Yesterday I noted that Apple included a full logical volume manager in Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” without so much as a word. Today I am pleased to say that CoreStorage is much more functional than I had guessed, including a number of undocumented but seemingly functional commands for on-the-fly resizing of logical volumes as well as manipulation of physical volumes. Read on for the details, but please proceed at your own risk with these new commands!
You should probably read Mac OS X Lion Adds CoreStorage, a Volume Manager (Finally!) first!
CoreStorage Command Overview
The diskutil command is the core command line interface for CoreStorage, along with regular disk partitioning, AppleRAID, and other disk activities.
All CoreStorage functions use the “coreStorage” adverb, which can be abbreviated “cs”. For example, to show status of all CoreStorage volumes, one may type either:
diskutil coreStorage list
diskutil cs list
Typing just “diskutil cs” will show a list of nine supported “verbs”, but there are six other undocumented commands as well. Perhaps these are not fully functional (though all worked fine in my testing), or perhaps Apple simply wasn’t ready to expose them for end users to use.
I have grouped all 15 CoreStorage verbs by functional area, and note here which are officially listed and which are undocumented.
- list – Show all CoreStorage volumes
- info[rmation] – Get detailed information about a physical volume
- convert – Convert a volume into a CoreStorage volume
- revert – Revert a CoreStorage volume to its native type
Logical Volume Group Commands
- create – Create a new CoreStorage logical volume group
- delete – Delete a CoreStorage logical volume group
Physical Volume (Disk) Commands
- resizeDisk (undocumented) – Resize a physical volume
- removeDisk (undocumented) – Remove a physical volume from a logical volume group
- addDisk (undocumented) – Add a new physical volume to a logical volume group
Logical Volume Commands
- createVolume – Create a new logical volume
- unlockVolume – Mount an existing encrypted logical volume
- changeVolumePassphrase – Change the encryption password for a logical volume
- deleteVolume (undocumented) – Delete a logical volume and all of its contents
- resizeVolume (undocumented) – Grow or shrink a logical volume (non-destructive)
- resizeStack (undocumented) – Grow or shrink a logical volume as well as the logical volume group and physical volume that supports it
CoreStorage Informational Commands
Two commands are for information about volumes and disks. Note that these only return information about CoreStorage volumes: Use the bare “diskutil list” and “diskutil info” commands for non-encapsulated storage.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage list diskutil coreStorage list -plist diskutil coreStorage list UUID List all current CoreStorage objects in a tree-like view.
The verbs “info” or “information” get CoreStorage information by UUID.
CoreStorage Conversion Commands
These commands are used to convert a drive or volume to or from CoreStorage.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage convert MountPoint|DiskIdentifier|DeviceNode [-stdinpassphrase | -passphrase [passphrase]] Convert a regular JHFS+ partition into a CoreStorage logical volume. The file system must be mounted and resizable (i.e. Journaled HFS+). Ownership of the affected disk is required.
Note that CoreStorage only functions on drives that meet the following criteria:
- Partition type is GPT
- Filesystem type is Journaled HFS+ (JHFS+)
Conversion from the command line is non-destructive (unlike using Disk Utility) and is the one shot you have to encrypt a volume. If you convert it without the passphrase, it will be placed in a LVF with no encryption and there is no command to encrypt it later!
Usage: diskutil coreStorage revert MountPoint|DiskIdentifier|DeviceNode|lvUUID [-stdinpassphrase | -passphrase [passphrase] | -recoverykeychain file] Convert a CoreStorage logical volume back to its native type. The file system must be mounted and resizable (i.e. Journaled HFS+). Ownership of the affected disk and a passphrase (if encrypted) is required.
Reverting a CoreStorage volume completely returns it to its original state, including restoring the partition type and removing encryption. And it’s non-destructive. Slick!
CoreStorage Logical Volume Group Commands
These commands manipulate logical volume groups (LVGs) that have previously been created. Most use the “LVG Name”, which you can discover using the “diskutil cs list” command.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage create lvgName MountPoint|DiskIdentifier|DeviceNode ... Create a CoreStorage logical volume group from one more more disks. The specified disks will become the initial set of PVs. All existing data on the drive will be lost. Ownership of the affected disk is required. Example: diskutil coreStorage create MyLVG disk1
Note that this command is destructive. Say goodbye to your data or use the “cs convert” command! It automatically creates a PV for you.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage delete lvgUUID Delete a CoreStorage logical volume group. All logical volumes will be removed. Ownership of the affected disk is required.
This is destructive as well. Your volume will be returned to a usable state, but your data will be lost. Use “convert” and “revert” instead if possible!
CoreStorage Physical Volume (Disk) Commands
All physical volume commands are undocumented in Lion 10.7. Proceed with caution! But these are pretty cool, since they allow a LVG to span multiple physical disks!
PV commands use the word, “Disk”, which tells you a lot about what they are and what they do.
