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Applies to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP4

18 Managing multipath I/O for devices

This section describes how to manage failover and path load balancing for multiple paths between the servers and block storage devices by using Multipath I/O (MPIO).

18.1 Understanding multipath I/O

Multipathing is the ability of a server to communicate with the same physical or logical block storage device across multiple physical paths between the host bus adapters in the server and the storage controllers for the device, typically in Fibre Channel (FC) or iSCSI SAN environments.

Linux multipathing provides connection fault tolerance and can provide load balancing across the active connections. When multipathing is configured and running, it automatically isolates and identifies device connection failures, and reroutes I/O to alternate connections.

Multipathing provides fault tolerance against connection failures, but not against failures of the storage device itself. The latter is achieved with complementary techniques like mirroring.

18.1.1 Multipath terminology

Storage array

A hardware device with many disks and multiple fabrics connections (controllers) that provides SAN storage to clients. Storage arrays typically have RAID and failover features and support multipathing. Historically, active/passive (failover) and active/active (load-balancing) storage array configurations were distinguished. These concepts still exist but they are merely special cases of the concepts of path groups and access states supported by modern hardware.

Host, host system

The computer running SUSE Linux Enterprise Server which acts as a client system for a storage array.

Multipath map, multipath device

A set of path devices. It represents a storage volume on a storage array and is seen as a single block device by the host system.

Path device

A member of a multipath map, typically a SCSI device. Each path device represents a unique connection between the host computer and the actual storage volume, for example, a logical unit from an iSCSI session.


“World Wide Identifier”. multipath-tools uses the WWID to determine which low-level devices should be assembled into a multipath map. The WWID must be distinguished from the configurable map name (see Section 18.12, “Multipath device names and WWIDs”).

uevent, udev event

An event sent by the kernel to user space and processed by the udev subsystem. Uevents are generated when devices are added or removed, or when they change their properties.

Device mapper

A framework in the Linux kernel for creating virtual block devices. I/O operations to mapped devices are redirected to the underlying block devices. Device mappings may be stacked. The device mapper implements its own event signaling, also known as “device mapper events” or “dm events”.


The initial RAM file system, also referred to as “initial RAM disk” (initrd) for historical reasons (see Section 16.1, “Terminology”).


“Asymmetric Logical Unit Access”, a concept introduced with the SCSI standard SCSI-3. Storage volumes can be accessed via multiple ports, which are organized in port groups with different states (active, standby, etc.). ALUA defines SCSI commands to query the port groups and their states and change the state of a port group. Modern storage arrays that support SCSI usually support ALUA, too.

18.2 Hardware support

The multipathing drivers and tools are available on all architectures supported by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The generic, protocol-agnostic driver works with most multipath-capable storage hardware on the market. Some storage array vendors provide their own multipathing management tools. Consult the vendor’s hardware documentation to determine what settings are required.

18.2.1 Multipath implementations: device mapper and NVMe

The traditional, generic implementation of multipathing under Linux uses the device mapper framework. For most device types like SCSI devices, device mapper multipathing is the only available implementation. Device mapper multipath is highly configurable and flexible.

The Linux NVM Express (NVMe) kernel subsystem implements multipathing natively in the kernel. This implementation creates less computational overhead for NVMe devices, which are typically fast devices with very low latencies. Native NVMe multipathing requires no user space component. Since SLE 15, native multipathing has been the default for NVMe multipath devices. For details, refer to Section 17.2.4, “Multipathing”.

This chapter documents device mapper multipath and its user-space component, multipath-tools. multipath-tools also has limited support for native NVMe multipathing (see Section 18.13, “Miscellaneous options”).

18.2.2 Storage array autodetection for multipathing

Device mapper multipath is a generic technology. Multipath device detection requires only that the low-level (for example, SCSI) devices are detected by the kernel, and that device properties reliably identify multiple low-level devices as being different “paths” to the same volume rather than actually different devices.

The multipath-tools package detects storage arrays by their vendor and product names. It provides built-in configuration defaults for a large variety of storage products. Consult the hardware documentation of your storage array: some vendors provide specific recommendations for Linux multipathing configuration.

If you need to apply changes to the built-in configuration for your storage array, read Section 18.8, “Multipath configuration”.

Important: Disclaimer about built-in hardware properties

multipath-tools has built-in presets for many storage arrays. The existence of such presets for a given storage product does not imply that the vendor of the storage product has tested the product with dm-multipath, nor that the vendor endorses or supports the use of dm-multipath with the product. Always consult the original vendor documentation for support-related questions.

18.2.3 Storage arrays that require specific hardware handlers

Some storage arrays require special commands for failover from one path to the other, or non-standard error-handling methods. These special commands and methods are implemented by hardware handlers in the Linux kernel. Modern SCSI storage arrays support the “Asymmetric Logical Unit Access” (ALUA) hardware handler defined in the SCSI standard. Besides ALUA, the SLE kernel contains hardware handlers for Netapp E-Series (RDAC), the Dell/EMC CLARiiON CX family of arrays, and legacy arrays from HP.

Since Linux kernel 4.4, the Linux kernel has automatically detected hardware handlers for most arrays, including all arrays supporting ALUA. The only requirement is that the device handler modules are loaded at the time the respective devices are probed. The multipath-tools package ensures this by installing appropriate configuration files. Once a device handler is attached to a given device, it cannot be changed anymore.

18.3 Planning for multipathing

Use the guidelines in this section when planning your multipath I/O solution.

18.3.1 Prerequisites

  • The storage array you use for the multipathed device must support multipathing. For more information, see Section 18.2, “Hardware support”.

  • You need to configure multipathing only if multiple physical paths exist between host bus adapters in the server and host bus controllers for the block storage device.

  • For some storage arrays, the vendor provides its own multipathing software to manage multipathing for the array’s physical and logical devices. In this case, you should follow the vendor’s instructions for configuring multipathing for those devices.

  • When using multipathing in a virtualization environment, the multipathing is controlled in the host server environment. Configure multipathing for the device before you assign it to a virtual guest machine.

18.3.2 Multipath installation types

We distinguish installation types by the way the root device is handled. Section 18.4, “Installing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on multipath systems” describes how the different setups are created during and after installation. Root file system on multipath (SAN-boot)

The root file system is on a multipath device. This is typically the case for diskless servers that use SAN storage exclusively. On such systems, multipath support is required for booting, and multipathing must be enabled in the initramfs. Root file system on a local disk

The root file system (and possibly some other file systems) is on local storage, for example, on a directly attached SATA disk or local RAID, but the system additionally uses file systems in the multipath SAN storage. This system type can be configured in three different ways:

Multipath setup for local disk

All block devices are part of multipath maps, including the local disk. The root device appears as a degraded multipath map with just one path. This configuration is created if multipathing was enabled during the initial system installation with YaST.

Local disk is excluded from multipath

In this configuration, multipathing is enabled in the initramfs, but the root device is explicitly excluded from multipath (see Section 18.11.1, “The blacklist section in multipath.conf). Procedure 18.1, “Disabling multipathing for the root disk after installation” describes how to set up this configuration.

Multipath disabled in the initramfs

This setup is created if multipathing was not enabled during the initial system installation with YaST. This configuration is rather fragile; consider using one of the other options instead.

18.3.3 Disk management tasks

Use third-party SAN array management tools or the user interface of your storage array to create logical devices and assign them to hosts. Make sure to configure the host credentials correctly on both sides.

You can add or remove volumes to a running host, but detecting the changes may require rescanning SCSI targets and reconfiguring multipathing on the host. See Section 18.14.6, “Scanning for new devices without rebooting”.

Note: Storage processors

On some disk arrays, the storage array manages the traffic through storage processors. One processor is active and the other one is passive until there is a failure. If you are connected to the passive storage processor, you might not see the expected LUNs, or you might see the LUNs but encounter I/O errors when you try to access them.

If a disk array has more than one storage processor, ensure that the SAN switch has a connection to the active storage processor that owns the LUNs you want to access.

18.3.4 Software RAID and complex storage stacks

Multipathing is set up on top of basic storage devices such as SCSI disks. In a multi-layered storage stack, multipathing is always the bottom layer. Other layers such as software RAID, Logical Volume Management, block device encryption, etc. are layered on top of it. Therefore, for each device that has multiple I/O paths and that you plan to use in a software RAID, you must configure the device for multipathing before you attempt to create the software RAID device.

18.3.5 High-availability solutions

High-availability solutions for clustering storage resources run on top of the multipathing service on each node. Make sure that the configuration settings in the /etc/multipath.conf file on each node are consistent across the cluster.

Make sure that multipath devices have the same name across all devices. Refer to Section 18.12, “Multipath device names and WWIDs” for details.

The Distributed Replicated Block Device (DRBD) high-availability solution for mirroring devices across a LAN runs on top of multipathing. For each device that has multiple I/O paths and that you plan to use in a DRDB solution, you must configure the device for multipathing before you configure DRBD.

