Getting Started with Linux-HA (heartbeat)


Let me preface this document by saying most of this is _not_ original work.  My purpose for writing this document is just trying to contribute in some way to possibly help those who REALLY get things done.  The "work" I am contributing is mostly compiling bits and pieces from other HA documents (such as Volker Wiegand's Hardware Installation Guide) into a document that can help novices get started on HA without pestering Alan (like I did!) and to cut down on repeat questions on the mailing list.

Getting Started

The first thing you'll need is two computers.  You need not have identical hardware in both machines (or amount of memory, etc.), but if you did, it would make your life that much easier when a component fails.

Now you have to decide on some of your implementation.  Your "cluster" is established via a "heartbeat" between the two computers (nodes) generated by the software package of the same name.  However, this heartbeat needs one or more media paths between the nodes.

At this point, you're actually ready to begin hardware-wise.  Of course, since you're looking into HA, you'll mostly likely want to avoid having only one point of failure.  In this case, that would be your null modem cable or serial port.  So, you need to decide whether you wish to add a second serial/null modem connection or a second network interface card (NIC) to each node connected via a crossover cable.  See Appendix A for instructions on how to build a crossover cable.  My setup goes the 2 NIC route because I only had one null modem cable, had plenty of NICs on hand and thought it was good to have two medium types for the heartbeats.

Once your hardware is in order, you must install your OS and configure your networking (I used Red Hat).  Assuming you have 2 NICs, one should be configured for your "normal" network and the other as a private network between your clustered nodes (via the crossover cable).  For an example, we will assume that our cluster will have the following addresses:

Node 1 (linuxha1):  (normal 192x net)
            (private 10x net)
Node 2 (linuxha2):  (192x)
Note:  Neither of these addresses should be your "cluster address" - the address handled by heartbeat and failed over between nodes!

  Red Hat makes this easy during installation (please don't think I'm carrying their banner, it's just what I use), however, if you use another distribution or are having any problems, refer to the Ethernet HOWTO.     To check your configuration, type:


This will show your network interfaces and their configuration.  You can obtain the same information in a less verbose form from "netstat -nr"

If it looks good, make sure you can ping between both nodes on all interfaces.

Next, you need to test your serial connection.  On one node, which will be the receiver, type:
           cat </dev/ttyS0

On the other node, type,:
           echo hello >/dev/ttyS0

You should see the text on the receiver node.  If it works, change their roles and try again.  If it doesn't, it may be as simple as having the wrong device file.  Volker's HA Hardware Guide and the Serial HOWTO are two good resources for troubleshooting your serial connection.

Installing Heartbeat.

You can now install the heartbeat package.  If you're reading this, you already have it, but in any case it's available at:

Untar it into your favorite source directory.   The RPM version is available at the web site, or make your own RPM version, type "make rpm" and use rpm to install.  Otherwise, you can simply type "make install".

Configuring Heartbeat

There are three files you will need to configure before starting up heartbeat.  First, is  This will be placed in the /etc/ha.d directory that is created after installation.  It tells heartbeat what types of media paths to use and how to configure them.   The in the source directory contains all the various options you can use, I'll go through it line by line...
serial /dev/ttyS0
       -->  Mandatory.  Replace /dev/ttyS0 with the appropriate dev file for your required serial heartbeat.
watchdog /dev/watchdog
Optional.  The watchdog function provides a way to have a system that is still minimally functioning, but not providing a heartbeat, reboot itself after a minute of being sick.  This could help to avoid a scenario where the machine recovers its heartbeat after being pronounced dead.  If that happened and a disk mount failed over, you could have two nodes mounting a disk simultaneously. If you wish to use this feature, then in addition to this line, you will need to load the "softdog" kernel module and create the actual device file.  To do this, first type "insmod softdog" to load the module. Then, type "grep misc /proc/devices" and note the number it reports (should be 10).  Next, type "cat /proc/misc | grep watchdog" and note that number (should be 130).  Now you can create the device file with that info typing, "mknod /dev/watchdog c 10 130".
udp eth1
Specifies to use a udp heartbeat over the 10x eth1 interface (replace with eth0, eth1, or whatever you use).
keepalive 2
Sets the time between heartbeats to 2 seconds.
deadtime 10
Node is pronounced dead after 10 seconds.
hopfudge 1
Optional.  For ring topologies, number of hops allowed in addition to the number of nodes in the cluster.
baud 19200
Speed at which to run the serial line (bps).
udpport 694
Use port number 694 for udp. This is the default, and the official registered port number.
nice_failback on
Optional.  For those familiar with Tru64 Unix, heartbeat acts as if in "favored member"mode.  The master holds all the resources until a failover, at which time the slave takes over.  Once the master comes back online, it will take everything back from the slave.  This option will prevent the master node from re-acquiring cluster resources after a failover.
Mandatory.  Hostname of machine in cluster as described by `uname -a`.
Mandatory.  Hostname of machine in cluster as described by `uname -a`.
Configuring haresources
Once you've got your set up, you need to configure haresources.  This file specifies the services for the cluster and who the default owner is.
Note:  This file must be the same on both nodes!

