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  • What is Logical Volume Manager (LVM)

The Logical Volume Manager, or LVM, is a Linux-based program that provides storage virtualization for system administrators. Since it's far more flexible than disk partitioning, it's become a common alternative. Although it's primarily used in large-scale settings, like when balancing the needs of various end users, it's useful in some applications of personal computing, too.

How to Use LVM
Multiple scenarios involve the LVM, each of which has a useful application in modern computing. The LVM is most often used for:

  • Creating solitary logical volumes out of two or more physical volumes while accommodating dynamic volume resizing
  • Managing and controlling hard disk farms, which often utilize hot swapping to add and replace drives as necessary
  • Creating volume snapshots as a means of data backup and redundancy
  • Encrypting two or more physical partitions with a single password
  • Resizing file systems as needed on a desktop PC
  • Utilizing RAID functionality, particularly RAID levels 1, 5 or 6

LVM Functionality Apart from its primary uses, the Logical Volume Manager has some specific features. These can be categorized into basic and advanced features. Basic features include:

  • Resizing volume groups by adding new physical volumes or ejecting existing volumes
  • Resizing logical volumes by concatenating or truncating extents
  • Moving logical volumes between multiple physical volumes
  • Creating read-only or read/write snapshots of logical volumes and utilizing copy-on-write functionality
  • Splitting and merging volume groups
  • Activating volume groups and logical volumes
  • Designating LVM-specific objects to make them easily findable by system administrators

While the LVM's basic features comprise the majority of its functionality, there are some advanced features to consider, too. Advanced features include:

  • Creating hybrid volumes that use SSDs as cache drives for traditional HDDs
  • Allocating logical volumes from a drive pool
  • Sharing physical volumes between multiple host computers in a shared-storage cluster

LVM Pros and Cons Like with most systems, there are some advantages and disadvantages to consider. Some of the LVM's biggest benefits include:

  • Easily expand the size of a volume whenever it's needed
  • Create data snapshots for data backup purposes
  • Utilize a JBOD architecture without implementing RAID

Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks, too. These include:

  • Adding unnecessary time and complexity during the initial system setup
  • Data corruption problems in early versions
  • Lack of kernel support

In most scenarios, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to Linux's LVM. It's a highly useful feature that improve overall system efficiency when used correctly, but there is a learning curve to overcome if you hope to master all of its features and functionality.

History of the Logical Volume Manager
Linux's LVM hasn't been around since the platform's inception. First introduced in 1998, it's now included by default on many Linux distros. It was originally developed by Heinz Mauelshagen while working with Sistina Software. He was heavily inspired by the volume manager featured in the HP-UX – an early iteration of the Unix operating system as done by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

You may read more about Logical Volume Manager in the article in Wikipedia: Logical Volume Manager (Linux).

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