Special care must be taken when using multipathing together with clustering software that relies on shared storage for fencing, such as pacemaker with sbd. See Section 18.9.2, “Queuing policy on clustered servers” for details.

18.4 Installing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on multipath systems

No special installation parameters are required for the installation of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on systems with multipath hardware.

18.4.1 Installing without connected multipath devices

You may want to perform installation on a local disk, without configuring the fabric and the storage first, with the intention to add multipath SAN devices to the system later. In this case, the installation will proceed like on a non-multipath system. After installation, multipath-tools will be installed, but the systemd service multipathd.service will be disabled. The system will be configured as described in Multipath disabled in the initramfs in Section, “Root file system on a local disk”. Before adding SAN hardware, you will need to enable and start multipathd.service. We recommend creating a blacklist entry in the /etc/multipath.conf for the root device (see Section 18.11.1, “The blacklist section in multipath.conf).

18.4.2 Installing with connected multipath devices

If multipath devices are connected to the system at installation time, YaST will detect them and display a pop-up window asking you whether multipath should be enabled before entering the partitioning stage.

YaST multipath dialog

If you select “No” at this prompt (not recommended), the installation will proceed as in Section 18.4.1, “Installing without connected multipath devices”. In the partitioning stage, do not use/edit devices that will later be part of a multipath map.

If you select “Yes” at the multipath prompt, multipathd will run during the installation. No device will be added to the blacklist section of /etc/multipath.conf, thus all SCSI and DASD devices, including local disks, will appear as multipath devices in the partitioning dialogs. After installation, all SCSI and DASD devices will be multipath devices, as described in Section, “Root file system on multipath (SAN-boot)”.

Procedure 18.1: Disabling multipathing for the root disk after installation

This procedure assumes that you installed on a local disk and enabled multipathing during installation, so that the root device is on multipath now, but you prefer to set up the system as described in Local disk is excluded from multipath in Section, “Root file system on a local disk”.

  1. Check your system for /dev/mapper/... references to your local root device, and replace them with references that will still work if the device is not a multipath map anymore (see Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps”). If the following command finds no references, you do not need to apply changes:

    > sudo grep -rl /dev/mapper/ /etc
  2. Switch to by-uuid persistent device policy for dracut (see Section, “Persistent device names in the initramfs”):

    > echo 'persistent_policy="by-uuid"' | \
          sudo tee /etc/dracut.conf.d/10-persistent-policy.conf
  3. Determine the WWID of the root device:

    > multipathd show paths format "%i %d %w %s"
    0:2:0:0 sda 3600605b009e7ed501f0e45370aaeb77f IBM,ServeRAID M5210

    This command prints all paths devices with their WWIDs and vendor/product information. You will be able to identify the root device (here, the ServeRAID device) and note the WWID.

  4. Create a blacklist entry in /etc/multipath.conf (see Section 18.11.1, “The blacklist section in multipath.conf) with the WWID you just determined (do not apply these settings just yet):

    blacklist {
        wwid 3600605b009e7ed501f0e45370aaeb77f
  5. Rebuild the initramfs:

    > sudo dracut -f
  6. Reboot. Your system should boot with a non-multipath root disk.

18.5 Updating SLE on multipath systems

When updating your system online, you can proceed as described in Chapter 5, Upgrading online.

The offline update of your system is similar to the fresh installation as described in Section 18.4, “Installing SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on multipath systems”. There is no blacklist, so if the user selects to enable multipath, the root device will appear as a multipath device, even if it is normally not one. When dracut builds the initramfs during the update procedure, it sees a different storage stack than it would see on the booted system. See Section, “Persistent device names in the initramfs” and Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps”.

18.6 Multipath management tools

The multipathing support in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is based on the Device Mapper Multipath module of the Linux kernel and the multipath-tools user space package.

The generic multipathing capability is handled by the Device Mapper Multipath (DM-MP) module. For details, refer to Section 18.6.1, “Device mapper multipath module”.

The packages multipath-tools and kpartx provide tools that handle automatic path discovery and grouping. The tools are the following:


The daemon to set up and monitor multipath maps, and a command-line client to communicate with the daemon process. See Section 18.6.2, “The multipathd daemon”.


The command-line tool for multipath operations. See Section 18.6.3, “The multipath command”.


The command-line tool for managing “partitions” on multipath devices. See Section 18.7.3, “Partitions on multipath devices and kpartx.


The command-line tool for managing SCSI persistent reservations. See Section 18.6.4, “SCSI persistent reservations and mpathpersist.

18.6.1 Device mapper multipath module

The Device Mapper Multipath (DM-MP) module dm-multipath.ko provides the generic multipathing capability for Linux. DM-MPIO is the preferred solution for multipathing on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SCSI and DASD devices, and can be used for NVMe devices as well.

Note: Using DM-MP for NVMe devices

Since SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15, native NVMe multipathing (see Section 18.2.1, “Multipath implementations: device mapper and NVMe”) has been recommended for NVMe and used by default. To disable native NVMe multipathing and use device mapper multipath instead (not recommended), boot with the kernel parameter nvme-core.multipath=0.

The Device Mapper Multipath module handles the following tasks:

  • Distributing load over multiple paths inside the active path group.

  • Noticing I/O errors on path devices, and marking these as failed, so that no I/O will be sent to them.

  • Switching path groups when all paths in the active path group have failed.

  • Either failing or queuing I/O on the multipath device if all paths have failed, depending on configuration.

The following tasks are handled by the user-space components in the multipath-tools package, not by the Device Mapper Multipath module:

  • Discovering devices representing different paths to the same storage device and assembling multipath maps from them.

  • Collecting path devices with similar properties into path groups.

  • Monitoring path devices actively for failure or reinstantiation.

  • Monitoring of addition and removal of path devices.

  • The Device Mapper Multipath module does not provide an easy-to-use user interface for setup and configuration.

For details about the components from the multipath-tools package, refer to Section 18.6.2, “The multipathd daemon”.

Note: Failures that multipath prevents

DM-MPIO protects against failures in the paths to the device, and not failures in the device itself, such as media errors. The latter kind of errors must be prevented by other means, such as replication.

18.6.2 The multipathd daemon

multipathd is the most important part of a modern Linux device mapper multipath setup. It is normally started through the systemd service multipathd.service (see Section 18.7.1, “Enabling, starting, and stopping multipath services”).

multipathd serves the following tasks (some of them depend on the configuration):

  • On startup, detects path devices and sets up multipath maps from detected devices.

  • Monitors uevents and device mapper events, adding or removing path mappings to multipath maps as necessary and initiating failover or failback operations.

  • Sets up new maps on the fly when new path devices are discovered.

  • Checks path devices at regular intervals to detect failure, and tests failed paths to reinstate them if they become operational again.

  • When all paths fail, multipathd either fails the map, or switches the map device to queuing mode for a given time interval.

  • Handles path state changes and switches path groups or regroups paths, as necessary.

  • Tests paths for “marginal” state, i.e. shaky fabrics conditions that cause path state flipping between operational and non-operational.

  • Handles SCSI persistent reservation keys for path devices if configured. See Section 18.6.4, “SCSI persistent reservations and mpathpersist.

multipathd also serves as a command-line client to process interactive commands by sending them to the running daemon. The general syntax to send commands to the daemon is as follows:

> sudo multipathd COMMAND


> sudo multipathd -k'COMMAND'

There is also an interactive mode that allows sending multiple subsequent commands:

> sudo multipathd -k
Note: How multipath and multipathd work together

Many multipathd commands have multipath equivalents. For example, multipathd show topology does the same thing as multipath -ll. The notable difference is that the multipathd command inquires the internal state of the running multipathd daemon, whereas multipath obtains information directly from the kernel and I/O operations.

If the multipath daemon is running, we recommend making modifications to the system by using the multipathd commands. Otherwise, the daemon may notice configuration changes and react to them. In some situations, the daemon might even try to undo the applied changes. multipath automatically delegates certain possibly dangerous commands, like destroying and flushing maps, to multipathd if a running daemon is detected.

The list below describes frequently used multipathd commands:

show topology

Shows the current map topology and properties. See Section 18.14.2, “Interpreting multipath I/O status”.

show paths

Shows the currently known path devices.

show paths format "FORMAT STRING"

Shows the currently known path devices using a format string. Use show wildcards to see a list of supported format specifiers.

show maps

Shows the currently configured map devices.

show maps format FORMAT STRING

Shows the currently configured map devices using a format string. Use show wildcards to see a list of supported format specifiers.

show config local

Shows the current configuration that multipathd is using.


Rereads configuration files, rescans devices, and sets up maps again. This is basically equivalent to a restart of multipathd. A few options cannot be modified without a restart. They are mentioned in the man page multipath.conf(5). The reconfigure command reloads only map devices that have changed in some way. To force the reloading of every map device, use reconfigure all (available since SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP4; on previous versions, reconfigure reloaded every map).


