Moving to M1/arm native rsync
We are in the process of replacing Intel Mac minis with M1 Mac minis in our customers’ server rooms. For the MDCs we are using migration assistant and rebuilding the Open Directory master first, then migrating the BMDC and cleaning up the Xsan configuration and re-joining the Xsan. For other systems (file servers, sync servers, etc) one of main tools for data movement is rsync...
Creating an html file list of an archive
We recommend our clients use a Production -> Nearline -> Archive workflow. Production data is synced to Nearline (full copy nightly, syncs every hour). Then when projects are complete, data is sent to duplicate tapes and cloud storage. While people can view and search archives in the cloud or the Archiware P5 web interface, often they like to navigate in the file system they are...
Converting local accounts to mobile accounts
When working with an Xsan volume with Access Control Lists (ACLs) enabled, it is critical that users log into their Macs with the accounts that are in the relevant groups. We recently helped a customer migrate several computers from local accounts to mobile accounts while retaining the user’s home folder. We are starting with a Mac with a local administrator account and another local account...
One client on two Xsans
We have mentioned that we have several environments with multiple Xsans and clients that are connected to both of them. In all cases there are 2 Xsans. One hosts the production volume with fast storage and many clients for video, audio, and graphics production. The other Xsan hosts a nearline volume for synced backups of production and often another volume for a file share. These...
Changing an Xsan .auth_secret cleanly
We posted previously about making manual profile changes when changing an Xsan’s .auth_secret. After some more testing, we have confirmed that rebuilding Open Directory also allows us to cleanly change the .auth_secret stored in Open Directory, so a newly generated .mobileconfig file will connect clients without modification. To do this we will need to stop the volume, remove all clients, remove the backup mdc, and...
Rebuilding Xsan Open Directory while keeping Xsan config
In a previous article we covered rebuilding your Xsan completely by saving the /Library/Preferences/Xsan directory and using that to populate rebuilt MDCs. We recently had a situation where a backup MDC would not rejoin the Open Directory as a replica after a software update. As this was supposed to be a quick, safe update we really didn’t want to have to erase and reinstall everything....
Manual Xsan profile changes
When adding clients to an Xsan, the normal process is to install an Xsan profile on the client which tells the client how to talk to the Open Directory. Then the Xsan configuration is pulled down from Open Directory and the client is able to connect. Occasionally we need to modify that profile. Here are 2 ways we have changed the profile in certain circumstances.
Disable Spotlight on an Xsan volume
We have been seeing spotlight processes (mds, mds_stores, mdworker_shared, etc) using a lot of CPU on some of our MDCs. By itself this isn’t a problem, but we have been dealing with some thermal issues in a couple of small server rooms. While the benefits of spotlight are nice, it isn’t worth the extra heat in this case. We tried disabling spotlight with mdutil, but...
Another ARD offline issue
We have a lot of headless Mac Minis in server racks running Xsans and related services. So we use Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) quite a bit to connect and work on them. For most of their history, a Mac Mini without a monitor was limited to low desktop resolutions (like 1280×1024 or even 1024×768), could lose any graphics acceleration from the Quartz Core Graphics framework,...
Erase and reconfigure your Xsan MDCs
We recently had a situation where an Xsan was misbehaving. Both MDCs were regularly freezing up and becoming unresponsive. We found that the systems were regularly creating core dumps and filling the /cores directory until the drive filled up. We tried to diagnose the cause of this, but were not able to figure it out from the core dump files. So we erased and reinstalled...
Xsan Software Updates on macOS Monterey
I have been seeing some weird behavior with software updates on our macOS Monterey test Xsan. After running the software update, the Xsan volume does not mount. Trying to see the volume with xsanctl list results in xsanctl: unable to connect to xsand: No such file or directory. Having seeing this before I try to bootstrap the xsand launch daemon, which also fails. The error now is service is disabled. To resolve...
Deleting a lot of data
When supporting Xsans with a lot of data, we occasionally need to remove a lot of data. As the year rolled over, we have created new folders for the 2022 projects and it is time to remove some old data from the production volumes. After confirming the tape archive and nearline volumes have the data, we are clearing up some previous year projects to free...
Apple Remote Desktop constant resizing
We use Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) for many things from working on headless servers to remote users working on Xsan connected systems while working from home. Occasionally, we run into a problem when connecting to a remove system via ARD where the window wildly resizes itself and eventually errors out. In some cases the cause seems to be a user changing the resolution of the...
Permissions management on Xsan
I’m sure there are many ways to manage permissions on an Xsan, but we primarily see 2. The first is that anyone that can connect to the san can see everything on the san. Access is handled by keeping the san connected computers physically secure and not allowing network access to the san volume(s). Then permissions on the volume can be set so that...
xsanctl: unable to connect to xsand & launchd
We recently had a Mac that wouldn’t mount the Xsan volume when rebooting. We would receive the error xsanctl: unable to connect to xsand: No such file or directory when running xsanctl mount VolumeName. After confirming that the fibre HBA driver was loaded and the LUNs were available, we thought to check the issue that the error message actually described.
No login window icon if your UID is too large
We ran into an interesting problem on some of our Xsan connected systems. We created mobile accounts, but some of them wouldn’t show up at the Mac’s Login Window. These Macs are bound to an LDAP server and the user’s UniqueID (UID) comes from the LDAP server. The UIDs are assigned based on user type, so while employees are small numbers, contractors have ended up...
If your Xsan volume isn’t mounting automatically
We have seen some systems where our Xsan volume(s) do not mount consistently on restart. We have seen this occasionally on both macOS Catalina and Big Sur. After confirming that the fibre channel HBA driver is loaded, and seeing that manually running xsanctl mount <volumeName> works as expected, we can turn to launchd to make sure the volume mounts.
Load fibre drivers at startup
We have seen several Big Sur Macs at different locations not mount their Xsan volume after a restart or power on. After some investigation, we have found that the fibre HBA driver is not loaded. This has happened with ATTO ThunderLink FC adapters, ATTO Celerity PCI cards, and Promise SANLink FC adapters, so it doesn’t appear to just be one bad driver. The first...
Create a new Xsan on macOS Monterey
In macOS Monterey the Server.app interface for setting up and managing Xsan is gone. Apple has produced an Xsan Management Guide (as of 2021-11-2 available on the Apple developer site). In this post I will walk through creating a new Xsan from scratch on macOS Monterey. Our test environment is made up of 2 Intel Mac Minis with ATTO Thunderlink fibre adapters connected to a...
Xsan Big Sur to Monterey upgrade
With macOS Monterey, Apple has announced that the Server.app interface for Xsan is going away. One small benefit to this is that we don’t need to wait for the official release of Server.app v5.12 to upgrade our Xsan to Monterey. Both Big Sur and Monterey have the same Xsan versions (Server Revision 7.0.1 Build 589). This post will show the steps I used to upgrade...