Aside from the disks you physically insert into your computer: floppies, CDs, hard drives, and so forth; other forms of disks are understood by FreeBSD - the virtual disks.
These include network file systems such as the Network File System and Coda, memory-based file systems and file-backed file systems.
According to the FreeBSD version you run, you will have to use different tools for creation and use of file-backed and memory-based file systems.
Note: Use devfs(5) to allocate device nodes transparently for the user.
The mdconfig(8) command supports three kinds of memory backed virtual disks: memory disks allocated with malloc(9), memory disks using a file or swap space as backing. One possible use is the mounting of floppy or CD images kept in files.
To mount an existing file system image:
Example 19-3. Using mdconfig to Mount an Existing File System Image
# mdconfig -a -t vnode -f diskimage -u 0 # mount /dev/md0 /mnt
To create a new file system image with mdconfig(8):
Example 19-4. Creating a New File-Backed Disk with mdconfig
# dd if=/dev/zero of=newimage bs=1k count=5k 5120+0 records in 5120+0 records out # mdconfig -a -t vnode -f newimage -u 0 # bsdlabel -w md0 auto # newfs md0a /dev/md0a: 5.0MB (10224 sectors) block size 16384, fragment size 2048 using 4 cylinder groups of 1.25MB, 80 blks, 192 inodes. super-block backups (for fsck -b #) at: 160, 2720, 5280, 7840 # mount /dev/md0a /mnt # df /mnt Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Avail Capacity Mounted on /dev/md0a 4710 4 4330 0% /mnt
If you do not specify the unit number with the
option, mdconfig(8) will use
the md(4) automatic
allocation to select an unused device. The name of the allocated unit will be output
on stdout like md4. For more details about mdconfig(8), please
refer to the manual page.
The utility mdconfig(8) is very useful, however it asks many command lines to create a file-backed file system. FreeBSD also comes with a tool called mdmfs(8), this program configures a md(4) disk using mdconfig(8), puts a UFS file system on it using newfs(8), and mounts it using mount(8). For example, if you want to create and mount the same file system image as above, simply type the following:
Example 19-5. Configure and Mount a File-Backed Disk with mdmfs
# dd if=/dev/zero of=newimage bs=1k count=5k 5120+0 records in 5120+0 records out # mdmfs -F newimage -s 5m md0 /mnt # df /mnt Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Avail Capacity Mounted on /dev/md0 4718 4 4338 0% /mnt
For a memory-based file system the “swap backing” should normally be used. Using swap backing does not mean that the memory disk will be swapped out to disk by default, but merely that the memory disk will be allocated from a memory pool which can be swapped out to disk if needed. It is also possible to create memory-based disk which are malloc(9) backed, but using malloc backed memory disks, especially large ones, can result in a system panic if the kernel runs out of memory.
Example 19-6. Creating a New Memory-Based Disk with mdconfig
# mdconfig -a -t swap -s 5m -u 1 # newfs -U md1 /dev/md1: 5.0MB (10240 sectors) block size 16384, fragment size 2048 using 4 cylinder groups of 1.27MB, 81 blks, 192 inodes. with soft updates super-block backups (for fsck -b #) at: 160, 2752, 5344, 7936 # mount /dev/md1 /mnt # df /mnt Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Avail Capacity Mounted on /dev/md1 4718 4 4338 0% /mnt
When a memory-based or file-based file system is not used, you should release all resources to the system. The first thing to do is to unmount the file system, then use mdconfig(8) to detach the disk from the system and release the resources.
For example to detach and free all resources used by /dev/md4:
# mdconfig -d -u 4
It is possible to list information about configured md(4) devices in using the command mdconfig -l.