The table below captures the behaviour observed on various Operating systems and Hypervisors in detail, while using 3TB drives. This information is added to complement the information available at :http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/HDD+Support+for+2.5TB,+3TB+Drives+and+Beyond

As mentioned, the information is captured while using 3TB drives. But the behavior captured below applies, while using any drives of size greater than 2TB.

Please note the behaviour captured below is while using the default partition layouts selected by the OS installers. So, with some changes to the partition layouts, the user may not see the failures/issues reported below.

OS Name  Boot Disk (with gpt) Secondary Data Disk (gpt)  Use > 2TB Drives to boot in BIOS mode (with mbr) 
SLES 11 Works. The OS installs and boots up fine. Works. The Complete 3TB is presented to the OS when partitioned with GPT. Works. The default partition layout selected by SLES11 installer is
  • a 2GB partition for swap and
  • a 1.9TB partition for root.
With the above layout, the second partition will end at:4294961684 sector, and thus allowing another partition to be created without violating the NOTE{1,2} below. The user can create a new partition with the unused/left-out space in the disk/LUN using a partitioning tool like parted.
ESX 4.1 - Classic Doesn't Work. Cannot boot the ESX 4.1 Install CD/DVD in EFI mode.

VD Required. If the complete 3TB drive is provided as a Virtual Disk, and the user attempts to create a datastore on it, ESX throws out an error dialog with message "An error occurred during host configuration". In order to use the complete space available on the > 2TB drive, create Virtual Disks of size 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) with the Storage Controller and add the resultant volumes/disks to ESX storage. Please refer to Config Maximums for Vmware vSphere 4.1 guide for more details.

VD Required.

ESX 4.1 Classic boots up, but doesn't allow the user to select the >2TB disk/volume in BIOS mode for installation.

ESX 4.1 - Installable Doesn't Work. Cannot boot the ESX 4.1 Installer CD/DVD in EFI mode. VD Required. If the complete 3TB drive is used for creating a datastore, vsphere client throws an error and fails. In order to use the complete space available on the > 2TB drive, create Virtual Disks of size 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) using the Storage controller and add the resultant volumes/disks to ESX storage. Please refer to Config Maximums for Vmware vSphere 4.1 guide for more details. VD Required. If an user initiates an install of ESX 4.0 U1 Installable on a >2TB drive in BIOS mode, the install proceeds to completion and the server boots up fine. If the user attempts to create a datastore using the unused/free space in the >2TB disk/LUN only ~741GB will be available and the rest of the space will be inaccessible. To use all the space available on the disk, create virtual disks of size 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) with the storage controller and use those virtual disks.
ESX 4.0 U1 -Classic Doesn't Work. Cannot boot the ESX 4.0 U1 Classic DVD in EFI mode. VD Required. ESX 4.0 only supports 2TB (minus 512B) volumes. So, if an user tires to create a datastore using a disk/LUN greater > 2TB, vCenter client would throw the error message "Error during the configuration of the host: Failed to get disk partition information". In order to use a > 2TB drive as a datastore, create Virtual Disks of size 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) using the Storage controller and add the resultant volumes/disks to ESX storage. Please refer to Config Maximums for Vmware vSphere 4.0 guide for more details. VD Required. ESX 4.0 installer boots up, but doesn't allow the user to select the >2TB disk/volume in BIOS mode for installation.
ESX 4.0 U1 -Installable Doesn't Work. Cannot boot the ESX 4.0 U1 Install CD/DVD in EFI mode. VD Required. ESX 4.0 only supports 2TB (minus 512B) volumes. So, if an user tires create a datastore using a driver/LUN greater > 2TB, vCenter client would throw the error message "Error during the configuration of the host: Failed to get disk partition information". In order to use a > 2TB drive as a datastore, create Virtual Disks of size 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) using the Storage controller and add the resultant volumes/disks to ESX storage. Please refer to Config Maximums for Vmware vSphere 4.0 guide for more details. VD Required. If an user initiates an install of ESX 4.0 U1 Installable on a >2TB drive in BIOS mode, the install proceeds to completion and the server boots up fine. If the user attempts to create a datastore using the unused/free space in the >2TB disk/LUN only ~745GB will be available and the rest of the space will be inaccessible. To use all the space available on the disk, create virtual disks of size 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) with the storage controller and use those disks.
ESX/i 5.0 Works. ESX 5.0 installs and boots up fine on the 3TB drives. Works. The Complete 3TB is detected and used a storage device(datastore). Works. The Complete 3TB is detected and used a storage device(datastore).
SLES10 SP3 Doesn't Work. The default partition layout, uses :

