How To Configure An iSCSI Target And Initiator In Linux

With an iSCSI target we can provide access to disk storage on a server over the network to a client iSCSI initiator. The iSCSI initiator will then be able to use the storage from the iSCSI target server as if it were a local disk.

Here we cover how you can set up both an iSCSI target and an iSCSI initiator in Linux and connect them together.

Example Environment

In this example we will be working with two different Linux servers, both of which are running CentOS 7.

  • Client: 192.168.1.100: This Linux system acts as the iSCSI initiator, it will connect to the iSCSI target on the server over the network.
  • Server: 192.168.1.200: This Linux system acts as the iSCSI target server, it provides the disk space that will be accessible over the network to the client.

Configure iSCSI Target

First we’ll start by configuring the iSCSI target on our server, which will be offering its disk space over the network to our client which is the iSCSI initiator.

We want to install the ‘targetcli’ package on the server, this provides a shell for viewing and modifying the target configuration so that we can export local storage resources such as files, volumes or RAM disks to external systems. The layout is tree based and navigation works in a similar way to moving through the file system with commands such as ‘cd’ and ‘ls’ available.

yum install targetcli -y

Once installed we want to start the target service, and enable it so that it automatically starts up on system boot.

systemctl start target
systemctl enable target

For further information on basic service management with systemctl, see our guide here.

Now we can run the targetcli command, followed by ls from within the targetcli prompt to get an idea of what is available.

[[email protected] ~]# targetcli
Warning: Could not load preferences file /root/.targetcli/prefs.bin.
targetcli shell version 2.1.fb41
Copyright 2011-2013 by Datera, Inc and others.
For help on commands, type 'help'.

/> ls
o- / .................................... [...]
  o- backstores ......................... [...]
  | o- block ............. [Storage Objects: 0]
  | o- fileio ............ [Storage Objects: 0]
  | o- pscsi ............. [Storage Objects: 0]
  | o- ramdisk ........... [Storage Objects: 0]
  o- iscsi ....................... [Targets: 0]
  o- loopback .................... [Targets: 0]

The targetcli command offers tab completion, so if you get stuck just press tab a couple of times to view available options. These will change depending on what level of the hierarchy you are in, and just like the file system you can always go up with ‘cd ..’.

Creating a Backstore

The first thing listed are the backstores. Backstores provide different ways of storing the data locally that will be exported to an external system. The available options are block, fileio, pscsi and ramdisk. In our example we’ll be demonstrating both block and fileio options as these are quite common.

A block backstore is simply a Linux block device such as a hard drive like /dev/sdc.

A fileio backstore is a file on the file system that has been created with a predefined size, generally the performance of a single file is not as good as a block backstore.

To create a backstore, type the backstores command followed by the type that you want to create, such as fileio. If you get stuck put the tab completion to work. Here we are creating the testfile fileio backstore, this will make a 500MB /tmp/fileio file on disk, where write_back=false simply says to not use any caching which will decrease performance but will reduce possible data loss – a better option in a production environment.

/> backstores/fileio create testfile /tmp/fileio 500M write_back=false
Created fileio testfile with size 524288000

If you’re using a block device rather than a file, the command would look like this. In this example we are using the disk /dev/sdc as our backstore.

/> backstores/block create name=block dev=/dev/sdc
Created block storage object block using /dev/sdc.

Once complete if you issue the ‘ls’ command again and the backstores should be listed.

/> ls
o- / ...................................................... [...]
  o- backstores ........................................... [...]
  | o- block ............................... [Storage Objects: 1]
  | | o- block ....... [/dev/sdc (1.0GiB) write-thru deactivated]
  | o- fileio .............................. [Storage Objects: 1]
  | | o- testfile .. [/tmp/fileio (500.0MiB) write-thru deactivated]
  | o- pscsi ............................... [Storage Objects: 0]
  | o- ramdisk ............................. [Storage Objects: 0]
  o- iscsi ......................................... [Targets: 0]
  o- loopback ...................................... [Targets: 0]

Create the iSCSI Target and Portal

Next we want to create the actual iSCSI target itself, start by moving into the iSCSI path as shown below. You don’t need to prepend the ‘cd’ command to access it, however that works as well.