Unconfigure and delete the given map device and its partitions. MAP DEVICE NAME can be a device node name like dm-0, a WWID, or a map name. The command fails if the device is in use.

switchgroup map MAP DEVICE NAME group N

Switch to the path group with the given numeric index (starting at 1). This is useful for maps with manual failback (see Section 18.9, “Configuring policies for failover, queuing, and failback”).

Additional commands are available to modify path states, enable or disable queuing, and more. See multipathd(8) for details.

18.6.3 The multipath command

Even though multipath setup is mostly automatic and handled by multipathd, multipath is still useful for some administration tasks. Several examples of the command usage follow:


Detects path devices and configures all multipath maps that it finds.

multipath -d

Similar to multipath, but does not set up any maps (“dry run”).

multipath DEVICENAME

Configures a specific multipath device. DEVICENAME can denote a member path device by its device node name (/dev/sdb) or device number in major:minor format. Alternatively, it can be the WWID or name of a multipath map.

multipath -f DEVICENAME

Unconfigures ("flushes") a multipath map and its partition mappings. The command will fail if the map or one of its partitions is in use. See above for possible values of DEVICENAME.

multipath -F

Unconfigures ("flushes") all multipath maps and their partition mappings. The command will fail for maps in use.

multipath -ll

Displays the status and topology of all currently configured multipath devices. See Section 18.14.2, “Interpreting multipath I/O status”.

multipath -ll DEVICENAME

Displays the status of a specified multipath device. See above for possible values of DEVICENAME.

multipath -t

Shows the internal hardware table and the active configuration of multipath. Refer to multipath.conf(5) for details about the configuration parameters.

multipath -T

Has a similar function to the multipath -t command but shows only hardware entries matching the hardware detected on the host.

The option -v controls the verbosity of the output. The provided value overrides the verbosity option in /etc/multipath.conf. See Section 18.13, “Miscellaneous options”.

18.6.4 SCSI persistent reservations and mpathpersist

The mpathpersist utility is used to manage SCSI persistent reservations on Device Mapper Multipath devices. Persistent reservations serve to restrict access to SCSI Logical Units to certain SCSI initiators. In multipath configurations, it is important to use the same reservation keys for all I_T nexuses (paths) for a given volume; otherwise, creating a reservation on one path device would cause I/O errors on other paths.

Use this utility with the reservation_key attribute in the /etc/multipath.conf file to set persistent reservations for SCSI devices. If (and only if) this option is set, the multipathd daemon checks persistent reservations for newly discovered paths or reinstated paths.

You can add the attribute to the defaults section or the multipaths section of multipath.conf. For example:

multipaths {
    multipath {
        wwid             3600140508dbcf02acb448188d73ec97d
        alias            yellow
        reservation_key  0x123abc

After setting the reservation_key parameter for all mpath devices applicable for persistent management, reload the configuration using multipathd reconfigure.

Note: Using “reservation_key file

If the special value reservation_key file is used in the defaults section of multipath.conf, reservation keys can be managed dynamically in the file /etc/multipath/prkeys using mpathpersist.

This is the recommended way to handle persistent reservations with multipath maps. It is available from SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP4.

Use the command mpathpersist to query and set persistent reservations for multipath maps consisting of SCSI devices. Refer to the manual page mpathpersist(8) for details. The command-line options are the same as those of the sg_persist from the sg3_utils package. The sg_persist(8) manual page explains the semantics of the options in detail.

In the following examples, DEVICE denotes a device mapper multipath device like /dev/mapper/mpatha. The commands below are listed with long options for better readability. All options have single-letter replacements, like in mpathpersist -oGS 123abc DEVICE.

mpathpersist --in --read-keys DEVICE

Read the registered reservation keys for the device.

mpathpersist --in --read-reservation DEVICE

Show existing reservations for the device.

mpathpersist --out --register --param-sark=123abc DEVICE

Register a reservation key for the device. This will add the reservation key for all I_T nexuses (path devices) on the host.

mpathpersist --out --reserve --param-rk=123abc --prout-type=5 DEVICE

Create a reservation of type 5 (“write exclusive - registrants only”) for the device, using the previously registered key.

mpathpersist --out --release --param-rk=123abc --prout-type=5 DEVICE

Release a reservation of type 5 for the device.

mpathpersist --out --register-ignore --param-sark=0 DEVICE

Delete a previously existing reservation key from the device.

18.7 Configuring the system for multipathing

18.7.1 Enabling, starting, and stopping multipath services

To enable multipath services to start at boot time, run the following command:

> sudo systemctl enable multipathd

To manually start the service in the running system, enter:

> sudo systemctl start multipathd

To restart the service, enter:

> sudo systemctl restart multipathd

In most situations, restarting the service is not necessary. To simply have multipathd reload its configuration, run:

> sudo systemctl reload multipathd

To check the status of the service, enter:

> sudo systemctl status multipathd

To stop the multipath services in the current session, run:

> sudo systemctl stop multipathd multipathd.socket

Stopping the service does not remove existing multipath maps. To remove unused maps, run:

> sudo multipath -F
Warning: Keep multipathd.service enabled

We strongly recommend keeping multipathd.service always enabled and running on systems with multipath hardware. The service does support systemd's socket activation mechanism, but we do not recommend that you rely on that. Multipath maps will not be set up during boot if the service is disabled.

Note: Disabling multipath

If you need to disable multipath despite the warning above, for example, because a third-party multipathing software is going to be deployed, proceed as follows. Be sure that the system uses no hard-coded references to multipath devices (see Section 18.15.2, “Understanding device referencing issues”).

To disable multipathing just for a single system boot, use the kernel parameter multipath=off. This affects both the booted system and the initramfs, which does not need to be rebuilt in this case.

To disable multipathd services permanently, so that they will not be started on future system boots, run the following commands:

> sudo systemctl disable multipathd multipathd.socket
> sudo dracut --force --omit multipath

(Whenever you disable or enable the multipath services, rebuild the initramfs. See Section 18.7.4, “Keeping the initramfs synchronized”.)

If you want to make sure multipath devices do not get set up, even when running multipath manually, add the following lines at the end of /etc/multipath.conf before rebuilding the initramfs:

blacklist {
    wwid .*

18.7.2 Preparing SAN devices for multipathing

Before configuring multipath I/O for your SAN devices, prepare the SAN devices, as necessary, by doing the following:

  • Configure and zone the SAN with the vendor’s tools.

  • Configure permissions for host LUNs on the storage arrays with the vendor’s tools.

  • If SUSE Linux Enterprise Server ships no driver for the host bus adapter (HBA), install a Linux driver from the HBA vendor. See the vendor’s specific instructions for more details.

If multipath devices are detected and multipathd.service is enabled, multipath maps should be created automatically. If this does not happen, Section 18.15.3, “Troubleshooting steps in emergency mode” lists some shell commands that can be used to examine the situation. When the LUNs are not seen by the HBA driver, check the zoning setup in the SAN. In particular, check whether LUN masking is active and whether the LUNs are correctly assigned to the server.

If the HBA driver can see LUNs, but no corresponding block devices are created, additional kernel parameters may be needed. See TID 3955167: Troubleshooting SCSI (LUN) Scanning Issues in the SUSE Knowledge base at https://www.suse.com/support/kb/doc.php?id=3955167.

18.7.3 Partitions on multipath devices and kpartx

Multipath maps can have partitions like their path devices. Partition table scanning and device node creation for partitions is done in user space by the kpartx tool. kpartx is automatically invoked by udev rules; there is usually no need to run it manually. See Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps” for ways to refer to multipath partitions.

Note: Disabling invocation of kpartx

The skip_kpartx option in /etc/multipath.conf can be used to disable invocation of kpartx on selected multipath maps. This may be useful on virtualization hosts, for example.

Partition tables and partitions on multipath devices can be manipulated as usual, using YaST or tools like fdisk or parted. Changes applied to the partition table will be noted by the system when the partitioning tool exits. If this does not work (usually because a device is busy), try multipathd reconfigure, or reboot the system.

18.7.4 Keeping the initramfs synchronized


Make sure that the initial RAM file system (initramfs) and the booted system behave consistently regarding the use of multipathing for all block devices. Rebuild the initramfs after applying multipath configuration changes.

If multipathing is enabled in the system, it also needs to be enabled in the initramfs and vice versa. The only exception to this rule is the option Multipath disabled in the initramfs in Section, “Root file system on a local disk”.

The multipath configuration must be synchronized between the booted system and the initramfs. Therefore, if you change any of the files: /etc/multipath.conf, /etc/multipath/wwids, /etc/multipath/bindings, or other configuration files, or udev rules related to device identification, rebuild initramfs using the command:

> sudo dracut -f

If the initramfs and the system are not synchronized, the system will not boot properly, and the start-up procedure may result in an emergency shell. See Section 18.15, “Troubleshooting MPIO” for instructions on how to avoid or repair such a scenario. Enabling or disabling multipathing in the initramfs

Special care must be taken if the initramfs is rebuilt in non-standard situations, for example, from a rescue system or after booting with the kernel parameter multipath=off. dracut will automatically include multipathing support in the initramfs if and only if it detects that the root file system is on a multipath device while the initramfs is being built. In such cases, it is necessary to enable or disable multipathing explicitly.

