Pop!_OS 20.04 with btrfs-LVM-luks-RAID1 installation guide and auto-apt snapshots with Timeshift


Note that this written guide is an updated version of the video and contains much more information.

Overview

Since a couple of months, I am exclusively using btrfs as my filesystem on all my systems, see Why I (still) like btrfs. So, in this guide I will show how to install Pop!_OS 20.04 with the following structure:

  • a btrfs-LVM-inside-luks partition for the root filesystem on two hard disks in a RAID1 managed by btrfs
    • the btrfs logical volume contains a subvolume @ for / and a subvolume @home for /home. Note that the Pop!_OS installer does not create any subvolumes on btrfs, so we need to do this manually.
  • an encrypted swap partition
  • an unencrypted EFI partition for the systemd bootloader duplicated on both disks
  • an unencrypted partition for the Pop!_OS recovery system duplicated on both disks
  • automatic system snapshots and easy rollback similar to zsys using:
    • Timeshift which will regularly take (almost instant) snapshots of the system
    • timeshift-autosnap-apt which will automatically run Timeshift on any APT operation and also keep a backup of your EFI partition inside the snapshot
  • If you don’t need RAID1, follow this guide: Pop!_OS 20.04 btrfs-luks

With this setup you basically get the same comfort of Ubuntu’s 20.04’s ZFS and zsys initiative, but with much more flexibility and comfort due to the awesome Timeshift program, which saved my bacon quite a few times. This setup works similarly well on other distributions, for which I also have installation guides with optional RAID1.

If you ever need to rollback your system, checkout Recovery and system rollback with Timeshift. In the video, I also show what to do if your RAID1 is broken.

Step 0: General remarks

I strongly advise to try the following installation steps in a virtual machine first before doing anything like that on real hardware!

So, let’s spin up a virtual machine with 4 cores, 8 GB RAM, and two 64GB disk using e.g. the awesome bash script quickemu which I have adapted on a GitHub project to automatically create 2 disks. I can confirm that the installation works equally well on my Dell Precision 7520 (RAID1 between a SSD and NVME).

This tutorial is made with Pop!_OS 20.04 from https://system76.com/pop copied to an installation media (usually a USB Flash device but may be a DVD or the ISO file attached to a virtual machine hypervisor). Other versions of Pop!_OS and other distributions that use Systemd boot manager should also work, see my other installation guides.

Step 1: Boot the install, check UEFI mode and open an interactive root shell

Since most modern PCs have UEFI, I will cover only the UEFI installation (see the References on how to deal with Legacy installs). So, boot the installation medium in UEFI mode and choose Try or install Pop!_OS. Once the Live Desktop environment has started choose your language, region, and keyboard layout, then hit Try Demo Mode. Open a terminal (META + T) and run the following command:

mount | grep efivars
# efivarfs on /sys/firmware/efi/efivars type efivarfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,noexec,relatime)

to detect whether you are in UEFI mode. Now switch to an interactive root session:

sudo -i

You might find maximizing the terminal window is helpful for working with the command-line. Do not close this terminal window during the whole installation process until we are finished with everything.

Step 2: Prepare partitions manually

Create partition table and layout

First find out the name of your drive. For me the installation target device is called vda and I will use vdb for the RAID1 managed by btrfs:

lsblk
# NAME  MAJ:MIN RM  SIZE RO TYPE MOUNTPOINT
# loop0   7:0    0    2G  1 loop /rofs
# sr0    11:0    1  2.1G  0 rom  /cdrom
# sr1    11:1    1 1024M  0 rom  
# sr2    11:2    1 1024M  0 rom  
# vda   252:0    0   64G  0 disk 
# vdb   252:16   0   64G  0 disk 

You can also open gparted or have a look into the /dev folder to make sure what your hard drives are called. In most cases they are called sda and sdb for normal SSD and HDD, whereas for NVME storage the naming is nvme0 and nvme1. Also note that there are no partitions or data on my hard drive, you should always double check which partition layout fits your use case, particularly if you dual-boot with other systems.

We’ll now create a disk table and add three partitions on vda and vdb:

  1. a 498 MiB FAT32 EFI partition for the systemd bootloader
  2. a 4 GiB FAT32 partition for the Pop!_OS recovery system
  3. a 4 GiB partition for encrypted swap use
  4. a luks2 encrypted partition which contains a LVM with one logical volume formatted with btrfs, which will be our root filesystem

Some remarks:

  • The LVM is actually a bit of an overkill for my typical use case, but otherwise the installer cannot access the luks partition.
  • /boot will reside on the encrypted partition. The systemd bootloader is able to decrypt this at boot time.
  • With btrfs I do not need any other partitions for e.g. /home, as we will use subvolumes instead.
  • As we plan to use RAID1 managed by btrfs, we cannot use swapfiles as these are not supported in RAID1.

