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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change the size of the zones of a device?

The size of the zones of a physical zoned device are fixed at manufacturing time by the device vendor. For a particular device model, it is not possible to change the zone size.

Device emulation software such as tcmu-runner allow defining zoned block devices with different zone sizes. While this does not replace the ability to change an existing device zone size, such solution allows exploring the impact of the device zone size on the application being developed.

With a host managed drive, how do I change the position of a zone write pointer?

The write pointer position of a zone changes automatically in response to the following commands.

  • A write operation (regular write command, write same command, etc) issue with a starting LBA equal to the zone write pointer current location: the write pointer position advances by an amount of LBA equal to the amount of blocks written.
  • A zone reset operation: the write pointer position of the zone is returned to the start of the zone.
  • A disk format operation: the write pointer of all zones is reset.

No other command, operation or user action can change the position of a zone write pointer to any position within the zone.

How do I rewind the position of a zone write pointer?

As mentioned in the previous question reply, resetting a zone will rewind the zone write pointer position to the first LBA of the zone. A full disk format operation will also reset all zones.

How do I partially rewind the position of a zone write pointer?

This is not possible. A zone write pointer can only be moved back to the start LBA of the zone using a reset write pointer command.

Can I create partitions on my host managed disk?

Kernel versions 4.10 to 5.4 include support for partition tables on host managed zoned block devices. However, partitioning tools such as gparted generally used to create GUID partition tables do not support host managed zoned devices that do not have a conventional zone at the beginning and end of the LBA space. If the first and last zones of the device are sequential write required zones, the writing the primary and secondary GPT header and table entries will likely fail, resulting in an incorrect or corrupted partition table that will not be recognized by the kernel block layer.

Note

Linux® kernel mandates that partitions of a zoned block device be zone aligned. That is, the start sector of a disk partitions must be the start sector of a zone and the end sector of the partition must be the last sector of a zone.

Support for partition tables on host managed zoned block devices has been removed from the kernel with version 5.5.0. Using the dm-linear device mapper target to isolate smaller portions of a large host managed disk can be a replacement solution.

More information on partition support can be found here.