2.0 GB swap 2.7TB partition for / (with reiserfs).

Installation fails, while installing the boot loader. Following is the screenshot of the failure:
Screenshot
Works. The Complete 3TB is detected as a single partition when partitioned with GPT. VD Required. Installing SLES 10 SP3 in BIOS mode on a 3TB drive with MBR partition table fails. The failure is observed while installing the bootloader. Following is the screenshot of the failure.
Screenshot
RHEL 5.5 Doesn't Work. Cannot boot the RHEL 5.5 install DVD in EFI mode. Works. The Complete 3TB is exposed as a single partition, when partitioned with GPT. VD Required. If the complete 3TB drive is provided to the OS for installation, RHEL 5.5 will create a single partition on the drive with gpt. Since the system booted in BIOS mode and the drive is gpt partitioned, the installation would fail with the following message: Screenshot

RHEL 5.5 doesn't allow the 3TB drive to be MBR partitioned. Since the system is in BIOS mode, it would complain that it cannot continue, because the boot partition is on a GPT partitioned HDD. Only way to install RHEL 5.5 in BIOS mode on a 3TB drive is to create two virtual disks of 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) or smaller on the 3TB using the storage controller and use those drives.
RHEL 4.8 Doesn't Work. Cannot boot the RHEL 4.8 install DVD in EFI mode. Works. The Complete 3TB is exposed as a single partition, when partitioned with GPT. VD Required. Installation of RHEL 4.8 will proceed to completion without errors. But the system will not be able too boot to the new installation. Create Virtual Disks of 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) or smaller size with the stroage controller and use those disks.
RHEL6 Works. RHEL 6 installs and boots up fine on 3TB drives in EFI mode. Works. The Complete 3TB is exposed as a single partition, when partitioned with GPT.

Use VDs. The default partition layout selected by RHEL6 installer is:

  • 485MB of /boot partition
  • Second partition of 2.0TB with logical volumes of 50G for / , ~1.93T for /home and 17.7G for swap.

With this partition layout RHEL6 installs and boots up fine. The second partition ends at sector 4294967295. If the user attempts to create a new partition with the unused space (space beyond 2TB line), parted will fail with the following message:
Error: starting sector number, 4294967296 exceeds the msdos-partition-table-imposed maximum of 4294967295.

NOTE: While using RHEL, only 2TB drives are supported as boot drives, while booting in Legacy BIOS mode. So, you will be using the below mentioned Method 2 and Method 3 at your own risk.


Following the NOTE{1,2} below, since the maximum start sector of the partition is greater than 4294967295, the user cannot any more partitions. One of the following methods can be used to get around the problem:

[edit] Method 1

Create Virtual Disks of size 2TB or less using the Storage Controllers and use those drives.

[edit] Method 2

Reinstall RHEL 6 with a different partition layout and make sure the second partition ends before 4294967295 sector (~ 2047.99GB).

[edit] Method 3

The third method is to resize(compress to be exact) the physical volume and make sure the second partition ends before the sector limit mentioned in the NOTE1 below.

The below steps can be followed to resize the second partition to allow a third partition to be created.

To be able to use the space left-out by RHEL6 installer on the 3TB drive, decrease the size of the second partition (physical volume) to make sure the starting sector of the third partition is less than 4294967295. The default partition layout installs the swap logical volume physically towards the end of the physical volume. So, we will reduce the size of the swap (logical volume) and allow the physical volume to be compressed.

  • Disable swap with

swapoff -a

  • Remove the logical volume with

lvremove /dev/mapper/VolGroup-lv_swap

  • Create a new logical volume with

lvcreate --size 15G --name lv_swap VolGroup

  • Make swap space and enable swap on the new logical volume

mkswap /dev/mapper/VolGroup-lv_swap swapon /dev/mapper/VolGroup-lv_swap

Now the free space will be available to the end (523470 to 524161 in the below output) of the physical volume. You can check the same with

pvdisplay -m.