Let’s use parted for this (feel free to use gparted accordingly):

parted /dev/vda
  mklabel gpt
  mkpart primary fat32 2MiB 500MiB
  mkpart primary fat32 500MiB 4596MiB
  mkpart primary linux-swap 4596MiB 8692MiB
  mkpart primary 8692MiB 100%
  set 1 bios_grub on
  set 1 esp on
  set 3 swap on
  print
# Model: Virtio Block Device (virtblk)
# Disk /dev/vda: 68.7GB
# Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
# Partition Table: gpt
# Disk Flags: 
# 
# Number  Start   End     Size    File system     Name     Flags
#  1      2097kB  524MB   522MB   fat32           primary  boot, esp
#  2      524MB   4819MB  4295MB  fat32           primary
#  3      4819MB  9114MB  4295MB  linux-swap(v1)  primary  swap
#  4      9114MB  68.7GB  59.6GB                  primary
  quit

And the same commands for vdb:

parted /dev/vdb
  mklabel gpt
  mkpart primary fat32 2MiB 500MiB
  mkpart primary fat32 500MiB 4596MiB
  mkpart primary linux-swap 4596MiB 8692MiB
  mkpart primary 8692MiB 100%
  set 1 bios_grub on
  set 1 esp on
  set 3 swap on
  print
# Model: Virtio Block Device (virtblk)
# Disk /dev/vdb: 68.7GB
# Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/512B
# Partition Table: gpt
# Disk Flags: 
# 
# Number  Start   End     Size    File system     Name     Flags
#  1      2097kB  524MB   522MB   fat32           primary  boot, esp
#  2      524MB   4819MB  4295MB  fat32           primary
#  3      4819MB  9114MB  4295MB  linux-swap(v1)  primary  swap
#  4      9114MB  68.7GB  59.6GB                  primary
  quit

Create luks2 partitions, LVM and btrfs root filesystems

Pop!_OS uses the systemd bootloader, which can handle luks type 2 encryption just fine at boot time, so we can use the default options of cryptsetup luksFormat to format our vda4 and vdb4 partitions and map them to devices called crypt_vda and crypt_vdb:

cryptsetup luksFormat /dev/vda4
# WARNING!
# ========
# This will overwrite data on /dev/vda4 irrevocably.
# Are you sure? (Type uppercase yes): YES
# Enter passphrase for /dev/vda4: 
# Verify passphrase:
cryptsetup luksFormat /dev/vdb4
# WARNING!
# ========
# This will overwrite data on /dev/vdb4 irrevocably.
# Are you sure? (Type uppercase yes): YES
# Enter passphrase for /dev/vdb4: 
# Verify passphrase:

cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/vda4 crypt_vda
# Enter passphrase for /dev/vda4:
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/vdb4 crypt_vdb
# Enter passphrase for /dev/vdb4:

ls /dev/mapper
# control  crypt_vda  crypt_vdb

Use very good passwords here. Now we need to create the LVM for the Pop!_OS installer:

  • make crypt_vda and crypt_vdb physical volumes
  • add new volume groups called data_vda and data_vdb
  • create a logical volume inside both volume groups named root

These are also the steps the POP!_OS installer performs when you click Clean install, albeit with ext4 as the filesystem and another logical volume for encrypted swap. So here are the commands:

pvcreate /dev/mapper/crypt_vda
# Physical volume "/dev/mapper/crypt_vda" successfully created
pvcreate /dev/mapper/crypt_vdb
# Physical volume "/dev/mapper/crypt_vdb" successfully created

vgcreate data_vda /dev/mapper/crypt_vda
# Volume group "data_vda" successfully created
vgcreate data_vdb /dev/mapper/crypt_vdb
# Volume group "data_vdb" successfully created

lvcreate -n root -l 100%FREE data_vda
# Logical volume "root" created.
lvcreate -n root -l 100%FREE data_vdb
# Logical volume "root" created.

ls /dev/mapper/
# control  crypt_vda  crypt_vdb  data_vda-root  data_vdb-root
cryptsetup luksClose /dev/mapper/data_vda-root
cryptsetup luksClose /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root
cryptsetup luksClose /dev/mapper/crypt_vda
cryptsetup luksClose /dev/mapper/crypt_vdb
ls /dev/mapper
# control

data_vda-root will be the installation target for root during the graphical installer. We will use the Pop!_OS installer to format it to btrfs and install the system to it. After the installation we create the RAID1 with btrfs between data_vda-root and data_vdb-root, and also create two subvolumes:

  • @ for /
  • @home for /home This is due to the fact that the Pop!_OS installer does not create any subvolumes by default, so we will do that manually.

Step 3: Install POP!_OS using the graphical installer

Now let’s return to the installation process choose Custom (Advanced). You will see your partitioned hard disk:

  • Click on the first partition on vda, activate Use partition, activate Format, Use as Boot /boot/efi, Filesystem: fat32.
  • Click on the second partition on vda, activate Use partition, activate Format, Use as Custom and enter /recovery, Filesystem: fat32.
  • Click on the third partition on vda, activate Use partition, Use as Swap.
  • Click on the fourth and largest partition on vda. A Decrypt This Partition dialog opens, enter your luks password and change the name to crypt_vda, hit Decrypt. A new line is displayed LVM data_vda /dev/mapper/data_vda. Click on this partition, activate Use partition, activate Format, Use as Root (/) , Filesystem: btrfs.
  • Click on the fourth and largest partition on vdb. A Decrypt This Partition dialog opens, enter your luks password and change the name to crypt_vdb, hit Decrypt. A new line is displayed LVM data_vdb /dev/mapper/data_vdb.
  • If you have other partitions, check their types and use; particularly, deactivate other EFI partitions.

Recheck everything (check the partitions where there is a black checkmark) and hit Erase and Install to write the changes to the disk. Once the installer finishes do NOT Restart Device, but return to your terminal.

