Logical Volume partitioning

LVM partitioning - Logical Volume Manager

The following is a basic introduction. It is up to the esteemed reader to delve deeper into the subject. Further sources of information can be found at the end of this text - the list does not claim to be complete.

Working with Logical Volumes is much easier than most users think. The best feature of LVM is that changes take effect without having to reboot the system. Logical Volumes can span multiple disks and are scalable. This distinguishes them from other methods of disk partitioning.

You should be familiar with three basic terms:

Six steps to logical volumes

We assume non-partitioned hard disks in our example. Note: If old partitions are deleted, all data will be irretrievably lost.

As partition editor, either cfdisk or gdisk must be used because currently neither GParted nor the KDE partition manager support the creation of logical volumes. See also the manual pages:
Partitioning with cfdisk (msdos-MBR)
Partitioning with gdisk (GPT-UEFI)

All of the following commands and actions require root privileges.

  1. Creating of a partition table

    cfdisk /dev/sda
    n  -> creates a new partition on the drive
    p  -> this partition becomes a primary partition
    1  -> the partition gets the number 1
          as identification "size allocation" sets the
          first and last cylinder to default values.
          Press ENTER to span the whole drive
    t  -> selects the partition type to create
    8e -> the hex code for a Linux LVM
    W  -> writes changes to the drive

    The command W writes the partitioning table. If a mistake was made up to this point, the existing partitioning layout can be restored. For this purpose, enter the command q for cfdisk to exit without writing, and everything remains as it has been before.

    If the volume group is to span more than one physical volume (disk), the above operation must be performed on each physical volume.

  2. Creating a physical volume

    pvcreate /dev/sda1

    The command creates the physical volume on the first partition of the first hard disk.
    This process is to be repeated on each partition as needed.

  3. Creating a volume group

    Now we add the physical volumes to a volume group named vulcan (three drives in our example):

    vgcreate vulcan /dev/sda1 /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1

    If this step has been performed correctly, the result can be seen in the output of the following command:


    vgdisplay displays the size with:

    vgdisplay vulcan
  4. Creating a logical volume

    At this point you have to decide how big the logical volume should be at the beginning. One advantage of LVM is the ability to adjust the size without rebooting.

    In our example, we want a 300GB volume named spock inside the volume group named vulcan:

    lvcreate -n spock --size 300g vulcan
  5. Formatting the logical volume

    Please be patient, this process may take some time:

    mkfs.ext4 /dev/vulcan/spock
  6. Mounting the logical volume

    Create the mount point with

    mkdir /media/spock/

    Using /dev/vulcan/spock is preferable to using UUID numbers with an LVM because it makes it easier to clone the file system (no UUID collisions). An LVM allows to create file systems with identical UUID numbers (classic example: snapshots). To mount the volume during the boot process, fstab must be customized with a text editor:

    mcedit /etc/fstab

Then insert the following line according to our example:

/dev/vulcan/spock /media/spock/ ext4 auto,users,rw,exec,dev,relatime 0 2

The owner of the volume can be changed so that other users have read/write access to the logical volume:

chown root:users /media/spock
chmod 775 /media/spock

We can now repeat steps 4 to 6 for the new logical volume kirk to be created.

A simple LVM should now be usable.

Resizing a volume

We recommend using a live ISO to resize partitions. Although increasing the partition size of the running system can be done without error, decreasing the size of a partition cannot. Anomalies can lead to data loss, especially if the / (root) or /home directories are affected.

Example of an enlargement

A partition is to be enlarged from 300GB to 500GB:

umount /media/spock/

Extend the logical volume:

lvextend -L+200g /dev/vulcan/spock

The lvextend command needs to be given the size difference as an option, not the total size desired.

Then resize the file system:
The first command forcibly performs a check, even if the file system appears to be clean.
The last command remounts the logical volume.

e2fsck -f /dev/vulcan/spock
resize2fs /dev/vulcan/spock
mount /media/spock

Example of a resize

A partition is resized from 500GB to 280GB:

umount /media/spock/

Reduce the size of the file system:

e2fsck -f /dev/vulcan/spock
resize2fs /dev/vulcan/spock 280g

After that, the logical volume is changed.

lvreduce -L-220g /dev/vulcan/spock
resize2fs /dev/vulcan/spock
mount /media/spock

Again, the lvreduce command must be given the size difference as an option.
The resize2sf command resizes the file system exactly to the logical volume’s size.

Manage LVM with a GUI program

Gparted offers the possibility to manage already created logical volumes. The program needs to be executed as root.

More info

Logical Volume Manager - Wikipedia
Working with logical volumes #1
Working with logical volumes #2
Working with logical volumes #3
Resizing Linux partitions - part 2 (IBM)

Last edited: 2022/04/01