--- Physical volume ---
PV Name /dev/sda2
VG Name VolGroup
PV Size 2.00 TiB / not usable 3.00 MiB
Allocatable yes
PE Size 4.00 MiB
Total PE 524162
Free PE 692
Allocated PE 523470
PV UUID YSMKBj-Fla8-y0nc-OUfK-ZJ1J-3EKd-uiHSUA

--- Physical Segments ---

Physical extent 0 to 12799:
Logical Volume /dev/VolGroup/lv_root
Logical extents 0 to 12799

Physical extent 12800 to 519629:
Logical volume /dev/VolGroup/lv_home
Logical extents 0 to 506829

Physical extent 519630 to 523469:
Logical volume /dev/VolGroup/lv_swap
Logical extents 0 to 3839

Physical extent 523470 to 524161:
FREE


To reduce the size of the physical volume:

pvresize --setphysicalvolumesize /dev/sda2

The critical part in the above command is to calculate the right size to resize the physical volume to. To deduce the size, run

pvdisplay -m

--- Physical volume ---
PV Name /dev/sda2
VG Name VolGroup
PV Size 2.00 TiB / not usable 3.00 MiB
Allocatable yes
PE Size 4.00 MiB
Total PE 523519
Free PE 49
Allocated PE 523470
PV UUID fCnULl-7w4k-dBT1-X66j-Vr8E-9Vm2-jkmiPu

--- Physical Segments ---
Physical extent 0 to 12799:

Logical volume /dev/VolGroup/lv_root
Logical extents 0 to 12799


Physical extent 12800 to 519629:

Logical volume /dev/VolGroup/lv_home
Logical extents 0 to 506829


Physical extent 519630 to 523469:

Logical volume /dev/VolGroup/lv_swap
Logical extents 0 to 3839


Physical extent 523470 to 523518:

FREE


From the above output the physical extents starting from 523470 are free. So, the final size of the physical volume has to be no smaller than 523470*PE Size. Since the PE Size if 4MB in the above output, the final size = 523470 *4MB = 2044.8G(round it to 2045GB)

Now the final step is to reduce the size of the second partition. Run the following command to get the size information in terms of number of sectors.

pvs --units s
PV VG Fmt Attr PSize PFree
/dev/sda2 VolGroup lvm2 a- 4288667648S 401408S

The highlighted number above is the size of the physical volume in sectors after resizing it. Now the second partition's end point has to be moved close to this sector. The second partition starts at sector 1026048 and we will add number of sectors in the Physical Volume to this value, to calculate the end sector of the partition(4288667648+1026048 = 4289693696).

Now the system has to be booted into a lived gparted disk, to resize the partition. First remove the second partition: parted /dev/sda rm 2

Recreate the second partition with

parted /dev/sda mkpart primary 1026048s 4289693696s

parted /dev/sda set 2 lvm on

This will move the last sector of the second partition to 4289693696 and so, the user will be able to create a third partition now, because the start sector of the third partition is less than 4294967295 following the NOTE{1,2} below.
Citrix Xenserver 5.6 Doesn't Work. Cannot boot to the Xenserver install DVD in EFI mode. Works. When the 3TB drive is selected as an additional storage device, Xenserver creates a "Physical Volume" out of the whole drive and uses it for storing VMs. VD Required. If the complete 3TB drive, is provided for installation, Xenserver 5.6 installation will fail. So, the 3TB drive has to be broken down into two Virtual Disks of 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) or smaller using the Storage Controller. Xenserver will be installed in one of the drives and the remaining space along with the second drive can be used for storage.
Ubuntu 10.10 Server Doesn't Work. Cannot boot to the Ubuntu 10.10 in UEFI mode. Works. The Complete 3TB is exposed as single partition when GPT partition table is used. VD Required. Installation of Ubuntu 10.10 fails if the complete 3TB drive is selected for installation. So, use the Storage Controller to create Virtual Disks of 2TB (slightly smaller than 2048GB) or smaller and use those virtual disks for installation.
Solaris 10 Update 9 Doesn't Work. UEFI boot is not supported in Solaris 10 Update  Works. The Complete 3TB is exposed as single partition when GPT partition table is used.

VD Required. The installation proceeds to completion when the complete 3TB drive is selected for installation, but only 2Tb of the drive will be used during installation. The rest of the space will be inaccessible. In order to use the complete 3TB drive, please use the Storage Controller to create Virtual Disks of 2TB (slightly smaller then 2048GB) or smaller and use those Virtual Disks for installation.






NOTE1: mbr partition scheme doesn't allow the maximum starting address or the size of a single partition to be greater than 2TB (4294967295 sectors). So, please keep this in mind while installing OS on MBR partitioned 3TB drives.


NOTE2: msdos labels do not support devices that have more than 8589934591 (~3.999TB) sectors.