Step 4: Post-Installation steps

Mount the btrfs top-level root filesystem

Let’s mount our root partition (the top-level btrfs volume always has root-id 5), but with mount options that optimize performance and durability on SSD or NVME drives:

cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/vda4 crypt_vda
# Enter passphrase for /dev/vda4
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/vdb4 crypt_vdb
# Enter passphrase for /dev/vdb4
mount -o defaults,subvolid=5,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd /dev/mapper/data_vda-root /mnt

I have found that there is some general agreement to use the following mount options, namely:

  • ssd: use SSD specific options for optimal use on SSD and NVME
  • noatime: prevent frequent disk writes by instructing the Linux kernel not to store the last access time of files and folders (noatime also includes nodiratime)
  • space_cache: allows btrfs to store free space cache on the disk to make caching of a block group much quicker
  • commit=120: time interval in which data is written to the filesystem (value of 120 is taken from Manjaro’s minimal iso)
  • compress=zstd: compress allows us to specify the compression algorithm which we want to use. btrfs provides lzo, zstd and zlib compression algorithms. Based on some phoronix test cases, zstd seems to be the better performing candidate.

Create RAID 1 for root filesystem using btrfs balance

Currently btrfs uses only one device /dev/mapper/data_vda-root, so let’s add our other encrypted device /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root:

btrfs filesystem show /mnt
# Label: none  uuid: c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15
# 	Total devices 1 FS bytes used 5.08GiB
# 	devid    1 size 55.49GiB used 8.02GiB path /dev/mapper/data_vda-root

btrfs device add /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root /mnt

btrfs filesystem show /mnt
# Label: none  uuid: c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15
# 	Total devices 2 FS bytes used 5.08GiB
# 	devid    1 size 55.49GiB used 8.02GiB path /dev/mapper/data_vda-root
# 	devid    2 size 55.49GiB used 0.00B path /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root

btrfs filesystem usage /mnt
# Overall:
#     Device size:		 110.98GiB
#     Device allocated:	   8.02GiB
#     Device unallocated:	 102.96GiB
#     Device missing:		     0.00B
#     Used:			   5.27GiB
#     Free (estimated):	 104.07GiB	(min: 52.59GiB)
#     Data ratio:		   1.00
#     Metadata ratio:		   2.00
#     Global reserve:		  14.70MiB	(used: 0.00B)
# 
# Data,single: Size:6.01GiB, Used:4.90GiB (81.52%)
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	   6.01GiB
# 
# Metadata,DUP: Size:1.00GiB, Used:191.64MiB (18.71%)
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	   2.00GiB
# 
# System,DUP: Size:8.00MiB, Used:16.00KiB (0.20%)
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	  16.00MiB
# 
# Unallocated:
# /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	  47.47GiB
# /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root	  55.49GiB

Note, however, that on the second device there is no data yet (see the “single” and “DUP” flags of the above “usage” command). We need to move the data chunks around to have a working RAID1 and btrfs has a balance command just for this case: “A balance passes all data in the filesystem through the allocator again. It is primarly intended to rebalance the data in the filesystem across the devices when a device eis added or removed. A balance will regenerate missing copies for the redundant RAID levels, if a device has failed”.

btrfs balance start -dconvert=raid1 -mconvert=raid1 /mnt
# Done, had to relocate 9 out of 9 chunks

btrfs filesystem usage /mnt
# Overall:
#     Device size:		 110.98GiB
#     Device allocated:	  18.06GiB
#     Device unallocated:	  92.92GiB
#     Device missing:		   0.00B
#     Used:			  10.18GiB
#     Free (estimated):	  48.56GiB	(min: 48.56GiB)
#     Data ratio:		   2.00
#     Metadata ratio:		   2.00
#     Global reserve:		  18.05MiB	(used: 0.00B)
# 
# Data,RAID1: Size:7.00GiB, Used:4.90GiB (69.97%)
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	   7.00GiB
#    /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root	   7.00GiB
# 
# Metadata,RAID1: Size:2.00GiB, Used:194.98MiB (9.52%)
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	   2.00GiB
#    /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root	   2.00GiB
# 
# System,RAID1: Size:32.00MiB, Used:16.00KiB (0.05%)
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	  32.00MiB
#    /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root	  32.00MiB
# 
# Unallocated:
#    /dev/mapper/data_vda-root	  46.46GiB
#    /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root	  46.46GiB

You can monitor the progress in a new terminal using sudo btrfs balance status /mnt. Rarely, one gets an ERROR “out of space” or the output of sudo btrfs filesystem usage /mnt still shows “Data,single” or “Metadata,single” (instead of the “RAID1” tag like above), then you should try to run with different values for “dusage” and “musage”, starting with e.g. 90:

btrfs balance start -dconvert=raid1 -mconvert=raid1 -dusage=95 -musage=95 /mnt
btrfs filesystem usage /mnt

and try to lower values for dusage and musage by 5 (one at a time), until there is the “RAID1” tag everywhere and all chunks are reallocated. Note also that you cannot have a swapfile in a RAID1, so deactivate and delete it, if you have one for some reason.