To enable multipath support in the initramfs, run the command:

> sudo dracut --force --add multipath

To disable multipath support in initramfs, run the command:

> sudo dracut --force --omit multipath Persistent device names in the initramfs

When dracut generates the initramfs, it must refer to disks and partitions to be mounted in a persistent manner, to make sure the system will boot correctly. When dracut detects multipath devices, it will use the DM-MP device names such as


for this purpose by default. This is good if the system always runs in multipath mode. But if the system is started without multipathing, as described in Section, “Enabling or disabling multipathing in the initramfs”, booting with such an initramfs will fail, because the /dev/mapper devices will not exist. See Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps” for another possible problem scenario, and some background information.

To prevent this from happening, change dracut's persistent device naming policy by using the --persistent-policy option. We recommend setting the by-uuid use policy:

> sudo dracut --force --omit multipath --persistent-policy=by-uuid

See also Procedure 18.1, “Disabling multipathing for the root disk after installation” and Section 18.15.2, “Understanding device referencing issues”.

18.8 Multipath configuration

The built-in multipath-tools defaults work well for most setups. If customizations are needed, a configuration file needs to be created. The main configuration file is /etc/multipath.conf. In addition, files in /etc/multipath/conf.d/ are taken into account. See Section, “Additional configuration files and precedence rules” for additional information.

Important: Vendor recommendations and built-in hardware defaults

Some storage vendors publish recommended values for multipath options in their documentation. These values often represent what the vendor has tested in their environment and found most suitable for the storage product. See the disclaimer in Section 18.2.2, “Storage array autodetection for multipathing”.

multipath-tools has built-in defaults for many storage arrays that are derived from the published vendor recommendations. Run multipath -T to see the current settings for your devices and compare them to vendor recommendations.

18.8.1 Creating /etc/multipath.conf

It is recommended that you create a minimal /etc/multipath.conf that just contains those settings you want to change. In many cases, you do not need to create /etc/multipath.conf at all.

If you prefer working with a configuration template that contains all possible configuration directives, run:

multipath -T >/etc/multipath.conf

See also Section 18.14.1, “Best practices for configuration”.

18.8.2 multipath.conf syntax

The /etc/multipath.conf file uses a hierarchy of sections, subsections and option/value pairs.

  • White space separates tokens. Consecutive white space characters are collapsed into a single space, unless quoted (see below).

  • The hash (#) and exclamation mark (!) characters cause the rest of the line to be discarded as a comment.

  • Sections and subsections are started with a section name and an opening brace ({) on the same line, and end with a closing brace (}) on a line on its own.

  • Options and values are written on one line. Line continuations are unsupported.

  • Options and section names must be keywords. The allowed keywords are documented in multipath.conf(5).

  • Values may be enclosed in double quotes ("). They must be enclosed in quotes if they contain white space or comment characters. A double quote character inside a value is represented by a pair of double quotes ("").

  • The values of some options are POSIX regular expressions (see regex(7)). They are case sensitive and not anchored, so “bar” matches “rhabarber”, but not “Barbie”.

The following example illustrates the syntax:

section {
    subsection {
        option1 value
        option2      "complex value!"
        option3    "value with ""quoted"" word"
    } ! subsection end
} # section end Additional configuration files and precedence rules

After /etc/multipath.conf, the tools read files matching the pattern /etc/multipath.conf.d/*.conf. The additional files follow the same syntax rules as /etc/multipath.conf. Sections and options can occur multiple times. If the same option in the same section is set in multiple files, or on multiple lines in the same file, the last value takes precedence. Separate precedence rules apply between multipath.conf sections. See below.

18.8.3 multipath.conf sections

The /etc/multipath.conf file is organized into the following sections. Some options can occur in more than one section. See multipath.conf(5) for details.


General default settings.

Important: Overriding built-in device properties

Built-in hardware-specific device properties take precedence over the settings in the defaults section. Changes must therefore be made in the devices section or in the overrides section.


Lists devices to ignore. See Section 18.11.1, “The blacklist section in multipath.conf.


Lists devices to be multipathed even though they are matched by the blacklist. See Section 18.11.1, “The blacklist section in multipath.conf.


Settings specific to the storage controller. This section is a collection of device subsections. Values in this section override values for the same options in the defaults section, and the built-in settings of multipath-tools.

device entries in the devices section are matched against the vendor and product of a device using regular expressions. These entries will be “merged”, setting all options from matching sections for the device. If the same option is set in multiple matching device sections, the last device entry takes precedence, even if it is less “specific” than preceding entries. This applies also if the matching entries appear in different configuration files (see Section, “Additional configuration files and precedence rules”). In the following example, a device SOMECORP STORAGE will use fast_io_fail_tmo 15.

devices {
    device {
        vendor SOMECORP
        product STOR
        fast_io_fail_tmo 10
    device {
        vendor SOMECORP
        product .*
        fast_io_fail_tmo 15

Settings for individual multipath devices. This section is a list of multipath subsections. Values override the defaults and devices sections.


Settings that override values from all other sections.

18.8.4 Applying multipath.conf modifications

To apply the configuration changes, run:

> sudo multipathd reconfigure

Do not forget to synchronize with the configuration in the initramfs. See Section 18.7.4, “Keeping the initramfs synchronized”.

Warning: Do not apply settings using multipath

Do not apply new settings with the multipath command while multipathd is running. This may result in an inconsistent and possibly broken setup.

Note: Verifying a modified setup

It is possible to test modified settings first before they are applied, by running:

> sudo multipath -d -v2

This command shows new maps to be created with the proposed topology, but not whether maps will be removed/flushed. To obtain more information, run with increased verbosity:

> sudo multipath -d -v3 2>&1 | less

18.9 Configuring policies for failover, queuing, and failback

The goal of multipath I/O is to provide connectivity fault tolerance between the storage system and the server. The desired default behavior depends on whether the server is a stand-alone server or a node in a high-availability cluster.

This section discusses the most important multipath-tools configuration parameters for achieving fault tolerance.


The time interval (in seconds) between health checks for path devices. The default is 5 seconds. Failed devices are checked at this time interval. For healthy devices, the time interval may be increased up to max_polling_interval seconds.


If this is set to yes (default, recommended), multipathd automatically detects the best path checking algorithm.


The algorithm used to check path state. If you need to enable the checker, disable detect_checker as follows:

defaults {
	  detect_checker no

The following list contains only the most important algorithms. See multipath.conf(5) for the full list.


Send TEST UNIT READY command. This is the default for SCSI devices with ALUA support.


Read a device sector using asynchronous I/O (aio).


Device-specific checker for NetAPP E-Series and similar arrays.


No path checking is performed.


If a device does not respond to a path checker command in the given time, it is considered failed. The default is the kernel's SCSI command timeout for the device (usually 30 seconds).


If an error on the SCSI transport layer is detected (for example on a Fibre Channel remote port), the kernel transport layer waits for this amount of time (in seconds) for the transport to recover. After that, the path device fails with “transport offline” state. This is very useful for multipath, because it allows a quick path failover for a frequently occurring class of errors. The value must match typical time scale for reconfiguration in the fabric. The default value of 5 seconds works well for Fibre Channel. Other transports, like iSCSI, may require longer timeouts.


If a SCSI transport endpoint (for example a Fibre Channel remote port) is not reachable any more, the kernel waits for this amount of time (in seconds) for the port to reappear until it removes the SCSI device node for good. Device node removal is a complex operation which is prone to race conditions or deadlocks and should best be avoided. We therefore recommend setting this to a high value. The special value infinity is supported. The default is 10 minutes. To avoid deadlock situations, multipathd ensures that I/O queuing (see no_path_retry) is stopped before dev_loss_tmo expires.


Determine what happens if all paths of a given multipath map have failed. The possible values are:


Fail I/O on the multipath map. This will cause I/O errors in upper layers such as mounted file systems. The affected file systems, and possibly the entire host, will enter degraded mode.


I/O on the multipath map is queued in the device mapper layer and sent to the device when path devices become available again. This is the safest option to avoid losing data, but it can have negative effects if the path devices do not get reinstated for a long time. Processes reading from the device will hang in uninterruptible sleep (D) state. Queued data occupies memory, which becomes unavailable for processes. Eventually, memory will be exhausted.


N is a positive integer. Keep the map device in queuing mode for N polling intervals. When the time elapses, multipathd fails the map device. If polling_interval is 5 seconds and no_path_retry is 6, multipathd will queue I/O for approximately 6 * 5s = 30s before failing I/O on the map device.


If set to yes and all path devices of a map are deleted (as opposed to just failed), fail all I/O in the map before removing it. The default is no.


