Distributed Replicated Block Device (DRBD) mirrors block devices between multiple hosts. The replication is transparent to other applications on the host systems. Any block device hard disks, partitions, RAID devices, logical volumes, etc can be mirrored.

To get started using drbd, first install the necessary packages. From a terminal enter:

sudo apt-get install drbd8-utils

This section covers setting up a drbd to replicate a separate /srv partition, with an ext3 filesystem between two hosts. The partition size is not particularly relevant, but both partitions need to be the same size.


The two hosts in this example will be called drbd01 and drbd02. They will need to have name resolution configured either through DNS or the /etc/hosts file. See Capítol 7, Domain Name Service (DNS) for details.

  • To configure drbd, on the first host edit /etc/drbd.conf:

    global { usage-count no; }
    common { syncer { rate 100M; } }
    resource r0 {
            protocol C;
            startup {
                    wfc-timeout  15;
                    degr-wfc-timeout 60;
            net {
                    cram-hmac-alg sha1;
                    shared-secret "secret";
            on drbd01 {
                    device /dev/drbd0;
                    disk /dev/sdb1;
                    meta-disk internal;
            on drbd02 {
                    device /dev/drbd0;
                    disk /dev/sdb1;
                    meta-disk internal;

    There are many other options in /etc/drbd.conf, but for this example their default values are fine.

  • Now copy /etc/drbd.conf to the second host:

    scp /etc/drbd.conf drbd02:~
  • And, on drbd02 move the file to /etc:

    sudo mv drbd.conf /etc/
  • Next, on both hosts, start the drbd daemon:

    sudo /etc/init.d/drbd start
  • Now using the drbdadm utility initialize the meta data storage. On each server execute:

    sudo drbdadm create-md r0
  • On the drbd01, or whichever host you wish to be the primary, enter the following:

    sudo drbdadm -- --overwrite-data-of-peer primary all
  • After executing the above command, the data will start syncing with the secondary host. To watch the progresss, on drbd02 enter the following:

    watch -n1 cat /proc/drbd

    To stop watching the output press Ctrl+c.

  • Finally, add a filesystem to /dev/drbd0 and mount it:

    sudo mkfs.ext3 /dev/drbd0
    sudo mount /dev/drbd0 /srv


To test that the data is actually syncing between the hosts copy some files on the drbd01, the primary, to /srv:

sudo cp -r /etc/default /srv

Next, unmount /srv:

sudo umount /srv

Demote the primary server to the secondary role:

sudo drbdadm secondary r0

Now on the the secondary server promote it to the primary role:

sudo drbdadm primary r0

Lastly, mount the partition:

sudo mount /dev/drbd0 /srv

Using ls you should see /srv/default copied from the former primary host drbd01.