Create btrfs subvolumes @ and @home

Now we will first create the subvolume @ and move all files and folders from the top-level filesystem into it. Note that as we use the optimized mount options like compression, these will be applied during the moving process:

cd /mnt
btrfs subvolume create /mnt/@
# Create subvolume '/mnt/@'
ls | grep -v @ | xargs mv -t @
ls /mnt
# @
cd /

Now let’s create another subvolume @home in order to mount /home to it. Note that the Pop!_OS installer has not created a user yet, so there is nothing in /home we need to copy over.

btrfs subvolume create /mnt/@home
# Create subvolume '/mnt/@home'
btrfs subvolume list /mnt
# ID 269 gen 118 top level 5 path @
# ID 270 gen 118 top level 5 path @home

Now we need to adapt the mount options in fstab with a text editor, e.g.:

nano /mnt/@/etc/fstab

or use these sed and echo commands:

sed -i '/cryptswap/d' /mnt/@/etc/fstab #temporarily remove the cryptswap line
sed -i 's/defaults/defaults,subvol=@,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd/' /mnt/@/etc/fstab
echo "UUID=$(blkid -s UUID -o value /dev/mapper/data_vda-root)   /home   btrfs   defaults,subvol=@home,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd   0 0" >> /mnt/@/etc/fstab
echo "/dev/mapper/cryptswap  none  swap  defaults  0  0" >> /mnt/@/etc/fstab #add tje cryptswap file back

Either way your fstab should look like this:

cat /mnt/@/etc/fstab
# PARTUUID=7109bb96-1c90-48bf-b290-a475996aa97b  /boot/efi  vfat  umask=0077  0  0
# PARTUUID=6316f309-81a6-476b-b804-ae315d5e5ae3  /recovery  vfat  umask=0077  0  0
# UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15  /  btrfs  defaults,subvol=@,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd  0  0
# UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15   /home   btrfs   defaults,subvol=@home,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd   0 0
# /dev/mapper/cryptswap  none  swap  defaults  0  0

Note that the mount options for @ and @home are the same.

Create a chroot environment and enter your system

Now, let’s create a chroot environment, which enables you to work directly inside your newly installed OS, without actually rebooting. For this, unmount the top-level root filesystem from /mnt and remount the subvolume @ which we created for / to /mnt:

cd /
umount -l /mnt
mount -o defaults,subvol=@,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd /dev/mapper/data_vda-root /mnt
ls /mnt
# bin   dev  home           lib    lib64   media  opt   recovery  run   srv  tmp  var
# boot  etc  installer.log  lib32  libx32  mnt    proc  root      sbin  sys  usr

Then the following commands put us into our system using chroot:

for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/
sudo chroot /mnt

Cool, you are now inside your system and we can check whether our fstab mounts everything correctly:

mount -av
# /boot/efi                : successfully mounted
# /recovery                : successfully mounted
# /                        : ignored
# /home                    : successfully mounted
# none                     : ignored

Looks good! Now we need to adapt some other stuff.

Adjust configuration of crypttab, systemd bootloader and kernelstub

We need to adjust settings for the crypttab and the configuration files of the systemd bootloader and the kernelstub. Also we need to make sure these settings are not overwritten, if we e.g. install new kernels or update modules. Let’s do this in our chroot environment.

  1. Add our second RAID1 drive to the crypttab:
echo "crypt_vdb UUID=$(blkid -s UUID -o value /dev/vdb4) none luks" >> /etc/crypttab
cat /etc/crypttab
# cryptswap UUID=03019356-3691-4002-a013-be15f291cde2 /dev/urandom swap,offset=1024,cipher=aes-xts-plain64,size=512
# crypt_vda UUID=9fc916b2-bdd8-4fbd-b557-4c4366f8cd63 none luks
# crypt_vdb UUID=93fc3643-a687-4a1c-9859-409b090448b9 none luks
  1. Add a timeout to the systemd boot menu in order to easily access the recovery partition:
echo "timeout 2" >> /boot/efi/loader/loader.conf
cat /boot/efi/loader/loader.conf 
# default Pop_OS-current
# timeout 2
  1. Add rootflags=subvol=@ to last line of Pop_OS_current.conf either using a text editor or the following command
sed -i 's/splash/splash rootflags=subvol=@/' /boot/efi/loader/entries/Pop_OS-current.conf
cat /boot/efi/loader/entries/Pop_OS-current.conf
# title Pop!_OS
# linux /EFI/Pop_OS-c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15/vmlinuz.efi
# initrd /EFI/Pop_OS-c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15/initrd.img
# options root=UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15 ro quiet loglevel=0 systemd.show_status=false splash rootflags=subvol=@
  1. Lastly, we need to add rootflags=subvol=@ to the "user" kernel options of the kernelstub configuration file:
nano /etc/kernelstub/configuration
# add rootflags=subvol=@ to "user" kernel options
# don't forget the comma after "splash"

