Installing Ubuntu 20.04 with bcache support.
2020 May 22 -
This post is a continuation of my
bcache installation instruction series that
began six years ago with
This edition includes instructions for setting up
bcache on Ubuntu 20.04.
Unfortunately, even after all of this time, Cannonical has yet
to include built-in support for
bcache in the initial
initramfs. Thus the
instructions here remain largely unchanged from my prior posts, save one change
to restore the
resolv.conf file prior to restarting the machine.
Before we get going, not that this is only valid for a new installation of Linux as we delete all file system information. If this isn’t what you want to do, I suggest you check out flashcache or EnhanceIO which will let you migrate a live system.
Here are the major steps:
- Boot the Ubuntu installer
- Create a partitions for
/boot, the backing, and cache devices.
- Create the
- Install Ubuntu onto
- While still in the live CD,
chrootinto the new installation
- Reboot into a fully functional system.
Properly acknowledging my sources, there are two critical posts on StackOverflow
that made me think I could get away with this scheme:
alex’s answer on how to setup bcache and
Lekensteyn’s answer on how to restore kernels
Lastly, be aware that Grub (and Grub2) do not support bcache, so you will need a
First, if you have used this system for anything important, back up your data. We’ll be erasing everything shortly.
Now, boot into the Ubuntu installer and remove any unnecessary partitions. You
fdisk on the command line or the
gparted GUI for this. Now, lets
assume that your SSD is
/dev/sda and your hard disk is
/dev/sdb. Create the
following partitioning scheme:
/dev/sda1 - 1024 MB, EXT4, used for /boot /dev/sda2 - any format, for cache /dev/sdb1 - EFI partition (if your machine needs it) /dev/sdb2 - swap /dev/sdb3 - any format, backing partition
Don’t worry about doing a deep format of the caching and backing partitions as
we’ll wipe these shortly. If you made any major changes to the partition tables,
you might need to reboot before you can proceed.
gparted, in particular, will
let you know if this is the case.
Loading bcache, creating device
First, connect to the Internet. Make sure the connection is working. Next open up a terminal and wipe the cache and backing partition file systems:
sudo wipefs -a /dev/sda2 sudo wipefs -a /dev/sdb3
Next we will install
bcache-tools and create the
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install bcache-tools sudo make-bcache -B /dev/sdb3 -C /dev/sda2 sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/bcache0
Notice the command to
make-bcache used the HDD partition,
as the backing (
-B) device and the SDD partition,
the cache (
WITHOUT rebooting, run the Ubuntu installer from the desktop. When you get to the installation type screen which lets you pick how to install the OS (e.g. the page that says “Erase disk and install Ubuntu” or “Something else”) choose to do custom partitioning.
In the partitioning dialog configure the following:
/dev/bcache0 - format EXT4, use as / /dev/sda1 - format EXT4, use as /boot /dev/sdb1 - EFI partition (if your machine needs it) /dev/sdb2 - swap
Proceed with the installation as normal. When it completes DO NOT REBOOT as
initramfs installed by the live CD does not have the
module. If you accidentally rebooted, simply go back in to the live image,
bcache-tools package as described above and continue with the
Installing bcache on the new installation
Here is where things get tricky. What we’re going to do is switch to the new
operating system without booting and install some software to get
installed and a new
initramfs generated so the computer will boot.
First we are going to create a valid
chroot environment. We start by mounting
several directories from the new installation into specific subdirectories in
order to create the directory structure Ubuntu Linux expects:
sudo mount /dev/bcache0 /mnt sudo mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot sudo mount --bind /dev /mnt/dev sudo mount --bind /proc /mnt/proc sudo mount --bind /sys /mnt/sys
Because we will need Internet access, we need to copy the DNS configuration from
the live CD into the
sudo mv /mnt/etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/resolv.conf.backup sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/etc/resolv.conf
Next we put ourselves into the
sudo chroot /mnt
Now we are effectively within the new installation’s file system. So all we need
to do is install
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install bcache-tools
After the package is installed, you should notice that the
re-generated and installed. You can check the timestamps on the files in
date to confirm this is the case.
Now we clean up. Exit the
chroot, restore the old
cleanly dismount the file system, and reboot:
exit sudo mv /mnt/etc/resolv.conf.backup /mnt/etc/resolv.conf sudo umount /mnt/sys sudo umount /mnt/proc sudo umount /mnt/dev sudo umount /mnt/boot sudo umount /mnt sudo reboot
With any luck, your machine will reboot normally and you will have a fully
functional Ubuntu installation with
bcache out of the box without all the work
of previous methods.