A friend of mine likes to try ZFS on CentOS 7, therefore I decide to make a guide for him. The following instructions have been well tested on CentOS 7.

Before you decide to put ZFS in a production use, you should be aware of the following:

  • ZFS is originally designed to work with Solaris and BSD system. Because of the legal and licensing issues, ZFS cannot be shipped with Linux.
  • Since ZFS is open source, some developers port the ZFS the Linux, and make it run at the kernel level via dkms. This works great as long as you don’t update the kernel. Otherwise the ZFS will not be loaded with the new kernel.
  • In a ZFS/Linux environment, it is a bad idea to update the system automatically.
  • For some odd reasons, ZFS/Linux will work with server grade or gaming grade computers. Do not run ZFS/Linux on entry level computers.


By default, ZFS is not available in the standard CentOS repository. We will need to include some 3rd party repositories here.

sudo rpm -Uvh http://www.elrepo.org/elrepo-release-7.0-2.el7.elrepo.noarch.rpm
sudo rpm -Uvh http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/epel-release-latest-7.noarch.rpm
sudo rpm -Uvh https://forensics.cert.org/cert-forensics-tools-release-el7.rpm
sudo rpm -Uvh http://download.zfsonlinux.org/epel/zfs-release.el7_3.noarch.rpm

sudo yum update -y
sudo yum groupinstall -y "Development Tools" "Development Libraries" "Additional Development"
sudo yum install -y kernel-devel kernel-headers

It is very likely that the system will install a new kernel. You may want to reboot the computer before installing the ZFS.

sudo reboot

Please make sure that the system does not update automatically. If you need to update the system, please exclude the kernel and related modules from the update.

sudo nano /etc/yum.conf 

Now you are on the latest kernel. Let’s install the ZFS:

sudo yum install -y zfs
sudo /sbin/modprobe zfs

Now, you can create a simple stripped ZFS. Stripped ZFS gives you the best performances and zero data protections. When referencing the disks, we don’t want to use /dev/sd*, instead, we want to use the device id directly, e.g., /dev/disk/by-id/wwn-0x8000c8004e8ac11a

ls /dev/disk/by-id/

lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  9 Jan  3 21:49 wwn-0x8000c8004e8ac11a -> ../../sde
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  9 Jan  3 21:49 wwn-0x8000c8008ad0a22d -> ../../sdd
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  9 Jan  3 21:49 wwn-0x8000c8008b4f6338 -> ../../sda
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  9 Jan  3 21:49 wwn-0x8000c8008b52144c -> ../../sdc
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root  9 Jan  3 21:49 wwn-0x8000c8008b59a553 -> ../../sdb

Once you identify the list of the hard disks, we can create a simple stripped ZFS. This will create a ZFS under /storage. You can replace storage to anything you like.

#We are going to create a ZFS pool with three disks. You can add more if you like. For stripped design, the higher number of disks, the faster the IO speed.
zpool create -f storage /dev/disk/by-id/device1 /dev/disk/by-id/device2 /dev/disk/by-id/device3 

storage is like a big umbrella. Under this umbrella, we will need to create multiple “partitions” for storing data.

zfs create storage/mydata

If you have a fast CPU like i7, you may want to turn on the compression. This will reduce the amount of data write to the system, and it will improve the overall performance.

sudo zfs set compression=lz4 storage

Finally we want to change the ownership and the permissions

#Assuming that you are part of the wheel group
sudo chown -R root:wheel /storage
sudo chmod -R g+rw /storage

Now, run df and you should be able to see the ZFS in your system.

#df -h
Filesystem                   Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
storage                      6.8T  128K  6.8T   1% /storage
storage/mydata                13T  6.1T  6.8T  48% /storage/mydata

You can monitor the health of the ZFS system.

#sudo zpool status

  pool: storage
 state: ONLINE

        NAME                        STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        storage                     ONLINE       0     0     0
            wwn-0x8000c8004e8ac11a  ONLINE       0     0     0
            wwn-0x8000c8008ad0a22d  ONLINE       0     0     0
            wwn-0x8000c8008b4f6338  ONLINE       0     0     0
            wwn-0x8000c8008b52144c  ONLINE       0     0     0

errors: No known data errors

For some very odd reasons, ZFS will not be loaded automatically. We want to make sure that ZFS will be loaded after reboot.

#sudo nano /etc/crontab

#Add the following:
@reboot         root    sleep 10; zpool import -a;

Now you can try to test the ZFS by running dd or copying a big file to the ZFS. If you are not happy with the configurations, you can always destroy it and re-create the ZFS again.

sudo zpool destroy storage

Further Reading

Have fun!

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