cat /etc/kernelstub/configuration
# {
# "default": {
#     "kernel_options": [
#       "quiet",
#       "splash"
#     ],
#     "esp_path": "/boot/efi",
#     "setup_loader": false,
#     "manage_mode": false,
#     "force_update": false,
#     "live_mode": false,
#     "config_rev": 3
#   },
#   "user": {
#     "kernel_options": [
#       "quiet",
#       "loglevel=0",
#       "systemd.show_status=false",
#       "splash",
#       "rootflags=subvol=@"
#     ],
#     "esp_path": "/boot/efi",
#     "setup_loader": true,
#     "manage_mode": true,
#     "force_update": false,
#     "live_mode": false,
#     "config_rev": 3
#   }
# }
  1. Install btrfs-progs
apt install btrfs-progs
# Reading package lists... Done
# Building dependency tree       
# Reading state information... Done
# The following additional packages will be installed:
#   liblzo2-2
# Suggested packages:
#   duperemove
# The following NEW packages will be installed:
#   btrfs-progs liblzo2-2
# 0 upgraded, 2 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
# Need to get 705 kB of archives.
# After this operation, 4292 kB of additional disk space will be used.
# Do you want to continue? [Y/n] Y
# Get:1 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu focal/main amd64 liblzo2-2 amd64 2.10-2 [50.8 kB]
# Get:2 http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu focal/main amd64 btrfs-progs amd64 5.4.1-2 [654 kB]
# Fetched 705 kB in 1s (693 kB/s)  
# Selecting previously unselected package liblzo2-2:amd64.
# (Reading database ... 208003 files and directories currently installed.)
# Preparing to unpack .../liblzo2-2_2.10-2_amd64.deb ...
# Unpacking liblzo2-2:amd64 (2.10-2) ...
# Selecting previously unselected package btrfs-progs.
# Preparing to unpack .../btrfs-progs_5.4.1-2_amd64.deb ...
# Unpacking btrfs-progs (5.4.1-2) ...
# Setting up liblzo2-2:amd64 (2.10-2) ...
# Setting up btrfs-progs (5.4.1-2) ...
# update-initramfs: deferring update (trigger activated)
# Processing triggers for man-db (2.9.1-1) ...
# Processing triggers for initramfs-tools (0.136ubuntu6) ...
# update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-5.4.0-7624-generic
# kernelstub.Config    : INFO     Looking for configuration...
# kernelstub           : INFO     System information: 
# 
#     OS:..................Pop!_OS 20.04
#     Root partition:....../dev/dm-1
#     Root FS UUID:........c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15
#     ESP Path:............/boot/efi
#     ESP Partition:......./dev/vda1
#     ESP Partition #:.....1
#     NVRAM entry #:.......-1
#     Boot Variable #:.....0000
#     Kernel Boot Options:.quiet loglevel=0 systemd.show_status=false splash rootflags=subvol=@
#     Kernel Image Path:.../boot/vmlinuz-5.4.0-7624-generic
#     Initrd Image Path:.../boot/initrd.img-5.4.0-7624-generic
#     Force-overwrite:.....False
# 
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Copying Kernel into ESP
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Copying initrd.img into ESP
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Setting up loader.conf configuration
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Making entry file for Pop!_OS
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Backing up old kernel
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     No old kernel found, skipping

Note that this has also updated the initramfs, but to just be sure, run it again:

update-initramfs -c -k all

Step 5: Reboot, some checks, and update system

Now, it is time to exit the chroot - cross your fingers - and reboot the system:

exit
# exit
reboot now

If all went well you should see a passphrase prompt for crypt_vda and one for crypt_vdb, where you enter the corresponding luks passphrases and your system boots.

Now let’s click through the welcome screen and create a user account. Let’s open up a terminal to see whether everything is set up correctly:

sudo cat /etc/crypttab
# cryptswap UUID=03019356-3691-4002-a013-be15f291cde2 /dev/urandom swap,offset=1024,cipher=aes-xts-plain64,size=512
# crypt_vda UUID=9fc916b2-bdd8-4fbd-b557-4c4366f8cd63 none luks
# crypt_vdb UUID=93fc3643-a687-4a1c-9859-409b090448b9 none luks

sudo cat /etc/fstab
# PARTUUID=7109bb96-1c90-48bf-b290-a475996aa97b  /boot/efi  vfat  umask=0077  0  0
# PARTUUID=6316f309-81a6-476b-b804-ae315d5e5ae3  /recovery  vfat  umask=0077  0  0
# UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15  /  btrfs  defaults,subvol=@,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd  0  0
# UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15   /home   btrfs   defaults,subvol=@home,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd   0 0
# /dev/mapper/cryptswap  none  swap  defaults  0  0

sudo mount -av
# /boot/efi                : already mounted
# /recovery                : already mounted
# /                        : ignored
# /home                    : already mounted
# none                     : ignored

sudo mount -v | grep data_vd
# /dev/mapper/data_vda-root on / type btrfs (rw,noatime,compress=zstd:3,ssd,space_cache,commit=120,subvolid=269,subvol=/@)
# /dev/mapper/data_vda-root on /home type btrfs (rw,noatime,compress=zstd:3,ssd,space_cache,commit=120,subvolid=270,subvol=/@home)

sudo swapon
# NAME      TYPE      SIZE USED PRIO
# /dev/dm-4 partition   4G   0B   -2

sudo btrfs filesystem show /
# Label: none  uuid: c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15
# 	Total devices 2 FS bytes used 4.45GiB
# 	devid    1 size 55.49GiB used 7.03GiB path /dev/mapper/data_vda-root
#       devid    2 size 55.49GiB used 7.03GiB path /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root

sudo btrfs subvolume list /
# ID 269 gen 538 top level 5 path @
# ID 270 gen 528 top level 5 path @home

If all look’s good, let’s update and upgrade the system:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt autoclean