If set to yes and all path devices of a map are deleted, wait for holders to close the file descriptors for the map device before flushing and removing it. If paths reappear before the last holder closed the map, the deferred remove operation will be cancelled. The default is no.


If a failed path device in an inactive path group recovers, multipathd reevaluates the path group priorities of all path groups (see Section 18.10, “Configuring path grouping and priorities”). After the reevaluation, the highest-priority path group may be one of the currently inactive path groups. This parameter determines what happens in this situation.

Important: Observe vendor recommendations

The optimal failback policy depends on the property of the storage device. It is therefore strongly encouraged to verify failback settings with the storage vendor.


Nothing happens unless the administrator runs a multipathd switchgroup (see Section 18.6.2, “The multipathd daemon”).


The highest-priority path group is activated immediately. This is often beneficial for performance, especially on stand-alone servers, but it should not be used for arrays on which the change of the path group is a costly operation.


Like immediate, but only perform failback when the path that has just become active is the only healthy path in its path group. This is useful for cluster configurations: It keeps a node from automatically failing back when another node requested a failover before.


N is a positive integer. Wait for N polling intervals before activating the highest priority path group. If the priorities change again during this time, the wait period starts anew.


Set an approximate upper limit for the time (in seconds) spent in SCSI error handling if devices are unresponsive and SCSI commands time out without error response. When the deadline has elapsed, the kernel will perform a full HBA reset.

After modifying the /etc/multipath.conf file, apply your settings as described in Section 18.8.4, “Applying multipath.conf modifications”.

18.9.1 Queuing policy on stand-alone servers

When you configure multipath I/O for a stand-alone server, a no_path_retry setting with value queue protects the server operating system from receiving I/O errors as long as possible. It queues messages until a multipath failover occurs. If “infinite” queuing is not desired (see above), select a numeric value that is deemed high enough for the storage paths to recover under ordinary circumstances (see above).

18.9.2 Queuing policy on clustered servers

When you configure multipath I/O for a node in a high-availability cluster, you want multipath to report the I/O failure to trigger the resource failover instead of waiting for a multipath failover to be resolved. In cluster environments, you must modify the no_path_retry setting so that the cluster node receives an I/O error in relation to the cluster verification process (recommended to be 50% of the heartbeat tolerance) if the connection is lost to the storage system. In addition, you want the multipath failback to be set to manual or followover to avoid a ping-pong of resources because of path failures.

18.10 Configuring path grouping and priorities

Path devices in multipath maps are grouped in path groups, also called priority groups. Only one path group receives I/O at any given time. multipathd assigns priorities to path groups. Out of the path groups with active paths, the group with the highest priority is activated according to the configured failback policy for the map (see Section 18.9, “Configuring policies for failover, queuing, and failback”). The priority of a path group is the average of the priorities of the active path devices in the path group. The priority of a path device is an integer value calculated from the device properties (see the description of the prio option below).

This section describes the multipath.conf configuration parameters relevant for priority determination and path grouping.


Specifies the method used to combine paths into groups. Only the most important policies are listed here; see multipath.conf(5) for other less frequently used values.


One path per path group. This setting is useful for traditional “active/passive” storage arrays.


All paths in one path group. This is useful for traditional “active/active” arrays.


Path devices with the same path priority are grouped together. This option is useful for modern arrays that support asymmetric access states, like ALUA. Combined with the alua or sysfs priority algorithms, the priority groups set up by multipathd will match the primary target port groups that the storage array reports through ALUA-related SCSI commands.

Using the same policy names, the path grouping policy for a multipath map can be changed temporarily with the command:

> sudo multipath -p POLICY_NAME MAP_NAME

If set to on or fpin, “marginal” path devices are sorted into a separate path group. This is independent of the path grouping algorithm in use. See Section 18.13.1, “Handling unreliable (“marginal”) path devices”.


If this is set to yes (default, recommended), multipathd automatically detects the best algorithm to set the priority for a storage device and ignores the prio setting. In practice, this means using the sysfs prio algorithm if ALUA support is detected.


Determines the method to derive priorities for path devices. If you override this, disable detect_prio as follows:

defaults {
	  detect_prio no

The following list contains only the most important methods. Several other methods are available, mainly to support legacy hardware. See multipath.conf(5) for the full list.


Uses SCSI-3 ALUA access states to derive path priority values. The optional exclusive_pref_bit argument can be used to change the behavior for devices that have the ALUA “preferred primary target port group” (PREF) bit set:

	prio alua
	prio_args exclusive_pref_bit

If this option is set, “preferred” paths get a priority bonus over other active/optimized paths. Otherwise, all active/optimized paths are assigned the same priority.


Like alua, but instead of sending SCSI commands to the device, it obtains the access states from sysfs. This causes less I/O load than alua, but is not suitable for all storage arrays with ALUA support.


Uses a constant value for all paths.


Measures I/O latency (time from I/O submission to completion) on path devices, and assigns higher priority to devices with lower latency. See multipath.conf(5) for details. This algorithm is still experimental.


Assigns a priority to paths based on their name, serial number, Host:Bus:Target:Lun ID (HBTL), or Fibre Channel WWN. The priority value does not change over time. The method requires a prio_args argument, see multipath.conf(5) for details. For example:

	prio weightedpath
	prio_args "hbtl 2:.*:.*:.* 10 hbtl 3:.*:.*:.* 20 hbtl .* 1"

This assigns devices on SCSI host 3 a higher priority than devices on SCSI host 2, and all others a lower priority.


Some prio algorithms require extra arguments. These are specified in this option, with syntax depending on the algorithm. See above.


The name of a kernel module that the kernel uses to activate path devices when switching path groups. This option has no effect with recent kernels because hardware handlers are autodetected. See Section 18.2.3, “Storage arrays that require specific hardware handlers”.


The name of a kernel module that is used for load balancing between the paths of the active path group. The available choices depend on the kernel configuration. For historical reasons, the name must always be enclosed in quotes and followed by a “0” in multipath.conf, like this:

    path_selector "queue-length 0"

Estimates the time pending I/O will need to complete on all paths, and selects the path with the lowest value. This is the default.


Estimates future service time based on the historical service time (about which it keeps a moving average) and the number of outstanding requests. Estimates the time pending I/O will need to complete on all paths, and selects the path with the lowest value.


Selects the path with the lowest number of currently pending I/O requests.


Switches paths in round-robin fashion. The number of requests submitted to a path before switching to the next one can be adjusted with the options rr_min_io_rq and rr_weight.


This path selector currently does not work with multipath-tools.

After modifying the /etc/multipath.conf file, apply your settings as described in Section 18.8.4, “Applying multipath.conf modifications”.

18.11 Selecting devices for multipathing

On systems with multipath devices, you might want to avoid setting up multipath maps on some devices (typically local disks). multipath-tools offers various means for configuring which devices should be considered multipath path devices.

Note: multipath on local disks

In general, there is nothing wrong with setting up “degraded” multipath maps with just a single device on top of local disks. It works fine and requires no extra configuration. However, some administrators find this confusing or generally oppose this sort of unnecessary multipathing. Also, the multipath layer causes a slight performance overhead. See also Section, “Root file system on a local disk”.

After modifying the /etc/multipath.conf file, apply your settings as described in Section 18.8.4, “Applying multipath.conf modifications”.

18.11.1 The blacklist section in multipath.conf

The /etc/multipath.conf file can contain a blacklist section that lists all devices that should be ignored by multipathd and multipath. The following example illustrates possible ways of excluding devices:

blacklist {
    wwid 3600605b009e7ed501f0e45370aaeb77f 1
    device {  2
        vendor ATA
        product .*
    protocol scsi:sas 3
    property SCSI_IDENT_LUN_T10 4
    devnode "!^dasd[a-z]*" 5


wwid entries are ideal for excluding specific devices, for example, the root disk.


This device section excludes all ATA devices (the regular expression for product matches anything).


Excluding by protocol allows excluding devices using certain bus types, here SAS. Other common protocol values are scsi:fcp, scsi:iscsi, and ccw. See multipath.conf(5) for more. To see the protocols that paths in your systems are using, run:

> sudo multipathd show paths format "%d %P"

This form is supported since SLES 15 SP1 and SLES 12 SP5.


This property entry excludes devices that have a certain udev property (no matter what the value of the property is).


Excluding devices by devnode is only recommended for classes of devices using regular expressions, like in the example, which excludes everything but DASD devices. Using this for individual devices like sda is discouraged because device node names are not persistent.

The example illustrates special syntax that is only supported in the blacklist and blacklist_exceptions sections: Prefixing the regular expression with an exclamation mark (!) negates the match. Note that the exclamation mark must appear within double quotes.

