaviour according to the defined allocation policies. For example, if you supply on the command line two empty physical volumes that have an identical number of free physical extents available for allocation, LVM currently considers using each of them in the order they are listed; there is no guarantee that future releases will maintain that property. If it is important to obtain a specific layout for a particular Logical Volume, then you should build it up through a sequence of lvcreate and lvconvert steps such that the allocation policies applied to each step leave LVM no discretion over the layout.

To view the way the allocation process currently works in any specific case, you can read the debug logging output, for example by adding the -vvvv option to a command.

14.2. Preventing allocation on a physical volume

You can prevent allocation of physical extents on the free space of one or more physical volumes with the pvchange command. This may be necessary if there are disk errors, or if you will be removing the physical volume.

The following command disallows the allocation of physical extents on /dev/sdk1.

# pvchange -x n /dev/sdk1

You can also use the -xy arguments of the pvchange command to allow allocation where it had previously been disallowed.

14.3. Extending a logical volume with the cling allocation policy

When extending an LVM volume, you can use the --alloc cling option of the lvextend command to specify the cling allocation policy. This policy will choose space on the same physical volumes as the last segment of the existing logical volume. If there is insufficient space on the physical volumes and a list of tags is defined in the /etc/lvm/lvm.conf file, LVM will check whether any of the tags are attached to the physical volumes and seek to match those physical volume tags between existing extents and new extents.

For example, if you have logical volumes that are mirrored between two sites within a single volume group, you can tag the physical volumes according to where they are situated by tagging the physical volumes with @site1 and @site2 tags. You can then specify the following line in the lvm.conf file:

cling_tag_list = [ "@site1", "@site2" ]

In the following example, the lvm.conf file has been modified to contain the following line:

cling_tag_list = [ "@A", "@B" ]

Also in this example, a volume group taft has been created that consists of the physical volumes /dev/sdb1, /dev/sdc1, /dev/sdd1, /dev/sde1, /dev/sdf1, /dev/sdg1, and /dev/sdh1. These physical volumes have been tagged with tags A, B, and C. The example does not use the C tag, but this will show that LVM uses the tags to select which physical volumes to use for the mirror legs.

# pvs -a -o +pv_tags /dev/sd[bcdefgh]
  PV         VG   Fmt  Attr PSize  PFree  PV Tags
  /dev/sdb1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g A
  /dev/sdc1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g B
  /dev/sdd1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g B
  /dev/sde1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g C
  /dev/sdf1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g C
  /dev/sdg1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g A
  /dev/sdh1  taft lvm2 a--  15.00g 15.00g A

The following command creates a 10 gigabyte mirrored volume from the volume group taft.

# lvcreate --type raid1 -m 1 -n mirror --nosync -L 10G taft
  WARNING: New raid1 won't be synchronised. Don't read what you didn't write!
  Logical volume "mirror" created

The following command shows which devices are used for the mirror legs and RAID metadata subvolumes.

# lvs -a -o +devices
  LV                VG   Attr       LSize  Log Cpy%Sync Devices
  mirror            taft Rwi-a-r--- 10.00g       100.00 mirror_rimage_0(0),mirror_rimage_1(0)
  [mirror_rimage_0] taft iwi-aor--- 10.00g              /dev/sdb1(1)
  [mirror_rimage_1] taft iwi-aor--- 10.00g              /dev/sdc1(1)
  [mirror_rmeta_0]  taft ewi-aor---  4.00m              /dev/sdb1(0)
  [mirror_rmeta_1]  taft ewi-aor---  4.00m              /dev/sdc1(0)

The following command extends the size of the mirrored volume, using the cling allocation policy to indicate that the mirror legs should be extended using physical volumes with the same tag.

# lvextend --alloc cling -L +10G taft/mirror
  Extending 2 mirror images.
  Extending logical volume mirror to 20.00 GiB
  Logical volume mirror successfully resized

The following display command shows that the mirror legs have been extended using physical volumes with the same tag as the leg. Note that the physical volumes with a tag of C were ignored.

# lvs -a -o +devices
  LV                VG   Attr       LSize  Log Cpy%Sync Devices
  mirror            taft Rwi-a-r--- 20.00g       100.00 mirror_rimage_0(0),mirror_rimage_1(0)
  [mirror_rimage_0] taft iwi-aor--- 20.00g              /dev/sdb1(1)
  [mirror_rimage_0] taft iwi-aor--- 20.00g              /dev/sdg1(0)
  [mirror_rimage_1] taft iwi-aor--- 20.00g              /dev/sdc1(1)
  [mirror_rimage_1] taft iwi-aor--- 20.00g              /dev/sdd1(0)
  [mirror_rmeta_0]  taft ewi-aor---  4.00m              /dev/sdb1(0)
  [mirror_rmeta_1]  taft ewi-aor---  4.00m              /dev/sdc1(0)

14.4. Differentiating between LVM RAID objects using tags

You can assign tags to LVM RAID objects to group them, so that you can automate the control of LVM RAID behavior, such as activation, by group.

The physical volume (PV) tags are responsible for the allocation control in the LVM raid, as opposed to logical volume (LV) or volume group (VG) tags, because allocation in lvm occurs at the PV level based on allocation policies. To distinguish storage types, such as NVMe, SSD, or HDD, by their different properties, tag them appropriately. Red Hat recommends that you tag each new PV appropriately after you add it to a VG.

This procedure adds object tags to your logical volumes, assuming /dev/sda is an SSD, and /dev/sd[b-f] are HDDs with one partition.


  • The lvm2 package is installed.
  • Storage devices to use as PVs are available.


  1. Create a volume group.

    # vgcreate MyVG /dev/sd[a-f]1
  2. Add tags to your physical volumes.

    # pvchange --addtag ssds /dev/sda1
    # pvchange --addtag hdds /dev/sd[b-f]1
  3. Create a RAID6 logical volume.

    # lvcreate --type raid6 --stripes 3 -L1G -nr6 MyVG @hdds
  4. Create a linear cache pool volume.

    # lvcreate -nr6pool -L512m MyVG @ssds
  5. Convert the RAID6 volume to be cached.

    # lvconvert --type cache --cachevol MyVG/r6pool MyVG/r6

Additional resources

  • The lvcreate(8), lvconvert(8), lvmraid(7) and lvmcache(7) man pages.