Optionally, if you installed on a SSD and NVME, enable fstrim.timer as we did not add discard to the crypttab. This is due to the fact that Btrfs Async Discard Support Looks To Be Ready For Linux 5.6 is quite new, but 20.04 still runs kernel 5.4, it is better to enable the fstrim.timer systemd service:

sudo systemctl enable fstrim.timer

Now reboot:

sudo reboot now

Step 6: Create degraded boot entry

  1. Let’s go into root mode and export the UUID and PARTUUID of our recovery partitions into environmental variables for easy use later on:
sudo -i
export UUID_vda2=$(blkid -s UUID -o value /dev/vda2)
export PARTUUID_vda2=$(blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/vda2)
export UUID_vdb2=$(blkid -s UUID -o value /dev/vdb2)
export PARTUUID_vdb2=$(blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/vdb2)
export UUID_root=$(blkid -s UUID -o value /dev/mapper/data_vda-root)

Let’s create a boot entry in case the RAID1 is broken, i.e. use degraded mode as rootflag:

cat <<EOF > /boot/efi/loader/entries/Pop_OS-degraded.conf
title Pop!_OS (degraded)
linux /EFI/Pop_OS-${UUID_root}/vmlinuz.efi
initrd /EFI/Pop_OS-${UUID_root}/initrd.img
options root=UUID=${UUID_root} ro quiet loglevel=0 systemd.show_status=false splash rootflags=subvol=@,degraded
EOF

cat /boot/efi/loader/entries/Pop_OS-degraded.conf
# title Pop!_OS (degraded)
# linux /EFI/Pop_OS-c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15/vmlinuz.efi
# initrd /EFI/Pop_OS-c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15/initrd.img
# options root=UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15 ro quiet loglevel=0 systemd.show_status=false splash rootflags=subvol=@,degraded

Note that /dev/mapper/data_vda-root and /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root have the same UUID.

Step 7: Make duplicate of recovery partition and create separate boot entries

Now let’s clone the recovery partition vda2 to vdb2:

dd if=/dev/vda2 of=/dev/vdb2 bs=1024 status=progress
# 4248138752 bytes (4.2 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 66 s, 64.4 MB/s 
# 4194303+1 records in
# 4194303+1 records out
# 4294966784 bytes (4.3 GB, 4.0 GiB) copied, 71.2853 s, 60.3 MB/s

and create two boot entries called “Pop!_OS recovery (vda)” and “Pop!_OS recovery (vdb)":

cat <<EOF > /boot/efi/loader/entries/Recovery-vda.conf
title Pop!_OS recovery (vda)
linux /EFI/Recovery-${UUID_vda2}/vmlinuz.efi
initrd /EFI/Recovery-${UUID_vda2}/initrd.gz
options  boot=casper hostname=recovery userfullname=Recovery username=recovery live-media-path=/casper-${UUID_vda2} live-media=/dev/disk/by-partuuid/${PARTUUID_vda2} noprompt 
EOF
cat /boot/efi/loader/entries/Recovery-vda.conf 
# title Pop!_OS recovery (vda)
# linux /EFI/Recovery-C419-37C6/vmlinuz.efi
# initrd /EFI/Recovery-C419-37C6/initrd.gz
# options  boot=casper hostname=recovery userfullname=Recovery username=recovery live-media-path=/casper-C419-37C6 live-media=/dev/disk/by-partuuid/6316f309-81a6-476b-b804-ae315d5e5ae3 noprompt 

cat <<EOF > /boot/efi/loader/entries/Recovery-vdb.conf
title Pop!_OS recovery (vdb)
linux /EFI/Recovery-${UUID_vdb2}/vmlinuz.efi
initrd /EFI/Recovery-${UUID_vdb2}/initrd.gz
options  boot=casper hostname=recovery userfullname=Recovery username=recovery live-media-path=/casper-${UUID_vdb2} live-media=/dev/disk/by-partuuid/${PARTUUID_vdb2} noprompt 
EOF
cat /boot/efi/loader/entries/Recovery-vdb.conf
# title Pop!_OS recovery (vdb)
# linux /EFI/Recovery-C419-37C6/vmlinuz.efi
# initrd /EFI/Recovery-C419-37C6/initrd.gz
# options  boot=casper hostname=recovery userfullname=Recovery username=recovery live-media-path=/casper-C419-37C6 live-media=/dev/disk/by-partuuid/3560ffd1-39f0-44da-9c3b-a5d98ea43f08 noprompt

Now, you should update the initramfs and reboot.

update-initramfs -c -k all
reboot now

Don’t boot into your normal system but check whether both recovery partitions work. If that is the case, boot back into your system and continue with the next step.

Step 8: Make duplicate of EFI

Open an interactive sudo terminal, duplicate the efi partition to the second disk, unmount the current efi partition and mount the one from the second disk:

sudo -i
umount /boot/efi
dd if=/dev/vda1 of=/dev/vdb1 bs=1024 status=progress
# 459621376 bytes (460 MB, 438 MiB) copied, 6 s, 76.6 MB/s
# 509951+1 records in
# 509951+1 records out
# 522190336 bytes (522 MB, 498 MiB) copied, 9.58114 s, 54.5 MB/s
mount /dev/vdb1 /boot/efi