Note that the “pvUUID” and “lvgUUID” can be discovered in “diskutil cs list” and refer to the PV and LVG, respectively.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage resizeDisk pvUUID size [part1Format part1Name part1Size part2Format part2Name part2Size part3Format part3Name part3Size ...] Resize a physical volume, which is one of one or more disks that provide storage to a logical volume group. The logical volume group will have less or more available space after this operation, if it was a shrink or grow, respectively. If this is a shrink operation, you can optionally request that new partitions be created in the newly-formed free space gap. Example: diskutil coreStorage resizeDisk 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555 10g JHFS+ New 1g
This crazy-complicated command allows you to resize (both grow and shrink) active partitions non-destructively.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage removeDisk pvUUID Remove a physical volume from its CoreStorage logical volume group. Ownership of the affected disks is required. Example: diskutil coreStorage removeDisk 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555
It is unknown what will happen if a used PV is removed from an LVG. Using a combination of addDisk and removeDisk should non-destructively move data from one physical disk to another, but I couldn’t get any of this to work.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage addDisk lvgUUID NewMemberDeviceName Add a new physical volume to a CoreStorage logical volume group. Ownership of the affected disks is required. Example: diskutil coreStorage addDisk 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555 disk4
This should add additional physical capacity to an existing LVG, but I couldn’t get it to work. It always came back with “Error adding disk to CoreStorage Logical Volume Group: Invalid request (-69886)”
CoreStorage Logical Volume Commands
The logical volume commands are much more functional and friendly. Right now, the only way to really use these is to create a larger-than-needed LV and then shrink it and use the resulting space for new volumes, since you cannot yet fully create a LVG from scratch.
This creates a new LV (and LVF) within an existing LVG, using space cleared by a previous resizeVolume or deleteVolume command. It appears to always create a new LVF rather than placing an LV within an existing one. And there are no LVF manipulation commands right now.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage createVolume lvgUUID type name size [-stdinpassphrase | -passphrase [passphrase]] Add a new logical volume to a CoreStorage logical volume group. Type is the file system to initialize on the new logical volume. Valid types are Journaled HFS+ or Case-sensitive Journaled HFS+ or their aliases. Size is the amount of space to allocate from the parent logical volume group. Valid sizes are floating-point numbers with a suffix of B(ytes), S(512-byte- blocks), K(ilobytes), M(egabytes), G(igabytes), T(erabytes), P(etabytes), or (%) a percentage of the current size of the logical volume group. Example: diskutil coreStorage createVolume 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555 jhfs+ myLV 10g
One of the seemingly-handier commands that isn’t really all that useful. It’s rare that you’ll want to do this alone. Use hdiutil to mount a volume instead.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage unlockVolume lvUUID [-stdinpassphrase | -passphrase passphrase | -recoverykeychain file] Unlock a logical volume that is encrypted and currently locked. You must specify the logical volume by its CoreStorage UUID, because if it is locked it is not online. A passphrase is mandatory: you must either supply it interactively or with one of the above parameters. Example: diskutil coreStorage unlockVolume 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555
A very handy command allowing you to change the passphrase of an existing VileVault 2 encrypted volume. This is probably the one verb that will be somewhat frequently used by the average user!
Usage: diskutil coreStorage changeVolumePassphrase|passwd lvUUID [-recoverykeychain file] | [-oldpassphrase old] [-newpassphrase new] | [-stdinpassphrase] Change an encrypted logical volume's password. Beyond the CoreStorage UUID, you will be prompted interactively for parameters that you do not specify. Parameters must be given in the above order. Example: diskutil coreStorage changeVolumePassphrase 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555
This appears to work fine. You can resize a volume (given its UUID) using this command, and you won’t even lose your data!
Usage: diskutil coreStorage resizeVolume lvUUID size Resize a logical volume, which is one of one or more disks that consume storage out of a logical volume group. The logical volume group will have more or less available space after this operation, if it was a shrink or grow, respectively. Example: diskutil coreStorage resizeVolume 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555 10g
This also works fine. Create a volume and you can delete it, as long as you get the right UUID from “diskutil cs list”.
Usage: diskutil coreStorage deleteVolume lvUUID Delete a logical volume. Example: diskutil coreStorage deleteVolume 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555
Probably the coolest undocumented command, resizeStack takes a complete 1:1:1:1 CoreStorage stack (PV:LVG:LVF:LV) and resizes everything non-destructively. You’re left with a fully-operational but smaller volume and partition. Nifty!
Usage: diskutil coreStorage resizeStack lvUUID size [part1Format part1Name part1Size part2Format part2Name part2Size part3Format part3Name part3Size ...] Resize both a logical volume and its underlying physical volume in a single operation. The setup must be simple: Exactly one logical volume and one related physical volume can, and must, exist. If this is a shrink operation, you can optionally request that new partitions be created in the newly-formed free space gap. Example: diskutil coreStorage resizeStack 11111111-2222-3333-4444-555555555555 10g JHFS+ New 1g
These undocumented CoreStorage commands are eye-opening, since it shows that Apple really is working on a complete full-featured volume manager. But lots of functionality is lacking still:
- You can’t create a logical volume group (LVG) by hand, adding multiple disks. It seems like you could, but not enough works yet.
- There are no commands for manipulating logical volume families (LVFs), and they can’t even be specified when creating new logical volumes (LVs).
- The physical volume (PV or disk) commands don’t seem to work. I guess that’s why they’re undocumented!
- There are no advanced data protection features (mirror, snapshot, RAID, replicate)
- There is no ability to specify where or how an LV is created or to move an LV from one LVF, PV, or LVG to another.
Clearly, CoreStorage is much more than a simple stack to support FileVault 2 encryption. Apple no only built an entire volume manager but also outfitted it with a good set of commands for configuration. Too bad it still lacks so many key features, and that so many of these are unofficial and hidden.
I feel confident that Mac OS X CoreStorage will become much more functional in the future, with complete volume manipulation and migration tools built into the GUI. For now, though, I must remind readers that this is all unofficial and you must proceed with caution. Back up your data, and do not assume that just because cool commands like resizeStack exist they are 100% ready for use!
Note: The pre-formatted text above comes straight from the diskutil command and its “help” responses. I discovered these undocumented verbs through trial and error and the judicial use of the “strings” command!