For our example, we'll assume the high availability services are Apache and Samba.  The IP for the cluster is mandatory, and don't configure the cluster IP outside of the haresources file!.  The haresources will need one line:
 httpd smb
So, this line dictates that on startup, have linuxha1 serve the IP and start apache and samba as well.
On shutdown, heartbeat will first stop smb, then apache, then give up the IP.  This assumes that the command "uname -n" spits out "" - yours may well produce "linuxha1" and if it does, use that instead!

Note:  httpd and smb are the name of startup scripts for Apache and Samba, respectively.  Heartbeat will look for startup scripts of the same name in the following paths:

These scripts must start services via "scriptname start" and stop them via "scriptname stop".
So you can use any services as long as they conform to the above standard.

Should you need to pass arguments to a custom script, the format would be:

So, if we added a service "maid" which needed the argument "vacuum", our haresources line would modify to the following:
                linuxha1 httpd smb maid::vacuum

This brings us to some added flexibility with the service IP address.  We are actually using a shorthand notation above.  The actual line could have read (we've canned the maid):

                linuxha1 IPaddr:: httpd smb
Where IPaddr is the name of our service script, taking the argument  Sure enough, if you look in the directory /etc/ha.d/resource.d, you will find a script called IPaddr.  This script will also allow you to manipulate the netmask and broadcast address of this IP service.  To specify a subnet with 32 addresses, you could define the service as (leaving off the IPaddr because we can!):
                linuxha1 httpd smb
This sets the IP service address to, the netmask to and the broadcast address would default to (which is the highest address on the subnet).  The last parameter you can set is the broadcast address.  To override the default  and set it to, your entry would read:
                linuxha1 httpd smb
You may be wondering whether any of the above is necessary for you.  It depends.  If you've properly established a net route (independent of heartbeat) for the service's IP address, with the correct netmask and broadcast address, then no, it's not necessary for you.  However, this case won't fit everybody and that's why the option's there!  In addition, you may have more than one possible interface that could be used for the service IP.  Read on to see how heartbeat treats this...

Once you straighten out your haresources file, copy and haresources to /etc/ha.d and you're ready to start!

Selecting an Interface

One important aspect of configuring the haresources file for a machine which has multiple ethernet interfaces is to know how heartbeat selects which interface will wind up supporting the service addresses that are configured in haresources.  After all, no interface was specified in the haresources file.

Heartbeat decides which interface will be used by looking at the routing table.  It tries to select the lowest cost route to the IP address to be taken over.  In the case of a tie, it chooses the first route found.  For most configurations this means the default route will be least preferred.

If you don't specify a netmask for the IP address in the haresources file, the netmask associated with the selected route will be used.

Configuring Authkeys

The third file to configure determines your authentication keys.  There are three types of authentication methods available:  crc, md5, and sha1.  "Well, which should I use?", you ask.  Since this document is called "Getting Started", we'll keep it simple......

If your heartbeat runs over a secure network, such as the crossover cable in our example, you'll want to use crc.  This is the cheapest method from a resources perspective.  If the network is insecure, but you're either not very paranoid or concerned about minimizing CPU resources, use md5.  Finally, if you want the best authentication without regard for CPU resources, use sha1.  It's the hardest to crack.

The format of the file is as follows:
auth <number>
<number> <authmethod> [<authkey>]

SO, for sha1, a sample /etc/ha.d/authkeys could be:
auth 1
1 sha1 key-for-sha1-any-text-you-want

For md5, you could use the same as the above, but replace "sha1" with "md5".

Finally, for crc, a sample can be:
auth 2
1 crc

Make sure its permissions are safe, like 600.  And "any text you want" is not quite right.  There's a limit to the number of characters you can use.
That's it!

Starting and testing heartbeat

From Red Hat, or other distributions which use the SystemV style init files, simply type /etc/rc.d/init.d/heartbeat start on both nodes.  I would recommend starting on the system master (in our example linuxha1) first.

If you want heartbeat to run on startup, what to do will differ on your distribution.  For Red Hat (again, sorry) and Mandrake, you will need to place links to the startup script in the appropriate init level directories.  I have heartbeat start last and only care about the 0(halt), 6(reboot), 3(text-only), 5(X) run levels.
So, I needed to type in the following (as root, of course):

    cd /etc/rc.d/rc0.d ; ln -s ../init.d/heartbeat K01heartbeat
    cd /etc/rc.d/rc3.d ; ln -s ../init.d/heartbeat S99heartbeat
    cd /etc/rc.d/rc5.d ; ln -s ../init.d/heartbeat S99heartbeat
    cd /etc/rc.d/rc6.d ; ln -s ../init.d/heartbeat K01heartbeat

The last time I ran slackware, there was no /etc/rc.d/init.d directory (may have changed by now) and to do the same thing, I would have placed in /etc/rc.d/rc.local:
    /etc/ha.d/heartbeat start
***This assumes you copy the file ha.rc to /etc/ha.d/heartbeat.  If you can't find /etc/rc.d/init.d with your distribution and you're unsure of how processes start, you can use the rc.local method.  But you're on your own for shutdown, I just don't remember...

