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Persistent volumes

This article describes one of the options to store data in Pouta which survive turning off the virtual machine.

Persistent volumes, as the name says, remain even when instances are removed. They an be attached to or detached from virtual machines while they are running.

Creating and attaching volumes in the Pouta web interface

Persistent volumes can be created using either the web interface or through the command line interface.

In the web interface, use the Create volume button on the Volumes page to create a new volume. You may then give a name and a size for the volume (1 GB is the minimum). The only mandatory argument is the size of the volume.

Create persistent Volmume

Once the volume has been created, it can be attached to a running virtual machine. One volume can be attached to only one virtual machine at a time.

To attach a volume, first select the Volumes view in the Pouta web interface. Click the arrow symbol next to the Edit Volume button for the volume you want to attach and select Manage attachments. Select the instance (i.e. virtual machine) you want to attach the volume to in the Attach to Instance selector.

Attach persistent volume

Using attached volumes

The first time you use a attached volume it needs to be initialized. This should ONLY be done the FIRST time you use it, otherwise you overwrite all your data on the volume. First determine which device is your volume.

The following is a simple usage example for creating a filesystem on a volume and mounting the filesystem automatically after a reboot. Note that this is a simple example and there are many  cooler ways to manage your file systems.

Once you have logged in to your virtual machine, you can list the volumes:

sudo parted -l

You should be able to identify the volume based on its size. For this exercise, let us say it is /dev/vdb. First, we create a file
system on it. We are going to use xfs because we know it works well in Pouta:

sudo mkfs.xfs /dev/vdb

Now you can start using it. For example, to mount it under /media/volume, you first need to make sure that the path exists:

sudo mkdir -p /media/volume

Then you can mount it:

sudo mount /dev/vdb /media/volume

Finally, you need to change the ownership to be able to read and write data in it. In the following command, we are assuming the username is cloud-user.

sudo chown cloud-user:cloud-user /media/volume

After this step, you should be able to use your volume normally. Once you are done with your operations and you want to detach the volume, please remember to unmount the volume before detaching it!

sudo umount /dev/vdb

If you want the volume to be available after rebooting the virtual machine, you need to add it in the /etc/fstab configuration file. You can use the label you previously created for the partition:

sudo sh -c 'echo "/dev/vdb     /media/volume    xfs    defaults,nofail    0    2" >> /etc/fstab'

Subsequent additions

After you attach the volume to another machine, you only need to run:

mkdir -p /media/volume
mount /dev/vdb /media/volume

After these commands, in order to allow the user of the virtual machine to read and write data on the disk, you might need to give the ownership of the /media/volume folder to the user.

Creating and attaching volumes with command line tools

Persistent volumes can also be created and attached using the command line tools:

openstack volume create --description "<description>" --size <size> <name>

List existing volumes:

openstack volume list

List existing virtual machines to find the one to which you want to attach a volume:

openstack server list

When a volume's status is "available", you can attach it to a virtual machine (you can use either names or IDs to refer to the VM and the volume):

openstack server add volume <virtual machine> <volume>


A volume can only be attached to one virtual machine at a time.

When you no longer need the volume to be attached, you can detach it. Before detaching, remember to unmount the volume's filesystem on the virtual machine to avoid data loss!

openstack server remove volume <server> <volume>

Transferring volumes between other Pouta projects

Occasionally, you may need to transfer your persistent volumes between Pouta projects. For example, you may need to transfer large data sets or bootable volumes to colleagues in another Pouta project. This can be done using volume transfers. Volume transfers between projects in Pouta are fast, avoid data duplication and unnecessary data transfers over the network. Transferring a volume to another project means that your project will no longer have access to it. Please note Pouta volume transfer works within the same cloud environment i.e. you can transfer a volume from one cPouta project to another but not between a cPouta project and ePouta project or vice versa.

To transfer a volume, you must first make sure its status is Available. You can do so by detaching it from the instance to which it was initially attached. Once your volume is in the available status, you can initiate volume transfer either using Pouta Web or the command line interface.

For the Pouta Web interface, go to the Volumes view and click the arrow symbol next to the Edit Volume button of the volume you want to transfer and select Create Transfer. Name this transfer request and click on Create Volume Transfer. You will then get the volume transfer credentials (transfer ID & authorization key).

Transfer a volume to another project

You need to provide these credentials to your colleague to whom you want to transfer this volume.

Your colleague can accept this volume transfer in his project by going to his Volumes view of the web interface and clicking the Accept Transfer button. They need to then provide the transfer credentials you generated in the previous step and Accept Volume Transfer. This will transfer the volume to your colleague's project.

Accept volume transfer

Volume transfers can be also done using the command line tools:

openstack volume transfer request create <name or UUID of volume to transfer>

The output of this command will have the volume transfer credentials (transfer ID & Authorization key), note them down and pass them to your colleague to whom you want to transfer the volume.

Your colleague can accept the transfer request of this volume:

openstack volume transfer request accept <transferID> <authKey>