Monday, February 11, 2008

Accessing data on xen lvm guest image

Accessing xen guest image is very easy if the image is not lvm partitioned. But the main problem arise when the image is of lvm format and normal mount command cannot be used. Here I will show both the way. The first is when ext filesystem is used, and the second is when lvm is used.

To mount xen guest image (without lvm)

1. check the partition on the image
# fdisk -lu
The result will be something like this:

2. Mount using offset option
# mount -o loop,offset=106929152 /path/to/image /mnt
where 106929152=208846*512, 208846 is the start of the partition. Using this way, you only mount the second partition and not the whole image

3. You can now access your image at /mnt

To mount xen guest image (with lvm)

1. Check the partition on the image
# fdisk -lu /path/to/image

2. You have to install kpartx to handle lvm partiton
# yum install kpartx

3. Run kpartx on the image
# kpartx -av /path/to/image

4. Run vgscan to scan volume group available
# vgscan

5. Run vgchange to activate the volume group in the image
# vgchange -ay VolGroup00

6. Use lvs to see what is the name of your low volume group
# lvs

7. Mount the low volume group
# mount /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol01 /mnt

8. You can access your lvm image at the mounted directory which is /mnt

9. To unmount it, a few commands have to be executed (umount for unmounting, vgchange -an to deactivate volume group, kpartx -d to delete device map and losetup -d to delete loop device used)
# umount /mnt/
# vgchange -an VolGroup00
# kpartx -d /path/to/image
# losetup -d /dev/loop0

Hope this will be useful


Anonymous said...

thank you very much! worked for me

Anonymous said...

very useful...

Thanks for the tip

Ju said...

Thank you, it works well

Tim said...

Thank you very much! Short, easy and extremely useful for all XEN users!

Anonymous said...

Hm, doesn't really help if the outer and the inner LVM are called the same.

blackorga said...


If outer and inner are with the same name, you have to rename either one of them That is the only way to do it, from my knowledge :)

Nathan said...

Great post. I had been looking for this information for a very long time.

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Many thanks for this! The -o offset=XXX was new to me. But be warned that mount may fail with confusing errors if you try this on a running vm. Be sure to shut down the guest before mounting the lvm partition in the host.

Anonymous said...

Thank you !!!
You saved me some time with this ... was recovering FTP server config :D

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I was following your method so I could use the LVM Volume for a RAW VMDK for yuse with Virtualbox.

For me it did not create /dev/VolGroup00/LogVol01 but instead created /dev/disk/by-id/raid-VolGroup00-LogVol01-part1

Additionally this was an NTFS formatted volume but it mounted fine by using the alternate device.


nickthecook said...


Thank you.

Zhenhuan Gong Research said...

It works! Thanks a lot for this help. One quick question: when file system is mounted, the /proc file system of the VM is not visible. Is there any idea how to read information from the /proc file system? Or I need to dump the data of /proc inside the VM to read it from somewhere else? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

@Steve - The /proc fs is a pseudo-fs that only exists to make kernel configuration and running processes accessible as files. It is created at boot time so the directories under /proc don't exist in the static VM image.

Anonymous said...

Another good use for this is to be able to mount iSCSI targets on the server as read-only for backing up data stored there. I haven't tried mounting while the client is actively using the device.

Apis17™ @ BLogger said...

on ubuntu:
mount: you must specify the filesystem type

sudo mount -t ext3 /dev/VolGroup/imgname /mnt

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Lifesaver!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Lifesaver!