Zoned Block Device User Interface

User applications can access zone information and manage zones of a zoned block device using two types of interfaces.

  1. sysfs attribute files accessible either directly from applications as regular files or form scripted languages (shell scripts, python, etc).

  2. ioctl() system calls suitable for use from C programs or other programming languages with an equivalent system call binding.

The sysfs files and ioctl() commands available to applications have evolved since the introduction of zoned block device support in Kernel 4.10. The availability of files and commands per kernel version is detailed in the following sections.

Sysfs Interface

Programs using script languages (e.g. bash scripts) can access a zoned device information through sysfs attribute files. The attribute files provided are shown in the following table.

File Kernel version Description
/sys/block/dev name/queue/zoned 4.10.0 Device zoned model
/sys/block/dev name/queue/chunk_sectors 4.10.0 Device zone size
/sys/block/dev name/queue/nr_zones 4.20.0 Total number of zones

Device Zoned Model

The zone model of a zoned device can be discovered using the zoned device queue attribute file. For instance, for a zoned block device named sdb, the following shell command displays the device zoned model.

# cat /sys/block/sdb/queue/zoned

The possible values of the zoned attribute file are shown in the table below.

Value Description
none Regular block device, including drive managed SMR disks
host-aware Host aware device model
host-managed Host managed device model

Device Zone Size

The device zone size can be read from the sysfs queue attribute file named chunk_sectors. For the same device named sdb as in the previous example, the following command gives the device zone size.

# cat /sys/block/sdb/queue/chunk_sectors

The value is displayed as a number of 512B sectors, regardless of the actual logical and physical block size of the device. In this example, the device zone size is 524288 x 512 = 256 MiB.

Number of Zones

Starting with Linux kernel version 4.20.0, the sysfs queue attribute file nr_zones is available to obtain the total number of zones of a zoned device.

# cat /sys/block/sdb/queue/nr_zones

This attribute value is always 0 for a regular block device.

ioctl() Application Programming Interface

The C header file /usr/include/linux/blkzoned.h contains macro definitions and data structure definitions allowing an application developer to obtain information on a zoned block device and to manage the zones of the device.

Zone Information Data Structures

The data structure struct blk_zone defines a zone descriptor structure which completely describes a zone information: the zone location on the device, the zone type, its condition (state), and the position of the zone write pointer for sequential zones.

 * struct blk_zone - Zone descriptor for BLKREPORTZONE ioctl.
 * @start: Zone start in 512 B sector units
 * @len: Zone length in 512 B sector units
 * @wp: Zone write pointer location in 512 B sector units
 * @type: see enum blk_zone_type for possible values
 * @cond: see enum blk_zone_cond for possible values
 * @non_seq: Flag indicating that the zone is using non-sequential resources
 *           (for host-aware zoned block devices only).
 * @reset: Flag indicating that a zone reset is recommended.
 * @reserved: Padding to 64 B to match the ZBC/ZAC defined zone descriptor size.
 * start, len and wp use the regular 512 B sector unit, regardless of the
 * device logical block size. The overall structure size is 64 B to match the
 * ZBC/ZAC defined zone descriptor and allow support for future additional
 * zone information.
struct blk_zone {
        __u64   start;          /* Zone start sector */
        __u64   len;            /* Zone length in number of sectors */
        __u64   wp;             /* Zone write pointer position */
        __u8    type;           /* Zone type */
        __u8    cond;           /* Zone condition */
        __u8    non_seq;        /* Non-sequential write resources active */
        __u8    reset;          /* Reset write pointer recommended */
        __u8    reserved[36];

As indicated in the comments to this data structure definition, the unit that is used to indicate the zone start position, size and write pointer position is 512B sector size, regardless of the actual logical block size of the device. Even for a device with a 4KB physical sector, the above zone descriptor fields use a 512-byte sector unit.

Zone Type

The type field of a zone descriptor can only have one of the values defined by the enumeration enum blk_zone_type.

 * enum blk_zone_type - Types of zones allowed in a zoned device.
 * @BLK_ZONE_TYPE_CONVENTIONAL: The zone has no write pointer and can be writen
 *                              randomly. Zone reset has no effect on the zone.
 * @BLK_ZONE_TYPE_SEQWRITE_REQ: The zone must be written sequentially
 * @BLK_ZONE_TYPE_SEQWRITE_PREF: The zone can be written non-sequentially
 * Any other value not defined is reserved and must be considered as invalid.
enum blk_zone_type {
        BLK_ZONE_TYPE_CONVENTIONAL      = 0x1,
        BLK_ZONE_TYPE_SEQWRITE_REQ      = 0x2,
        BLK_ZONE_TYPE_SEQWRITE_PREF     = 0x3,

Zone Condition

The cond field of the struct blkzone data structure defines the current condition of a zone. The possible condition (state) values of this field are defined by the blk_zone_cond enumeration.