By default, multipath-tools ignores all devices except SCSI, DASD or NVMe. Technically, the built-in devnode exclude list is this negated regular expression:

    devnode !^(sd[a-z]|dasd[a-z]|nvme[0-9])

18.11.2 The blacklist exceptions section in multipath.conf

Sometimes, it is desired to configure only very specific devices for multipathing. In this case, devices are excluded by default, and exceptions are defined for devices that should be part of a multipath map. The blacklist_exceptions section exists for this purpose. It is typically used like in the following example, which excludes everything except storage with product string “NETAPP”:

blacklist {
     wwid .*
blacklist_exceptions {
     device {
         vendor ^NETAPP$
         product .*

The blacklist_exceptions section supports all methods described for the blacklist section above.

The property directive in blacklist_exceptions is mandatory because every device must have at least one of the “allowed” udev properties to be considered a path device for multipath (the value of the property does not matter). The built-in default for property is

    property (SCSI_IDENT_|ID_WWN)

Only devices that have at least one udev property matching this regular expression will be included.

18.11.3 Other options affecting device selection

Besides the blacklist options, there are several other settings in /etc/multipath.conf that affect which devices are considered multipath path devices.


This option controls the behavior of multipath and multipathd when a device that is not excluded is first encountered. The possible values are:


Every device non-excluded by blacklist in /etc/multipath.conf is included. This is the default on SUSE Linux Enterprise. If this setting is active, the only way to prevent devices from being added to multipath maps is setting them as excluded.


Every device is excluded, even if it is not present in the blacklist section of /etc/multipath.conf, unless its WWID is listed in the file /etc/multipath/wwids. It requires manual maintenance of the WWIDs file (see note below).


Devices are included if they meet the conditions for strict, or if at least one other device with the same WWID exists in the system.


If a new WWID is first encountered, it is temporarily marked as multipath path device. multipathd waits for some time for additional paths with the same WWID to appear. If this happens, the multipath map is set up as usual. Otherwise, when the timeout expires, the single device is released to the system as a non-multipath device. The timeout is configurable with the option find_multipaths_timeout.

This option depends on systemd features which are only available on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15.

Note: Maintaining /etc/multipath/wwids

multipath-tools keeps a record of previously setup multipath maps in the file /etc/multipath/wwids (the “WWIDs file”). Devices with WWIDs listed in this file are considered multipath path devices. The file is important for multipath device selection for all values of find_multipaths except greedy.

If find_multipaths is set to yes or smart, multipathd adds WWIDs to /etc/multipath/wwids after setting up new maps, so that these maps will be detected more quickly in the future.

The WWIDs file can be manually modified:

> sudo multipath -a 3600a098000aad1e3000064e45f2c2355 1
> sudo multipath -w /dev/sdf 2


This command adds the given WWID to /etc/multipath/wwids.


This command removes the WWID of the given device.

In the strict mode, this is the only way to add new multipath devices. After modifying the WWIDs file, run multipathd reconfigure to apply the changes. We recommend rebuilding the initramfs after applying changes to the WWIDs file (see Section 18.7.4, “Keeping the initramfs synchronized”).


If this option is set to yes, USB storage devices are considered for multipathing. The default is no.

18.12 Multipath device names and WWIDs

multipathd and multipath internally use WWIDs to identify devices. WWIDs are also used as map names by default. For convenience, multipath-tools supports assigning simpler, more easily memorizable names to multipath devices.

18.12.1 WWIDs and device Identification

It is crucial for multipath operation to reliably detect devices that represent paths to the same storage volume. multipath-tools uses the device's World Wide Identification (WWID) for this purpose (sometimes also referred to as Universally Unique ID (UUID) or Unique ID (UID—do not confuse with “User ID”)). The WWID of a map device is always the same as the WWID of its path devices.

By default, WWIDs of path devices are inferred from udev properties of the devices, which are determined in udev rules, either by reading device attributes from the sysfs file system or by using specific I/O commands. To see the udev properties of a device, run:

> udevadm info /dev/sdx

The udev properties used by multipath-tools to derive WWIDs are:

  • ID_SERIAL for SCSI devices (do not confuse this with the device's “serial number”)

  • ID_UID for DASD devices

  • ID_WWN for NVMe devices

Warning: Avoid changing WWIDs

It is impossible to change the WWID of a multipath map which is in use. If the WWID of mapped path devices changes because of a configuration change, the map needs to be destroyed, and a new map needs to be set up with the new WWID. This cannot be done while the old map is in use. In extreme cases, data corruption may result from WWID changes. It must therefore be strictly avoided to apply configuration changes that would cause map WWIDs to change.

It is allowed to enable the uid_attrs option in /etc/multipath.conf, see Section 18.13, “Miscellaneous options”.

18.12.2 Setting aliases for multipath maps

Arbitrary map names can be set in the multipaths section of /etc/multipath.conf as follows:

multipaths {
    multipath {
        wwid 3600a098000aad1e3000064e45f2c2355
        alias postgres

Aliases are expressive, but they need to be assigned to each map individually, which may be cumbersome on large systems.

18.12.3 Using autogenerated user-friendly names

multipath-tools also supports autogenerated aliases, so-called “user-friendly names”. The naming scheme of the aliases follows the pattern: mpathINDEX, where INDEX is a lower case letter (starting with a). So the first autogenerated alias is mpatha, the next one is mpathb, mpathc to mpathz. After that follows mpathaa, mpathab, and so on.

Map names are only useful if they are persistent. multipath-tools keeps track of the assigned names in the file /etc/multipath/bindings (the “bindings file”). When a new map is created, the WWID is first looked up in this file. If it is not found, the lowest available user-friendly name is assigned to it.

Explicit aliases as discussed in Section 18.12.2, “Setting aliases for multipath maps” take precedence over user-friendly names.

The following options in /etc/multipath.conf affect user-friendly names:


If set to yes, user-friendly names are assigned and used. Otherwise, the WWID is used as a map name unless an alias is configured.


The prefix used to create user-friendly names, mpath by default.

Warning: Map names in high-availability clusters

For cluster operations, device names must be identical across all nodes in the cluster. The multipath-tools configuration must be kept synchronized between nodes. If user_friendly_names is used, multipathd may modify the /etc/multipath/bindings file at runtime. Such modifications must be replicated dynamically to all nodes. The same applies to /etc/multipath/wwids (see Section 18.11.3, “Other options affecting device selection”).

Note: Changing map names at runtime

It is possible to change map names at runtime. Use any of the methods described in this section and run multipathd reconfigure, and the map names will change without disrupting the system operation.

18.12.4 Referring to multipath maps

Technically, multipath maps are Device Mapper devices, which have generic names of the form /dev/dm-n with an integer number n. These names are not persistent. They should never be used to refer to the multipath maps. udev creates various symbolic links to these devices, which are more suitable as persistent references. These links differ with respect to their invariance against certain configuration changes. The following typical example shows various symlinks all pointing to the same device.

/dev/disk/by-id/dm-name-mpathb1 -> ../../dm-1
/dev/disk/by-id/dm-uuid-mpath-3600a098000aad73f00000a3f5a275dc82 -> ../../dm-1
/dev/disk/by-id/scsi-3600a098000aad73f00000a3f5a275dc83 -> ../../dm-1
/dev/disk/by-id/wwn-0x600a098000aad73f00000a3f5a275dc84 -> ../../dm-1
/dev/mapper/mpathb5 -> ../dm-1

1 5

These two links use the map name to refer to the map. Thus, the links will change if the map name changes, for example, if you enable or disable user-friendly names.


This link uses the device mapper UUID, which is the WWID used by multipath-tools prefixed by the string dm-uuid-mpath-. It is independent of the map name.

The device mapper UUID is the preferred form to ensure that only multipath devices are referenced. For example, the following line in /etc/lvm/lvm.conf rejects all devices except multipath maps:

filter = [ "a|/dev/disk/by-id/dm-uuid-mpath-.*|", "r|.*|" ]

3 4

These are links that would normally point to path devices. The multipath device took them over, because it has a higher udev link priority (see udev(7)). When the map is destroyed or multipathing is turned off, they will still exist and point to one of the path devices instead. This provides a means to reference a device by its WWID, whether or not multipathing is active.

For partitions on multipath maps created by the kpartx tool, there are similar symbolic links, derived from the parent device name or WWID and the partition number:

/dev/disk/by-id/dm-name-mpatha-part2 -> ../../dm-5
/dev/disk/by-id/dm-uuid-part2-mpath-3600a098000aad1e300000b4b5a275d45 -> ../../dm-5
/dev/disk/by-id/scsi-3600a098000aad1e300000b4b5a275d45-part2 -> ../../dm-5
/dev/disk/by-id/wwn-0x600a098000aad1e300000b4b5a275d45-part2 -> ../../dm-5
/dev/disk/by-partuuid/1c2f70e0-fb91-49f5-8260-38eacaf7992b -> ../../dm-5
/dev/disk/by-uuid/f67c49e9-3cf2-4bb7-8991-63568cb840a4 -> ../../dm-5
/dev/mapper/mpatha-part2 -> ../dm-5

Note that partitions often have by-uuid links, too, referring not to the device itself but to the file system it contains. These links are often preferable. They are invariant even if the file system is copied to a different device or partition.