Reinstall the systemd boot manager to vdb1:

apt install --reinstall linux-generic linux-headers-generic
# Reading package lists... Done
# Building dependency tree       
# Reading state information... Done
# 0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 2 reinstalled, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
# Need to get 503 kB of archives.
# After this operation, 0 B of additional disk space will be used.
# Get:1 http://ppa.launchpad.net/system76/pop/ubuntu focal/main amd64 linux-generic amd64 5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31 [252 kB]
# Get:2 http://ppa.launchpad.net/system76/pop/ubuntu focal/main amd64 linux-headers-generic amd64 5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31 [252 kB]
# Fetched 503 kB in 0s (1,291 kB/s)          
# (Reading database ... 172366 files and directories currently installed.)
# Preparing to unpack .../linux-generic_5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31_amd64.deb ...
# Unpacking linux-generic (5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31) over (5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31) ...
# Preparing to unpack .../linux-headers-generic_5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31_amd64.deb ...
# Unpacking linux-headers-generic (5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31) over (5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31) ...
# Setting up linux-headers-generic (5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31) ...
# Setting up linux-generic (5.4.0-7624.28~1586790353~20.04~9e10e31) ...

update-initramfs -c -k all
# update-initramfs: Generating /boot/initrd.img-5.4.0-7624-generic
# cryptsetup: WARNING: Resume target cryptswap uses a key file
# kernelstub.Config    : INFO     Looking for configuration...
# kernelstub           : INFO     System information: 
# 
#     OS:..................Pop!_OS 20.04
#     Root partition:....../dev/dm-1
#     Root FS UUID:........c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15
#     ESP Path:............/boot/efi
#     ESP Partition:......./dev/vda1
#     ESP Partition #:.....1
#     NVRAM entry #:.......-1
#     Boot Variable #:.....0000
#     Kernel Boot Options:.quiet loglevel=0 systemd.show_status=false splash rootflags=subvol=@
#     Kernel Image Path:.../boot/vmlinuz-5.4.0-7624-generic
#     Initrd Image Path:.../boot/initrd.img-5.4.0-7624-generic
#     Force-overwrite:.....False
# 
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Copying Kernel into ESP
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Copying initrd.img into ESP
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Setting up loader.conf configuration
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Making entry file for Pop!_OS
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     Backing up old kernel
# kernelstub.Installer : INFO     No old kernel found, skipping

bootctl --path=/boot/efi install

Now, you should reboot and check whether both EFI partitions work.

Step 9: Install Timeshift and timeshift-autosnap-apt

Open a terminal and install some dependencies:

sudo apt install -y git make

Install Timeshift and configure it directly via the GUI:

sudo apt install -y timeshift
sudo timeshift-gtk
  • Select “BTRFS” as the “Snapshot Type”; continue with “Next”
  • Choose your BTRFS system partition as “Snapshot Location”; continue with “Next” (even if timeshift does not see a btrfs system in the GUI it will still work, so continue (I already filed a bug report with timeshift))
  • “Select Snapshot Levels” (type and number of snapshots that will be automatically created and managed/deleted by Timeshift), my recommendations:
    • Activate “Monthly” and set it to 1
    • Activate “Weekly” and set it to 3
    • Activate “Daily” and set it to 5
    • Deactivate “Hourly”
    • Activate “Boot” and set it to 3
    • Activate “Stop cron emails for scheduled tasks”
    • continue with “Next”
    • I also include the @home subvolume (which is not selected by default). Note that when you restore a snapshot Timeshift you get the choise whether you want to restore it as well (which in most cases you don’t want to).
    • Click “Finish”
  • “Create” a manual first snapshot & exit Timeshift

Timeshift will now check every hour if snapshots (“hourly”, “daily”, “weekly”, “monthly”, “boot”) need to be created or deleted. Note that “boot” snapshots will not be created directly but about 10 minutes after a system startup.

Timeshift puts all snapshots into /run/timeshift/backup. Conveniently, the real root (subvolid 5) of your BTRFS partition is also mounted here, so it is easy to view, create, delete and move around snapshots manually.

ls /run/timeshift/backup
# @  @home  @swap  timeshift-btrfs

Note that /run/timeshift/backup/@ contains your / folder, /run/timeshift/backup/@home contains your /home folder, /run/timeshift/backup/@swap contains your /swap folder.

Now let’s install timeshift-autosnap-apt from GitHub

git clone https://github.com/wmutschl/timeshift-autosnap-apt.git /home/$USER/timeshift-autosnap-apt
cd /home/$USER/timeshift-autosnap-apt
sudo make install

After this, optionally, make changes to the configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/timeshift-autosnap-apt.conf

For example, as we don’t have a dedicated /boot partition, we can set snapshotBoot=false in the timeshift-autosnap-apt-conf file to not rsync the /boot directory to /boot.backup. Note that the EFI partition is still rsynced into your snapshot to /boot.backup/efi.

Check if everything is working:

sudo timeshift-autosnap-apt
# Rsyncing /boot/efi into the filesystem before the call to timeshift.
# Using system disk as snapshot device for creating snapshots in BTRFS mode
# 
# /dev/dm-0 is mounted at: /run/timeshift/backup, options: rw,relatime,compress=zstd:3,ssd,space_cache,commit=120,subvolid=5,subvol=/
# 
# Creating new backup...(BTRFS)
# Saving to device: /dev/dm-0, mounted at path: /run/timeshift/backup
# Created directory: /run/timeshift/backup/timeshift-btrfs/snapshots/2020-05-06_23-43-29
# Created subvolume snapshot: /run/timeshift/backup/timeshift-btrfs/snapshots/2020-05-06_23-43-29/@
# Created subvolume snapshot: /run/timeshift/backup/timeshift-btrfs/snapshots/2020-05-06_23-43-29/@home
# Created control file: /run/timeshift/backup/timeshift-btrfs/snapshots/2020-05-06_23-43-29/info.json
# BTRFS Snapshot saved successfully (0s)
# Tagged snapshot '2020-05-06_23-43-29': ondemand

Now, if you run sudo apt install|remove|upgrade|dist-upgrade, timeshift-autosnap-apt will create a snapshot of your system with Timeshift. Note that if you use this you always have a backup of your efi parition inside any btrfs snapshot in the folder /boot.backup/efi/.