 * enum blk_zone_cond - Condition [state] of a zone in a zoned device.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_NOT_WP: The zone has no write pointer, it is conventional.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_EMPTY: The zone is empty.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_IMP_OPEN: The zone is open, but not explicitly opened.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_EXP_OPEN: The zones was explicitly opened by an
 *                          OPEN ZONE command.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_CLOSED: The zone was [explicitly] closed after writing.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_FULL: The zone is marked as full, possibly by a zone
 *                      FINISH ZONE command.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_READONLY: The zone is read-only.
 * @BLK_ZONE_COND_OFFLINE: The zone is offline (sectors cannot be read/written).
 * The Zone Condition state machine in the ZBC/ZAC standards maps the above
 * deinitions as:
 *   - ZC1: Empty         | BLK_ZONE_EMPTY
 *   - ZC2: Implicit Open | BLK_ZONE_COND_IMP_OPEN
 *   - ZC3: Explicit Open | BLK_ZONE_COND_EXP_OPEN
 *   - ZC4: Closed        | BLK_ZONE_CLOSED
 *   - ZC5: Full          | BLK_ZONE_FULL
 *   - ZC6: Read Only     | BLK_ZONE_READONLY
 *   - ZC7: Offline       | BLK_ZONE_OFFLINE
 * Conditions 0x5 to 0xC are reserved by the current ZBC/ZAC spec and should
 * be considered invalid.
enum blk_zone_cond {
        BLK_ZONE_COND_NOT_WP    = 0x0,
        BLK_ZONE_COND_EMPTY     = 0x1,
        BLK_ZONE_COND_IMP_OPEN  = 0x2,
        BLK_ZONE_COND_EXP_OPEN  = 0x3,
        BLK_ZONE_COND_CLOSED    = 0x4,
        BLK_ZONE_COND_FULL      = 0xE,
        BLK_ZONE_COND_OFFLINE   = 0xF,

Under a device normal operation, some of the conditions defined cannot result directly from a host initiated operation. These conditions are BLK_ZONE_COND_OFFLINE and BLK_ZONE_COND_READONLY and can only be set by the device itself to indicate zones with capabilities limited by a hardware defect.

The condition BLK_ZONE_COND_EXP_OPEN, or explicit open, is the result of a successful execution of an OPEN ZONE command (see Zone Block Commands.

Since the OPEN ZONE command is not supported by the kernel ZBD interface, a zone can be transitioned in the explicit open zone condition only by using direct device access, that is, issuing the SCSI OPEN ZONE command through the SG_IO interface (using libzbc, libzbc zbc_open_zone utility or the sg_zone utility).

ioctl() Commands

Several ioctl() commands are defined to manipulate obtain information and manipulate zones of a zoned block device. All commands supported are shown below.

 * Zoned block device ioctl's:
 * @BLKREPORTZONE: Get zone information. Takes a zone report as argument.
 *                 The zone report will start from the zone containing the
 *                 sector specified in the report request structure.
 * @BLKRESETZONE: Reset the write pointer of the zones in the specified
 *                sector range. The sector range must be zone aligned.
 * @BLKGETZONESZ: Get the device zone size in number of 512 B sectors.
 * @BLKGETNRZONES: Get the total number of zones of the device.
 * @BLKOPENZONE: Open the zones in the specified sector range.
 *               The 512 B sector range must be zone aligned.
 * @BLKCLOSEZONE: Close the zones in the specified sector range.
 *                The 512 B sector range must be zone aligned.
 * @BLKFINISHZONE: Mark the zones as full in the specified sector range.
 *                 The 512 B sector range must be zone aligned.
#define BLKREPORTZONE   _IOWR(0x12, 130, struct blk_zone_report)
#define BLKRESETZONE    _IOW(0x12, 131, struct blk_zone_range)
#define BLKGETZONESZ    _IOR(0x12, 132, __u32)
#define BLKGETNRZONES   _IOR(0x12, 133, __u32)
#define BLKOPENZONE     _IOW(0x12, 134, struct blk_zone_range)
#define BLKCLOSEZONE    _IOW(0x12, 135, struct blk_zone_range)
#define BLKFINISHZONE   _IOW(0x12, 136, struct blk_zone_range)

Not all commands are available on all kernel versions. The following table shows the kernel version that introduced each command.

Command Kernel version Description
BLKREPORTZONE 4.10.0 Get zone information
BLKRESETZONE 4.10.0 Reset a zone write pointer
BLKGETZONESZ 4.20.0 Get a device zone size
BLKGETNRZONES 4.20.0 Get the total number of zones of a device
BLKOPENZONE 5.5.0 Explicitly open a zone
BLKCLOSEZONE 5.5.0 Close a zone
BLKFINISHZONE 5.5.0 Finish a zone

Obtaining Zone Information

The BLKREPORTZONE command allows an application to obtain a device zone information in the form of an array of zone descriptors. The data argument passed to the ioctl() must be the address of a memory area large enough to store one struct blk_zone_report header structure followed by an array of zone descriptors.

The zone report header structure blk_zone_report is as shown below.