Warning: Map names in the initramfs

When dracut builds an initramfs, it creates hard-coded references to devices in the initramfs, using /dev/mapper/$MAP_NAME references by default. These hard-coded references will not be found during boot if the map names used in the initramfs do not match the names used during building the initramfs, causing boot failure. Normally this will not happen, because dracut will add all multipath configuration files to the initramfs. But problems can occur if the initramfs is built from a different environment, for example, in the rescue system or during an offline update. To prevent this boot failure, change dracut's persistent_policy setting, as explained in Section, “Persistent device names in the initramfs”.

18.13 Miscellaneous options

This section lists some useful multipath.conf options that were not mentioned so far. See multipath.conf(5) for a full list.


Controls the log verbosity of both multipath and multipathd. The command-line option -v overrides this setting for both commands. The value can be between 0 (only fatal errors) and 4 (verbose logging). The default is 2.


This option enables an optimization for processing udev events, so-called “uevent merging”. It is useful in environments in which hundreds of path devices may fail or reappear simultaneously. In order to make sure that path WWIDs do not change (see Section 18.12.1, “WWIDs and device Identification”), the value should be set exactly like this:

defaults {
     uid_attrs "sd:ID_SERIAL dasd:ID_UID nvme:ID_WWN"

If set to yes for a multipath device (default is no), do not create partition devices on top of the given device (see Section 18.7.3, “Partitions on multipath devices and kpartx). Useful for multipath devices used by virtual machines. Previous SUSE Linux Enterprise Server releases achieved the same effect with the parameter “features 1 no_partitions”.


Limits the maximum amount of data sent in a single I/O request for all path devices of the multipath map.


On active/passive arrays, it can happen that passive paths (in “ghost” state) are probed before active paths. If the map was activated immediately and I/O was sent, this would cause a possibly costly path activation. This parameter specifies the time (in seconds) to wait for active paths of the map to appear before activating the map. The default is no (no ghost delay).


If set to yes (default is no), double-checks the WWID of restored paths after failure, and removes them if the WWID has changed. This is a safety measure against data corruption.


multipath-tools provides a plugin API for other multipathing backends than Device Mapper multipath. The API supports monitoring and displaying information about the multipath topology using standard commands like multipath -ll. Modifying the topology is unsupported.

The value of enable_foreign is a regular expression to match against foreign library names. The default value is “NONE”.

SUSE Linux Enterprise Server ships the nvme plugin, which adds support for the native NVMe multipathing (see Section 18.2.1, “Multipath implementations: device mapper and NVMe”). To enable the nvme plugin, set

defaults {
    enable_foreign nvme

18.13.1 Handling unreliable (“marginal”) path devices

Unstable conditions in the fabric can cause path devices to behave erratically. They exhibit frequent I/O errors, recover, and fail again. Such path devices are also denoted “marginal” or “shaky” paths. This section summarizes the options that multipath-tools provides to deal with this problem.

Note: multipathd's marginal path checking algorithm

If a path device exhibits a second failure (good → bad transition) before marginal_path_double_failed_time elapses after the first failure, multipathd starts monitoring the path at a rate of 10 requests per second, for a monitoring period of marginal_path_err_sample_time. If the error rate during the monitoring period exceeds marginal_path_err_rate_threshold, the path is classified as marginal. After marginal_path_err_recheck_gap_time, the path transitions to normal state again.

This algorithm is used if all four numeric marginal_path_ parameters are set to a positive value, and marginal_pathgroups is not set to fpin. It is available since SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 SP1 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 SP5.


Maximum time (in seconds) between two path failures that triggers path monitoring.


Length (in seconds) of the path monitoring interval.


Minimum error rate (per thousand I/Os).


Time (in seconds) to keep the path in marginal state.


This option is available since SLES 15SP3. Possible values are:


Marginal state is determined by multipathd (see above). Marginal paths are not reinstated as long as they remain in marginal state. This is the default, and the behavior in SUSE Linux Enterprise Server releases before SP3, where the marginal_pathgroups option was unavailable.


Similar to the off option, but instead of keeping them in the failed state, marginal paths are moved to a separate path group, which will be assigned a lower priority than all other path groups (see Section 18.10, “Configuring path grouping and priorities”). Paths in this path group will only be used for I/O if all paths in other path groups have failed.


This setting is available from SLES 15SP4. Marginal path state is derived from FPIN events (see below). Marginal paths are moved into a separate path group, as described foroff. This setting requires no further host-side configuration. It is the recommended way to handle marginal paths on Fibre Channel fabrics that support FPIN.

Note: FPIN-based marginal path detection

multipathd listens for Fibre Channel Performance Impact Notifications (FPIN). If an FPIN-LI (Link Integrity) event is received for a path device, the path will enter marginal state. This state will last until a RSCN or Link up event is received on the Fibre channel adapter the device is connected to.

A simpler algorithm using the parameters san_path_err_threshold, san_path_err_forget_rate, and san_path_err_recovery time is also available and recommended for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 15 (GA). See the “Shaky paths detection” section in multipath.conf(5).

18.14 Best practice

18.14.1 Best practices for configuration

The large number of configuration directives is daunting at first. Usually, you can get good results with an empty configuration, unless you are in a clustering environment.

Here are some general recommendations for stand-alone servers. They are not mandatory. See the documentation of the respective parameters in the previous sections for background information.

defaults {
    deferred_remove      yes
    find_multipaths      smart
    enable_foreign       nvme
    marginal_pathgroups  fpin    # 15.4 only, if supported by fabric
devices {
    # A catch-all device entry.
    device {
        vendor                .*
        product               .*
        dev_loss_tmo          infinity
        no_path_retry         60            # 5 minutes
        path_grouping_policy  group_by_prio
        path_selector         "historical-service-time 0"
        reservation_key       file          # if using SCSI persistent reservations
    # Follow up with specific device entries below, they will take precedence.

After modifying the /etc/multipath.conf file, apply your settings as described in Section 18.8.4, “Applying multipath.conf modifications”.

18.14.2 Interpreting multipath I/O status

For a quick overview of the multipath subsystem, use multipath -ll or multipathd show topology. The output of these commands has the same format. The former command reads the kernel state, while the latter prints the status of the multipath daemon. Normally both states are equal. Here is an example of the output:

> sudo multipathd show topology
mpatha1 (3600a098000aad1e300000b4b5a275d452) dm-03 NETAPP,INF-01-004
size=64G features='3 queue_if_no_path pg_init_retries 50'5 hwhandler='1 alua'6 wp=rw7
|-+- 8policy='historical-service-time 2'9 prio=5010 status=active11
| |-12 3:0:0:113 sdb 8:1614 active15 ready16 running17
| `- 4:0:0:1 sdf 8:80  active ready running
`-+- policy='historical-service-time 2' prio=10 status=enabled
  `- 4:0:1:1 sdj 8:144 active ready running


The map name.


The map WWID (if different from the map name).


The device node name of the map device.


The vendor and product name.


A path group. The indented lines below the path group list the path devices that belong to it.


The path selector algorithm used by the path group. The "2" can be ignored.


The priority of the path group.


The status of the path group (active, enabled or disabled). The active path group is the one that I/O is currently sent to.


A path device.


The bus ID of the device (here, a SCSI Host:Bus:Target:Lun ID).


The device node name and major/minor number of the path device.


The kernel device mapper state of the path (active or failed).


The multipath path device state (see below).


The state of the path device in the kernel. This is a device-type specific value. For SCSI, it is either running or offline.

The multipath path device states are:


The path is healthy and up


A passive path in an active/passive array


The path is down or unreachable

i/o timeout

A checker command timed out

i/o pending

Waiting for the completion of a path checker command


Path reinstantiation is delayed to avoid "flapping"


An unreliable path (emc path checker only)

18.14.3 Using LVM2 on multipath devices

LVM2 has built-in support for detecting multipath devices. It is activated by default in /etc/lvm/lvm.conf:


This works reliably only if LVM2 is also configured to obtain information about device properties from udev:


This is the default in SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 SP4, but not in earlier releases. It is also possible (although normally not necessary) to create a filter expression for LVM2 to ignore all devices except multipath devices. See Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps”.

18.14.4 Resolving stalled I/O

If all paths fail concurrently and I/O is queued, applications may stall for a long time. To resolve this, you can use the following procedure:

  1. Enter the following command at a terminal prompt:

    > sudo multipathd disablequeueing map MAPNAME

    Replace MAPNAME with the correct WWID or mapped alias name for the device.

    This command immediately causes all queued I/O to fail and propagates the error to the calling application. File systems will observe I/O errors and switch to read-only mode.

  2. Reactivate queuing by entering the following command:

    > sudo multipathd restorequeueing MAPNAME

18.14.5 MD RAID on multipath devices

MD RAID arrays on top of multipathing are set up automatically by the system's udev rules. No special configuration in /etc/mdadm.conf is necessary.