Note:  If you use the watchdog function, you'll need to load its module at bootup as well.  For Red Hat, I put the following command at the bottom of the /etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit file:
    /sbin/insmod softdog
For the rc.local method, just put the same line right above where you start heartbeat.

Once you've started heartbeat, take a peek at your log file (default is /var/log/ha-log) before testing it.  If all is peachy, the service owner's log (linuxha1 in our example) should look something like this:
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:45 info: Neither logfile nor logfacility found.
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:45 info: Defaulting to /var/log/ha-log
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:45 info: ***********************
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:45 info: Configuration validated. Starting heartbeat.
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:46 notice: Starting serial heartbeat on tty /dev/ttyS0
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:46 notice: UDP heartbeat started on port 694 interface eth1
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:46 notice: Using watchdog device: /dev/watchdog
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:46 error: Cannot open /proc/ha/.control: No such file or directory
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:56 warn: node is dead
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:56 info: Running /etc/ha.d/rc.d/status status
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:57 info: Requesting our resources.
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:58 info: Running /etc/ha.d/resource.d/IPaddr status
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:26:58 info: Running /etc/ha.d/rc.d/ip-request ip-request
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:00 info: node status up
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:00 info: Running /etc/ha.d/rc.d/status status
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:28 Acquiring resource group: httpd smb mirror
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:28 info: Running /etc/ha.d/resource.d/mirror  start
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:29 info: Running /etc/rc.d/init.d/smb  start
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:30 info: Running /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd  start
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:31 info: Running /etc/ha.d/resource.d/IPaddr start
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:32 info: ifconfig eth0:0 netmask broadcast
heartbeat: 2000/01/18_14:27:32 Sending Gratuitous Arp for on eth0:0 [eth0]
NOTE:  Your log may differ depending on when you started heartbeat on linuxha2!!!  I waited just over 10 seconds.

OK, now try to ping your cluster's IP ( in the example). If this works, telnet to it and verify you're on linuxha1.
Next, make sure your services are tied to the .3 address.  Bring up netscape and type in for the URL.  For Samba, try to map the drive "\\\test"  assuming you set up a share called "test".  See Samba docs to get that going.  As an aside, however, you'll want to use the "netbios name" parameter to have your Samba share listed under the cluster name and not the hostname of your cluster member!

NOTE: If you can't bring up the service IP address and you get ha-log entries similar to this:

        SIOCSIFADDR: No such device
        SIOCSIFFLAGS: No such device
        SIOCSIFNETMASK: No such device
        SIOCSIFBRDADDR: No such device
        SIOCSIFFLAGS: No such device
        SIOCADDRT: No such device
It may mean that you need to enable IP aliasing in your kernel build.  Check /usr/src/linux/.config for "CONFIG_IP_ALIAS=y" if you don't have it, you'll have the line "CONFIG_IP_ALIAS is not set".  Rebuild your kernel with IP aliasing enabled.
If this all works, you've got availability.  Now let's see if we have High Availability :-)

Take down linuxha1.  Kill power, kill heartbeat, whatever you have the stomach for, but don't just yank both the serial and eth1 heartbeat cables.  If you do that, you'll have services running on both nodes and when you re-connect the heartbeat, a bit of chaos....
Now ping the cluster IP. Approximately 5-10 seconds later it should start responding again. Telnet again and verify you're on linuxha2.  If it happens but takes more like 30 seconds, something is wrong.

If you get this far, it's probably working, but you should probably check all your heartbeats, too.
First, check your serial heartbeat.  Unplug the crossover cable from your eth1 NIC that you're using for your udp heartbeat.  Wait about 10 seconds.
Now, look at /var/log/ha-log on linuxha2 and make sure there's no line like this:
    1999/08/16_12:40:58 node is dead
If you get that, your serial heartbeat isn't working and your second node is taking over.  To avoid any problems, shut down heartbeat on the first node, then test your null modem cable.  Run the above serial tests again.

If your log is clean, great.  Re-connect the crossover cable.  Once that's done, disconnect the serial cable, wait 10 seconds and check the linuxha2 log again.
If it's clean, congrats!  If not, you can check /var/log/ha-log and /var/log/ha-debug for more clues.

Appendix A - Crossover Cable Construction

Your cable diagram should be as follows:

    Connector A     Connector B
Connector A Connector B
Pin # Pin #
1 3
2 6
3 1
6 2
4 7
5 8
7 4
8 5

Rev 1.1.0
(c) 2000 Rudy Pawul