Step 10 (WIP): Keep efi partitions in sync

To Do list:

  • mount both efi partitions via fstab
  • add dpkg hook similar to timeshift-autosnap-apt
  • alternatively show how to reinstall EFI partition

Note that if you use timeshift-autosnap-apt you always have a backup of your efi parition inside any btrfs snapshot in the folder /boot.backup/efi/.

Emergency scenario: RAID1 is broken

[WIP] efi is broken

see Repair bootloader in the References….

vda is broken

Let’s assume vda is broken (to this end I shutdown the virtual machine and add an empty vda). Now we need to open the “EFI BOOT MANAGER IN BIOS” and select to boot from the EFI partition on vda. The system will not boot, but we have our recovery system on vdb, so let’s boot into it. Then, we need to chroot in degraded mode into the system, change PARTUUID in the fstab, and remove the bad drive from the crypttab:

sudo -i
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/vdb4 crypt_vdb
mount -o subvol=@,degraded /dev/mapper/data_vdb-root /mnt
mount /dev/vdb1 /mnt/boot/efi
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/
sudo chroot /mnt

# get PARTUUID
echo $(blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/vdb1)
# df1701f7-6e8b-4db1-8192-3a7931e3a905
echo $(blkid -s PARTUUID -o value /dev/vdb2)
# 3560ffd1-39f0-44da-9c3b-a5d98ea43f08
nano /etc/fstab
# USE df1701f7-6e8b-4db1-8192-3a7931e3a905 FOR /boot/efi
# USE 3560ffd1-39f0-44da-9c3b-a5d98ea43f08 FOR /recovery
cat /etc/fstab
# PARTUUID=df1701f7-6e8b-4db1-8192-3a7931e3a905  /boot/efi  vfat  umask=0077  0  0
# PARTUUID=3560ffd1-39f0-44da-9c3b-a5d98ea43f08  /recovery  vfat  umask=0077  0  0
# UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15  /  btrfs  defaults,subvol=@,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd  0  0
# UUID=c277ed84-e32f-4204-a211-1d80596e6e15   /home   btrfs   defaults,subvol=@home,ssd,noatime,space_cache,commit=120,compress=zstd   0 0
# /dev/mapper/cryptswap  none  swap  defaults  0  0

mkswap /dev/vdb3
# Setting up swapspace version 1, size = 4 GiB (4294963200 bytes)
# no label, UUID=a6a9ec65-a225-4185-8edd-f9dd3c243a2a

nano /etc/crypttab
# UNCOMMENT THE NOT WORKING DEVICE AND CHANGE UUID of cryptswap
cat /etc/crypttab
# cryptswap UUID=a6a9ec65-a225-4185-8edd-f9dd3c243a2a /dev/urandom swap,offset=1024,cipher=aes-xts-plain64,size=512
# #crypt_vda UUID=9fc916b2-bdd8-4fbd-b557-4c4366f8cd63 none luks
# crypt_vdb UUID=93fc3643-a687-4a1c-9859-409b090448b9 none luks

update-initramfs -c -k all

exit
reboot now

Choose “POP!_OS (degraded)” in the boot menu and you can boot into your system and repair it!

vdb is broken

Let’s assume vdb is broken (to this end I shutdown the virtual machine and added a empty vdb). Now we need to open the “EFI BOOT MANAGER IN BIOS” and select to boot from the EFI partition on vdb. The system will not boot, but we have our recovery system on vda, so let’s boot into it. Then, we need to chroot in degraded mode into the system and remove the bad drive from the crypttab:

sudo -i
cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/vda4 crypt_vda
mount -o subvol=@,degraded /dev/mapper/data_vda-root /mnt
mount /dev/vda1 /mnt/boot/efi
for i in /dev /dev/pts /proc /sys /run; do sudo mount -B $i /mnt$i; done
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/
sudo chroot /mnt

# NO NEED TO CHANGE THE FSTAB

nano /etc/crypttab
# UNCOMMENT THE NOT WORKING DEVICE
cat /etc/crypttab
# cryptswap UUID=03019356-3691-4002-a013-be15f291cde2 /dev/urandom swap,offset=1024,cipher=aes-xts-plain64,size=512
# crypt_vda UUID=9fc916b2-bdd8-4fbd-b557-4c4366f8cd63 none luks
# #crypt_vdb UUID=93fc3643-a687-4a1c-9859-409b090448b9 none luks

update-initramfs -c -k all

exit
reboot now

Choose POP!_OS (degraded) in the boot menu and you can boot into your system and repair it!

FINISHED! CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS FOR STICKING THROUGH! If you ever need to rollback your system, checkout my Recovery and system rollback with Timeshift.

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