 * struct blk_zone_report - BLKREPORTZONE ioctl request/reply
 * @sector: starting sector of report
 * @nr_zones: IN maximum / OUT actual
 * @reserved: padding to 16 byte alignment
 * @zones: Space to hold @nr_zones @zones entries on reply.
 * The array of at most @nr_zones must follow this structure in memory.
struct blk_zone_report {
        __u64           sector;
        __u32           nr_zones;
        __u8            reserved[4];
        struct blk_zone zones[0];

The header indicates the 512-byte sector from which the report should start and the number of zone descriptors in the array following the header. A typical use of the BLKREPORTZONE command to obtain information on all the zones of a device is as shown below.

#include <stdlib.h>
#include <linux/blkzoned.h>

unsigned long long start_sector = 0;
struct blk_zone_report *hdr;
size_t hdr_len;
int nr_zones = 256;

hdr_len = sizeof(struct blk_zone_report) + nr_zones * sizeof(struct blkzone);
hdr = malloc(hdr_len);
if (!hdr)
    return -1;

while (1) {
    hdr->sector = start_sector;
    hdr->nr_zones = nr_zones;

    ret = ioctl(fd, BLKREPORTZONE, hdr);
    if (ret)
        goto error;

    if (!hdr->nr_zones) {
        /* Done */

    printf("Got %u zone descriptors\n", hdr->nr_zones);

    /* The next report must start after the last zone reported */
    start_sector = hdr->zones[hdr->nr_zones - 1].start +
               hdr->zones[hdr->nr_zones - 1].len;

The number of zone descriptors obtained is returned to the user using the nr_zones field of the report header structure blk_zone_report.

The command line utility blkzone, part of the util-linux project, uses the BLKREPORTZONE command to implement its report function.

Resetting a Zone Write Pointer

The write pointer of a single sequential zone or of a range of contiguous sequential zones can be reset using the BLKRESETZONE command. Resetting a sequential zone write pointer position will also transition the zone to the Empty condition (BLK_ZONE_COND_EMPTY).

The range of zones to reset is defined using the data structure blk_zone_range shown below.

 * struct blk_zone_range - BLKRESETZONE/BLKOPENZONE/
 *                         BLKCLOSEZONE/BLKFINISHZONE ioctl
 *                         requests
 * @sector: Starting sector of the first zone to operate on.
 * @nr_sectors: Total number of sectors of all zones to operate on.
struct blk_zone_range {
        __u64           sector;
        __u64           nr_sectors;

The sector field must specify the start sector of the first zone to reset. The nr_sectors field specifies the total length of the range of zones to reset. This length must be at least as large as one zone.

As indicated in comments describing the blk_zone_range structure, the commands BLKOPENZONE, BLKCLOSEZONE and BLKFINISHZONE also use this data structure to define the range of zones on which the command will operate.

The following code shows an example use of the BLKRESETZONE command to reset a single zone starting at sector 274726912 with a zone size of 256 MiB (524288 sectors of 512B).

#include <linux/blkzoned.h>

struct blk_zone_range zrange;
int ret;

zrange.sector = 274726912;
zrange.nr_sectors = 524288;

ret = ioctl(fd, BLKRESETZONE, &zrange);
if (ret)
    goto error;

The device file descriptor fd must be open for writing for this command to succeed.

The command line utility blkzone uses the BLKRESETZONE command to implement its reset functionality.

Opening, Closing and Finishing Zones

Explicitely opening a zone or a range of zones can be done using the BLKOPENZONE command. This command uses the same arguments as the BLKRESETZONE command. It takes a pointer to a data structure blk_zone_range which must specifies the range of zones to operate on.

Closing a zone is done using the command BLKCLOSEZONE. Finishing a zone, that is transitioning the zone to the full condition (BLK_ZONE_COND_FULL), is done using the BLKFINISHZONE command. Both of these commands also take as an argument a pointer to a blk_zone_range data structure to specify the range of zones to operate on.

The BLKOPENZONE, BLKCLOSEZONE and BLKFINISHZONE commands were introduced with kernel version 5.5.0.

Zone Size and Number of Zones

Linux® kernel version 4.20 introduced two new additional commands to obtain a zoned device zone size (BLKGETZONESZ) and the total number of zones of the device (BLKGETNRZONES). Both commands take a pointer to an unsigned 32-bits integer variable as argument where the zone size value or the number of zones will be returned. The following sample C code illustrates the use of these commands.

#include <linux/blkzoned.h>
#include <stdio.h>

unsigned int nr_zones, zone_size;
int ret;

ret = ioctl(fd, ,BLKGETZONESZ, &zone_size);
if (ret)
    goto error;
ret = ioctl(fd, ,BLKGETNRZONES, &nr_zones);
if (ret)
    goto error;

printf("Device has %u zones of %u 512-Bytes sectors\n",
       nr_zones, zone_size);

The command BLKGETNRZONES is especially useful to allocate an array of zone descriptors large enough for a zone report of all zones of a device.