I have a Ubuntu 8.10 software RAID5 setup that uses 4 active disks and 1 spare. The spare disk has three partitions, one of which is devoted to the spare function. I am using a second partition on the spare disk to be a home to the write-intent bitmap file specified with the --bitmap option in the mdadm command line. Whenever I do a
mdadm --detail -v /dev/md2 after reboot, it fails to show the Intent Bitmap. I have to manually do an mdadm command to get the Intent Bitmap going again.
My chief concern is that a disk will fail, perhaps under the stress of a power outage, and then, when the machine reboots, it will start resyncing to the spare, but without taking notice of the Intent Bitmap. Can mdadm (or mdadm.conf, or any other config file) be used to instruct mdadm or Ubuntu to set up the write-intent bitmap on reboot? Will that help to allow a rapid transition from an inconsistent state to a consistent & clean state?
For the uninitiated: the write-intent bitmap is a small file that tracks the intended write that will be placed on RAID, so that if the write does not complete to all disks, the processor has only to look to those sectors/tracks where the write was incomplete in order to assure consistency among the disks. Without that file, all tracks are treated as suspect, and a data-intensive operation that takes (what hours, days?) begins to bring everything consistent.