/> iscsi/

Once in here, we can create the iSCSI target with a specific IQN (iqn.2016-01.com.example) and iSCSI target name (target).

/iscsi> create iqn.2016-01.com.example:target
Created target iqn.2016-01.com.example:target.
Created TPG 1.
Global pref auto_add_default_portal=true
Created default portal listening on all IPs (0.0.0.0), port 3260.

Alternatively you can just enter ‘create’ by itself and it will automatically use a default IQN and target name, you don’t have to manually pick these however the option is nice.

Now if we run ‘ls’ again we should see our iSCSI target listed.

/iscsi> ls
o- iscsi ............................. [Targets: 1]
  o- iqn.2016-01.com.example:target ..... [TPGs: 1]
    o- tpg1 ................ [no-gen-acls, no-auth]
      o- acls ........................... [ACLs: 0]
      o- luns ........................... [LUNs: 0]
      o- portals ..................... [Portals: 1]
        o- 0.0.0.0:3260 ...................... [OK]

As we can see here, a portal has already been created. As of RHEL 7.1 once a target has been set, a default portal will also be configured which will listen on TCP port 3260 on 0.0.0.0.

Create a LUN

Next we want to make a LUN with our previously defined backstore.

First move into the target portal group (TPG) that was just created.

/iscsi> iqn.2016-01.com.example:target/tpg1/

After this we can create the LUN, specifying any backstore that we have previously created. By default a LUN created in this way will have read-write permissions applied. Here we create a LUN for both our fileio and block backstores.

/iscsi/iqn.20...e:target/tpg1> luns/ create /backstores/fileio/testfile
Created LUN 0.

/iscsi/iqn.20...e:target/tpg1> luns/ create /backstores/block/block
Created LUN 1.

Now if we execute ‘ls’ we should see both of our LUNs present.

/iscsi/iqn.20...e:target/tpg1> ls
o- tpg1 .................... [no-gen-acls, no-auth]
  o- acls ............................... [ACLs: 0]
  o- luns ............................... [LUNs: 2]
  | o- lun0 ....... [fileio/testfile (/tmp/fileio)]
  | o- lun1 .............. [block/block (/dev/sdc)]
  o- portals ......................... [Portals: 1]
    o- 0.0.0.0:3260 .......................... [OK]

Create an ACL

Now we need to configure an access control list (ACL) to define the initiators that are actually allowed to connect to the iSCSI target.

To do this, go to the client system that will be our iSCSI initiator and get the contents of the /etc/iscsi/initiatorname.iscsi file – you can edit this file if you want, otherwise the default is fine. This will work as long as what we configure in our ACL on the iSCSI target server is the same as the contents of this file on the iSCSI initiator client.

[[email protected] ~]# cat /etc/iscsi/initiatorname.iscsi
InitiatorName=iqn.1994-05.com.redhat:5bf95f78165

Now that we have the name of our initiator from the client system, we enter the ACL section on the server within the TPG.

/iscsi/iqn.20...e:target/tpg1> acls/

Now create the ACL by specifying the initiator name found on the client system.

/iscsi/iqn.20...get/tpg1/acls> create iqn.1994-05.com.redhat:5bf95f78165
Created Node ACL for iqn.1994-05.com.redhat:5bf95f78165
Created mapped LUN 1.
Created mapped LUN 0.

Note that all LUNs that have been created within this iSCSI target will automatically be mapped to the ACL.

/iscsi/iqn.20...get/tpg1/acls> ls
o- acls ........................................ [ACLs: 1]
  o- iqn.1994-05.com.redhat:5bf95f78165 ..[Mapped LUNs: 2]
    o- mapped_lun0 .............. [lun0 fileio/file1 (rw)]
    o- mapped_lun1 ............... [lun1 block/block (rw)]

That’s all of the configuration required, we can use ‘cd’ to go up to the root of the iSCSI target and then use ‘ls’ to view all of the configuration.

/iscsi/iqn.20...get/tpg1/acls> cd ../..

/iscsi/iqn.20...xample:target> ls
o- iqn.2016-01.com.example:target .......................... [TPGs: 1]
  o- tpg1 ..................................... [no-gen-acls, no-auth]
    o- acls ................................................ [ACLs: 1]
    | o- iqn.1994-05.com.redhat:5bf95f78165 ......... [Mapped LUNs: 2]
    |   o- mapped_lun0 ................... [lun0 fileio/testfile (rw)]
    |   o- mapped_lun1 ....................... [lun1 block/block (rw)]
    o- luns ................................................ [LUNs: 2]
    | o- lun0 ........................ [fileio/testfile (/tmp/fileio)]
    | o- lun1 ............................... [block/block (/dev/sdc)]
    o- portals .......................................... [Portals: 1]
      o- 0.0.0.0:3260 ........................................... [OK]

Saving Changes

To save the configuration, simply exit and this will write everything to the /etc/target/saveconfig.json file as shown below.

/iscsi/iqn.20...xample:target> exit
Global pref auto_save_on_exit=true
Last 10 configs saved in /etc/target/backup.
Configuration saved to /etc/target/saveconfig.json

iSCSI Firewall Rules

Once complete the target server should now be listening on TCP port 3260 as shown below.

[[email protected] ~]# netstat -antup | grep 3260
tcp        0      0 0.0.0.0:3260            0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      -

Now we need to allow traffic through firewalld on this port.

[[email protected] ~]# firewall-cmd --permanent --add-port=3260/tcp
success
[[email protected] ~]# firewall-cmd --reload
success

Our iSCSI target is now ready to accept connections from the iSCSI initiator on our client system (iqn.1994-05.com.redhat:5bf95f78165).

Configure iSCSI Initiator

Now that the iSCSI target has been configured and setup, we can proceed with configuring the iSCSI initiator on the client side to connect to the iSCSI target.

The initiator will need the iscsi-initiator-utils package to be installed prior to connecting, install it first as shown below.

yum install iscsi-initiator-utils -y

Next be sure to start and enable both iscsid and iscsi. Note that you will likely need to restart these if you edit the IQN of the initiator later.

systemctl enable iscsid iscsi
systemctl start iscsid iscsi

We will be connecting with the initiator name specified in the /etc/iscsi/initiatorname.iscsi file, if you modify this you will also need to update the ACL on the iSCSI target as it needs to be the same on both sides.

Next we can perform a discovery against the IP address of the target server to see what iSCSI targets are on offer. In this instance 192.168.1.200 is our iSCSI target server.

[[email protected] ~]# iscsiadm --mode discovery --type sendtargets --portal 192.168.1.200
192.168.1.200:3260,1 iqn.2016-01.com.example:target

From the client system we can see that the available target, next we want to log into it in order to use it.

[[email protected] ~]# iscsiadm -m node -T iqn.2016-01.com.example:target -l
Logging in to [iface: default, target: iqn.2016-01.com.example:target, portal: 192.168.1.200,3260] (multiple)
Login to [iface: default, target: iqn.2016-01.com.example:target, portal: 192.168.1.200,3260] successful.

From the client we can view all active iSCSI sessions as shown below.

[[email protected] mnt]# iscsiadm -m session -P 0
tcp: [1] 192.168.1.200:3260,1 iqn.2016-01.com.example:target (non-flash)

We can also change -P 0 to 1,2 or 3 for increasing levels of information.

The fileio and block disks shared from the iSCSI target are now available to the iSCSI initiator, as shown below. In this case local disk /dev/sdb is our fileio file over on the target server in /tmp/fileio, while local disk /dev/sdc is the block disk /dev/sdc over on the target server.

[[email protected] ~]# lsblk --scsi
NAME HCTL       TYPE VENDOR   MODEL             REV  TRAN
sda  2:0:0:0    disk VMware,  VMware Virtual S 1.0   spi
sdb  3:0:0:0    disk LIO-ORG  testfile         4.0   iscsi
sdc  3:0:0:1    disk LIO-ORG  block            4.0   iscsi
sr0  1:0:0:0    rom  NECVMWar VMware IDE CDR10 1.00  ata

Both of these disks are now usable as if they were normal locally attached disks to the client system.

[[email protected] ~]# fdisk -l
Disk /dev/sdb: 524 MB, 524288000 bytes, 409600 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 8388608 bytes

Disk /dev/sdc: 1073 MB, 1073741824 bytes, 2097152 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 4194304 bytes

We can partition or put a file system onto them as if they were local disks.

[[email protected] ~]# mkfs.xfs /dev/sdb
meta-data=/dev/sdb               isize=256    agcount=4, agsize=12800 blks
         =                       sectsz=512   attr=2, projid32bit=1
         =                       crc=0        finobt=0
data     =                       bsize=4096   blocks=51200, imaxpct=25
         =                       sunit=0      swidth=0 blks
naming   =version 2              bsize=4096   ascii-ci=0 ftype=0
log      =internal log           bsize=4096   blocks=853, version=2
         =                       sectsz=512   sunit=0 blks, lazy-count=1
realtime =none                   extsz=4096   blocks=0, rtextents=0

[[email protected] ~]# mkfs.xfs /dev/sdc
...

From there we can mount them anywhere as required, here we mount to /mnt for testing and see that it’s available for use.

[[email protected] ~]# mount /dev/sdb /mnt

[[email protected] ~]# mkdir /mnt2

[[email protected] ~]# mount /dev/sdc /mnt2

[[email protected] ~]# df -h | grep mnt
Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdb        497M   11M  486M   6% /mnt
/dev/sdc       1014M   33M  982M   4% /mnt2

We could then add these into /etc/fstab to mount them automatically during system boot.

To log out of the iSCSI target, first unmount the disks.

[[email protected] /]# umount /mnt
[[email protected] /]# umount /mnt2

Then perform the actual log out, after this we confirm there are no active sessions.

[[email protected] ~]# iscsiadm -m node -u
Logging out of session [sid: 1, target: iqn.2016-01.com.example:target, portal: 192.168.1.200,3260]
Logout of [sid: 1, target: iqn.2016-01.com.example:target, portal: 192.168.1.200,3260] successful.

[[email protected] ~]# iscsiadm -m session -P 0
iscsiadm: No active sessions.

At this point if we rebooted the client system, it will automatically log back in to the iSCSI target, so if you did set up auto mounting via /etc/fstab it should mount properly. If we then reboot the iSCSI target server, it should automatically start up the target service, making the iSCSI target available on system boot.

Extra Tips

Well that’s quite a bit too remember! Luckily almost all of this information is available in the targetcli and iscsiadm manual pages, so keep these in mind if you get stuck.

man targetcli
man iscsiadm

Summary

We have now shown you how to first configure the iSCSI target on the server that will be exporting its storage over the network, and then set up an iSCSI initiator on a client system to connect to the target server. Once connected, the iSCSI initiator client is able to make use of the disks exported on the iSCSI target server as though they were locally attached. This includes performing operations such as partitioning or creating a file system and then mounting the disks and accessing them over the network to read and write data via iSCSI.


This post is part of our Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) exam study guide series. For more RHCE related posts and information check out our full RHCE study guide.

  1. Ensure that the iscsi and iscsid services are enabled on the client, otherwise you may have some unexpected fun after system restart.

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