Blog


29

Feb 2024

Copied file is 0 bytes!

About a month ago we received a comment from a client.  They had a user who grabbed some files from their Xsan volume, dragged them to their Mac’s Desktop and ended up with 0 byte files!  The file on the san opened fine.  We found copying it with cp or rsync resulted in normal files.  The problem was not permissions (POSIX or ACLs) or extended...

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03

Jan 2024

Latest Apple updates fixes Xsan mounting issue

The latest updates from Apple, January 22, 2024, (we’ve tested 14.3 and 13.6.4) have fixed the Xsan mounting regression from the .2 versions. [Edit: 12.7.3 has been confirmed to work by matx on Slack.  Thanks Mat!] The simplest confirmation is that your volumes should mount properly with xsanctl either automatically or manually.  We can confirm by checking the latest /Library/Logs/Xsan/debug/mount-debug.nnn file (where nnn is some number)....

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15

Dec 2023

Xsan automount failures in macOS 14.2, 13.6.2/3, and 12.7.2

Several Xsan administrators have been reporting problems on clients that have been upgraded to any of the latest point releases from Apple.  The clients fail to mount their Xsan volumes and even manually mounting with xsanctl mount VolumeName fails.  There has been much discussion and a work around found on MacAdmin Slack in the #Xsan channel, so join us over there. The problem can be...

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07

Dec 2023

Labeling LUNs more easily

In a recent post about expanding a volume, we covered a slow but sure way of making that LUNs are labeled so that we know which LUN in our volume config corresponds to which LUN in our RAID config.  Bringing them on one by one definitely works, but takes time and many MDC restarts.  While I was working on that, my coworker found a better...

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05

Dec 2023

Expanding an Xsan volume

We just expanded a volume for a customer, adding 2 times their existing storage.  Apple does have a short section on the process in the Xsan Management Guide for Mac v1.2, but there are several other things to consider when doing this. The first is sizing.  When expanding a volume, you are adding storage pools.  Ideally for performance all the storage pools should be the...

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26

Sep 2023

Xsan Ventura & Sonoma upgrade failures and a workaround using profile “Magic”

We have recently been upgrading our clients’ Xsans from macOS Monterey to macOS Ventura.  We had been holding off since, in our testing over the last year, we have never had a successful in-place upgrade.  When trying an in-place upgrade on an MDC, the install progresses until the first restart.  At that point, the Mac boots to recovery with an error message: “Your computer started...

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03

Aug 2023

Moving a user’s home or CloudStorage wants a lot of space

Why would we do this We have several customers that use various cloud sync/storage options as another location for archived data.  Once the projects are complete and we mark them read-only on the Xsan, they can be written to tape and sent to “the cloud” for further redundancy.  This means we are almost constantly sending data up to these providers.   In macOS Monterey (and...

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30

Jun 2023

Monitoring and killing smbd

We have several clients using macOS to share data from their Xsans. There have been occasional instances where the smbd process spins up to over 100% and seems to get hung up. Connected users report slow file browsing or not able to navigate to new folders. New connections timeout before being prompted for authentication.We have found that killing the smbd process resolves the issue and...

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20

Jan 2023

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...

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18

Jan 2023

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...

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29

Nov 2022

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...

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01

Nov 2022

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...

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21

Oct 2022

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...

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17

Oct 2022

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....

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14

Jul 2022

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.


07

Jul 2022

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...

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04

May 2022

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,...

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14

Apr 2022

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...

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12

Apr 2022

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...

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05

Jan 2022

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...

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20

Dec 2021

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...

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14

Dec 2021

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...

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08

Dec 2021

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.


01

Dec 2021

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...

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24

Nov 2021

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.



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