The cluster stack
Install and configure
Check cluster status
Cluster health check
Adding a resource

Getting Started

So, you’ve successfully installed crmsh on one or more machines, and now you want to configure a basic cluster. This guide is intended to provide step-by-step instructions for configuring Pacemaker with a single resource capable of failing over between a pair of nodes, and then builds on that base to cover some more advanced topics of cluster management.

Haven’t installed yet? Please follow the installation instructions before continuing this guide. Only crmsh and its dependencies need to be installed before following this guide.

Before continuing, make sure that this command executes successfully on all nodes, and returns a version number that is 3.0 or higher:

crm --version

In crmsh 3, the cluster init commands were replaced by the SLE HA bootstrap scripts. These rely on csync2 for configuration file management, so make sure that you have the csync2 command installed before proceeding. This requirement may be removed in the future.

Example cluster

These are the machines used as an example in this guide. Please replace the references to these names and IP addresses to the values appropriate for your cluster:

Name IP



The cluster stack

The composition of the GNU/Linux cluster stack has changed somewhat over the years. The stack described here is the currently most common variant, but there are other ways of configuring these tools.

Simply put, a High Availability cluster is a set of machines (commonly referred to as nodes) with redundant capacity, such that if one or more of these machines experience failure of any kind, the other nodes in the cluster can take over the responsibilities previously handled by the failed node.

The cluster stack is a set of programs running on all of these nodes, communicating with each other over the network to monitor each other and deciding where, when and how resources are stopped, started or reconfigured.

The main component of the stack is Pacemaker, the software responsible for managing cluster resources, allocating them to cluster nodes according to the rules specified in the CIB.

The CIB is an XML document maintained by Pacemaker, which describes all cluster resources, their configuration and the constraints that decide where and how they are managed. This document is not edited directly, and with the help of crmsh it is possible to avoid exposure to the underlying XML at all.

Beneath Pacemaker in the stack sits Corosync, a cluster communication system. Corosync provides the communication capabilities and cluster membership functionality used by Pacemaker. Corosync is configured through the file /etc/corosync/corosync.conf. crmsh provides tools for configuring corosync similar to Pacemaker.

Aside from these two components, the stack also consists of a collection of Resource Agents. These are basically scripts that wrap software that the cluster needs to manage, providing a unified interface to configuration, supervision and management of the software. For example, there are agents that handle virtual IP resources, web servers, databases and filesystems.

crmsh is a command line tool which interfaces against all of these components, providing a unified interface for configuration and management of the whole cluster stack.


crmsh runs as a command line tool on any one of the cluster nodes. In order for to to control all cluster nodes, it needs to be able to execute commands remotely. crmsh does this by invoking ssh.

Configure /etc/hosts on each of the nodes so that the names of the other nodes map to the IP addresses of those nodes. For example in a cluster consisting of alice and bob, executing ping bob when logged in as root on alice should successfully locate bob on the network. Given the IP addresses of alice and bob above, the following should be entered into /etc/hosts on both nodes:      alice      bob

Install and configure

To configure the basic cluster, we use the cluster init command provided by crmsh. This command has quite a few options for setting up the cluster, but we will use a fairly basic configuration.

crm cluster init --name demo-cluster --nodes "alice bob"

The initialization tool will now ask a series of questions about the configuration, and then proceed to configure and start the cluster on both nodes.

Check cluster status

To see if Pacemaker is running, what nodes are part of the cluster and what resources are active, use the status command:

crm status

If this command fails or times out, there is some problem with Pacemaker or Corosync on the local machine. Perhaps some dependency is missing, a firewall is blocking cluster communication or some other unrelated problem has occurred. If this is the case, the cluster health command may be of use.

Cluster health check

To check the health status of the machines in the cluster, use the following command:

crm cluster health

This command will perform multiple diagnostics on all nodes in the cluster, and return information about low disk space, communication issues or problems with mismatching software versions between nodes, for example.

If no cluster has been configured or there is some fundamental problem with cluster communications, crmsh may be unable to figure out what nodes are part of the cluster. If this is the case, the list of nodes can be provided to the health command directly:

crm cluster health nodes=alice,bob

Adding a resource

To test the cluster and make sure it is working properly, we can configure a Dummy resource. The Dummy resource agent is a simple resource that doesn’t actually manage any software. It exposes a single numerical parameter called state which can be used to test the basic functionality of the cluster before introducing the complexities of actual resources.

To configure a Dummy resource, run the following command:

crm configure primitive p0 Dummy

This creates a new resource, gives it the name p0 and sets the agent for the resource to be the Dummy agent.

crm status should now show the p0 resource as started on one of the cluster nodes:

# crm status
Last updated: Wed Jul  2 21:49:26 2014
Last change: Wed Jul  2 21:49:19 2014
Stack: corosync
Current DC: alice (2) - partition with quorum
Version: 1.1.11-c3f1a7f
2 Nodes configured
1 Resources configured

Online: [ alice bob ]

 p0     (ocf::heartbeat:Dummy): Started alice

The resource can be stopped or started using the resource start and resource stop commands:

crm resource stop p0
crm resource start p0
Fork me on GitHub