18.14.6 Scanning for new devices without rebooting

If your system has already been configured for multipathing and you need to add storage to the SAN, you can use the rescan-scsi-bus.sh script to scan for the new devices. The general syntax for the command follows:

> sudo rescan-scsi-bus.sh [-a] [-r] --hosts=2-3,5

Where the options have the following meaning:


the option ensures that all SCSI targets are scanned, otherwise only already existing targets will be scanned for new LUNs.


the option enables the removal of devices which have been removed on the storage side.


the option specifies the list of host bus adapters to scan (the default is to scan all).

Run rescan-scsi-bus.sh --help for help on additional options.

If multipathd is running and new SAN devices are discovered, they should be automatically set up as multipath maps according to the configuration described in Section 18.11, “Selecting devices for multipathing”.

Warning: Dell/EMC PowerPath environments

In EMC PowerPath environments, do not use the rescan-scsi-bus.sh utility provided with the operating system or the HBA vendor scripts for scanning the SCSI buses. To avoid potential file system corruption, EMC requires that you follow the procedure provided in the vendor documentation for EMC PowerPath for Linux.

18.15 Troubleshooting MPIO

If a system runs into emergency mode on a system with multipath, printing messages about missing devices, the reason is almost always one of these:

  • Inconsistent configuration of multipath device selection

  • Use of non-existing device references

18.15.1 Understanding device selection issues

A block device can only either be part of a multipath map or be used directly (mounted as file system, used as swap, LVM physical volume, or otherwise). If a device is already mounted, an attempt by multipathd to make it part of a multipath map will fail with a “Device or resource busy” error. Vice-versa, the same error results if systemd attempts to mount a device that has already been made part of a multipath map.

Storage device activation during boot is handled by a complex interaction between systemd, udev, multipathd and some other tools. udev rules play a central role. They set device properties that indicate to other subsystems how a device should be used. The multipath-related udev rules set the following properties for devices that are selected for multipathing:


Partition devices inherit these properties from their parents.

If these properties are not set correctly, if some tool does not respect them, or if they get set too late, a race condition between multipathd and some other subsystem may result. Only one of the contenders can win the race; the other one will see a “Device or resource busy” error.

One problem in this context is that the tools of the LVM2 suite do not evaluate udev properties by default. They rely on their own logic for determining whether a device is a multipath component, which sometimes does not match the logic of the rest of the system. A workaround for this is described in Section 18.14.3, “Using LVM2 on multipath devices”.

Note: Example of boot deadlock

Consider a system with multipathing where the root device is not multipathed, and no devices are excluded from multipath (see Multipath disabled in the initramfs in Section, “Root file system on a local disk”). The root file system is mounted in the initramfs. systemd switches to the root file system and multipathd starts up. Because the device is already mounted, multipathd fails to set up the multipath map for it. Because the root device is not configured in blacklist, it is considered a multipath device, and SYSTEMD_READY=0 is set for it.

Later in the boot process, the system attempts to mount additional file systems like /var and /home. Usually, these file systems will be on the same device as the root file system, by default as BTRFS subvolumes of the root file system itself. But systemd cannot mount them because of SYSTEMD_READY=0. We are in a deadlock: The dm-multipath device cannot be created, and the underlying device is blocked for systemd. The additional file systems cannot be mounted, resulting in boot failure.

A solution to this problem already exists. multipathd detects this situation and releases the device to systemd which can then proceed mounting the file system. However, it is important to understand the general problem, which can still occur in more subtle ways.

18.15.2 Understanding device referencing issues

An example of a device referencing issue has been given in Section, “Persistent device names in the initramfs”. Typically, there are multiple symbolic links pointing to a device node (see Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps”). But these links do not always exist; udev creates them according to the current udev rules. For example, if multipathing is off, symbolic links under /dev/mapper/ for multipath devices will be missing. Thus, any reference to a /dev/mapper/ device will fail.

Such references can appear in various places, notably in /etc/fstab and /etc/crypttab, in the initramfs, or even on the kernel command line.

The safest way to circumvent this problem is to avoid using the kind of device references that are not persistent between boots or depend on system configuration. We generally recommend referring to file systems (and similar entities like swap space) by properties of the file system itself (like UUID or label) rather than the containing device. If such references are not available and device references are required, for example, in /etc/crypttab, the options should be evaluated carefully. For example, in Section 18.12.4, “Referring to multipath maps”, the best option might be the /dev/disk/by-id/wwn- link because it would also work with multipath=off.

18.15.3 Troubleshooting steps in emergency mode

As there are many error situations that differ in subtle ways, it is impossible to provide a step-by-step recovery guide. But with the background knowledge from the previous subsections, you should be able to figure out the problem if a system runs into emergency mode because of multipathing issues. Before you begin debugging, make sure you have checked the following questions:

If you are unsure with respect to the last question, here is a sample dracut emergency prompt as it would be printed before switching root:

Generating "/run/initramfs/rdsosreport.txt"
Entering emergency mode. Exit the shell to continue.
Type "journalctl" to view system logs.

You might want to save "/run/initramfs/rdsosreport.txt" to a USB stick or /boot
after mounting them and attach it to a bug report.

Give root password for maintenance
(or press Control-D to continue):

The mention of rdsosreport.txt is a clear indication that the system is still running from the initramfs. If you are still uncertain, log in and check for the existence of the file /etc/initrd-release. This file exists only in an initramfs environment.

If emergency mode is entered after switching root, the emergency prompt looks similar, but rdsosreport.txt is not mentioned:

Timed out waiting for device dev-disk-by\x2duuid-c4a...cfef77d.device.
[DEPEND] Dependency failed for Local File Systems.
[DEPEND] Dependency failed for Postfix Mail Transport Agent.
Welcome to emergency shell
Give root password for maintenance
(or press Control-D to continue):
Procedure 18.2: Steps for analyzing the situation in emergency mode
  1. Try to figure out what failed by examining failed systemd units and the journal.

    # systemctl --failed
    # journalctl -b -o short-monotonic

    When looking at the journal, determine the first failed unit. When you have found the first failure, examine the messages before and around that point in time very carefully. Are there any warnings or other suspicious messages?

    Watch out for the root switch ("Switching root.") and for messages about SCSI devices, device mapper, multipath and LVM2. Look for systemd messages about devices and file systems ("Found device…", "Mounting…", "Mounted…").

  2. Examine the existing devices, both low-level devices and device mapper devices (note that some of the commands below may not be available in the initramfs):

    # cat /proc/partitions
    # ls -l /sys/class/block
    # ls -l /dev/disk/by-id/* /dev/mapper/*
    # dmsetup ls --tree
    # lsblk
    # lsscsi

    From the output of the commands above, you should get an idea whether the low-level devices were successfully probed, and whether any multipath maps and multipath partitions were set up.

  3. If the device mapper multipath setup is not as you expect, examine the udev properties, in particular, SYSTEMD_READY (see above)

    # udevadm info -e
  4. If the previous step showed unexpected udev properties, something may have gone wrong during udev rule processing. Check other properties, in particular, those used for device identification (see Section 18.12.1, “WWIDs and device Identification”). If the udev properties are correct, check the journal for multipathd messages again. Look for "Device or resource busy" messages.

  5. If the system failed to mount or otherwise activate a device, it is often helpful to try activating this device manually:

    # mount /var
    # swapon -a
    # vgchange -a y

    Mostly, the manual activation will succeed and allow to proceed with system boot (usually by simply logging out from the emergency shell) and examine the situation further in the booted system.

    If manual activation fails, you will probably see error messages that provide clues about what is going wrong. You can also try the commands again with increased verbosity.

  6. At this point, you should have some idea what went wrong (if not, contact SUSE support and be prepared to answer most of the questions raised above).

    You should be able to correct the situation with a few shell commands, exit the emergency shell, and boot successfully. You will still need to adjust your configuration to make sure the same problem will not occur again in the future.

    Otherwise, you will need to boot the rescue system, set up the devices manually to chroot into the real root file system, and attempt to fix the problem based on the insight you got in the previous steps. Be aware that in this situation, the storage stack for the root file system may differ from normal. Depending on your setup, you may have force addition or omission of dracut modules when building a new initramfs. See also Section, “Enabling or disabling multipathing in the initramfs”.

  7. If the problem occurs frequently or even on every boot attempt, try booting with increased verbosity in order to get more information about the failure. The following kernel parameters, or a combination of them, are often helpful:



    Increase the log level of systemd-udevd and udev rule processing.


    Increase the log level of systemd.


    Increase the logging level of the kernel's SCSI subsystem.


    Trace the scripts in the initramfs.

    In addition, it may make sense to enable logging for certain drivers and configure a serial console to capture the output during boot.

18.15.4 Technical information documents

For more information about troubleshooting multipath I/O issues on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, see the following Technical Information Documents (TIDs) in the SUSE Knowledgebase: