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LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS

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Joakim Ziegler
LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Sep 14, 2012 at 8:01:13 pm

I'm looking to get an LTFS capable LTO-5 drive for use on MacOS, connected through an ATTO SAS controller. I'm wondering which brands/models people have had luck with, and which to avoid. Quantum seems decently priced, but I've seen some older (1-2 years old) comments from people having trouble with them on MacOS. Others seem to swear by HP, but HP is somewhat more expensive.

Ideas and comments? Would love to hear from people actually using systems in production.

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Joakim Ziegler - Postproduction Supervisor


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Joakim Ziegler
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Sep 14, 2012 at 8:40:49 pm

I see the HP LTFS implementation isn't officially supported for anything beyond Snow Leopard, and only in 32-bit mode. Is this something you can work around?

Also, how about IBM drives? IBM provides LTFS for MacOS at least up to Lion in 64-bit, probably also Mountain Lions, I'd guess. Has anyone used their implementation?

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Joakim Ziegler - Postproduction Supervisor


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Peter Amies
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Sep 25, 2012 at 7:49:02 pm

Hi Joakim,

Did you have any luck on this? I'm in the same boat, looking at LTO-5 / LTFS standalone drive solutions to work with a new Mac Pro (Mountain Lion) with an Atto SAS HBA.

I was a little shocked to see HP haven't kept up with support on Lion and Mountain Lion (at least not listed on their driver download page), and the whole thing has me wondering whether or not LTFS on Mac really is as easy as they'd like to purport in their marketing.

Peter


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Joakim Ziegler
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Sep 26, 2012 at 4:36:54 am

No, I've actually kind of put it on hold for the moment, since I can't find good info. I talked to a guy from BackupWorks.com who said he had mostly sold HP drives for LTFS on Mac OS, but he couldn't give any more info. HP definitely seems to be the most common, but as you say, not officially updated. The IBM implementation seems better supported, but I've not been able to find anyone who's actually used it.

I'd really love to hear from other people here who have more experience.

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Joakim Ziegler - Postproduction Supervisor


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Peter Amies
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Oct 16, 2012 at 11:00:44 am

Hi Joakim,

Thought I'd update you on my LTO testing.

We ended up buying the IBM TS2250 half-height external SAS drive. The decision on vendor came down purely to IBM listing the most up-to-date Mac OS and 64-bit support. We've connected this to an Atto H680 SAS HBA in a new 6-core Mac Pro.

First issue was downgrading the Mac Pro OS to Lion. For all I know, the IBM LTFS implementation may work perfectly on Mountain Lion, but without officially listed support, I'm happy downgrading the OS. Quick and painless.

Installing the drivers etc. is relatively straightforward (although navigating IBM's support website to find versions newer than those on the shipped install CD is a pain). The drive already had the latest firmware, so no updates necessary there.

I did run into one big issue with drivers. Rather than using the version of OSXFuse that IBM provide in their LTFS install package (v2.3.8, which I guess was current when they released the latest LTFS update) I downloaded the latest version (v2.5.2) direct from the OSXFuse website. I was having massive issues with unmounting an LTO tape (the 'umount' operation would hang for 5-10 minutes before forcing the unmount without the index cache being written to tape, leaving the tape un-ejectable without a forced power reset on the drive). Turns out this is purely an issue with the latest OSXFuse version (apparently fixed already, and just awaiting the next version release). A simple downgrade to the IBM provided version (v2.3.8) or even v2.5.1 solves the issue perfectly.

So, after these minor headaches, everything seems to be working really well. It's a clean and simple operation. All activity is through Terminal (as with any LTFS system, you don't want to be interacting with the tape using Finder, as this will slow everything to a crawl) and with a little playing around and trying a few different commands ('cp' vs. 'rsync' for copying, for instance) I've found a workflow that I REALLY like.

For the couple of tapes I've written, I've pulled the data back off for a spot-check verification, and everything seems perfect.

Next issue to tackle is labeling and cataloguing of tapes and content (thank you AppleScript for making life a little easier, here).
:-)

Hope this is helpful. And for anyone looking at recent Mac LTFS support, I have no issue right now with recommending the IBM product.

Peter


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Joakim Ziegler
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Oct 19, 2012 at 3:32:58 pm

Peter, this sounds promising. I'd love to know more if/when you upgrade to Mountain Lion. How old is the IBM LTFS package? How often do they issue upgrades?

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Joakim Ziegler - Postproduction Supervisor


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Peter Amies
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Oct 19, 2012 at 3:37:58 pm

No plan to upgrade to Mountain Lion at the stage (at least not till there's official support from IBM). There's nothing in ML that I need for my work (notification centre and iCloud services don't really help me out in After Effects) so it's Lion for now.

The current IBM LTFS package was released 28 June. I wouldn't imagine a new package will be available till after LTO-6 is shipping.


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Joakim Ziegler
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Jan 19, 2013 at 11:46:58 pm

Just to pick this back up, LTO-6 is shipping and the IBM LTFS implementation lists LTO-6 drives as supported, but still no Mountain Lion support. Just wondering if you've had a chance to test Mountain Lion and LTFS.

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Joakim Ziegler - Postproduction Supervisor


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Peter Amies
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Jan 20, 2013 at 12:09:21 pm

No, unfortunately. But it's a working production system, so wasn't in a position to potentially break it with Mountain Lion.

Is the IBM LTFS release a new release to support LTO-6, or are they still using the old release on new hardware (which, as it's only the file-system driver, might be possible)? If it's a new release, I'm surprised they haven't invested the time to support current operating systems.


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Nathan Grout
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Aug 29, 2013 at 7:04:14 pm

[Peter Amies] "and with a little playing around and trying a few different commands ('cp' vs. 'rsync' for copying, for instance) I've found a workflow that I REALLY like."

I know this post hasn't been active in a few months, but could you elaborate on this? Which command do you use and why?

[Peter Amies] "I've pulled the data back off for a spot-check verification, and everything seems perfect."

When you spot-check, how do you verify the files? Are you using a checksum comparison application, or are you comparing file size? Something else?


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Peter Amies
Re: LTO drive recommendations for LTFS on MacOS
on Aug 30, 2013 at 10:32:51 am

Basic workflow looked something like this (apologies for not having exact steps, but I moved on from that job around 6 months ago):

1 - Prep files for archiving (remove invalid characters in filenames, etc.). Had a couple of custom scripts to do this.
2 - Format and mount the LTFS file-system.
3 - RSYNC data across, usually without any checksum cause it slows the process down horribly.
4 - Unmount and write protect the tape.
5 - Remount the tape to check file integrity.

Usually checking the file integrity involved copying everything back off the tape (overnight, cause it's still a slow process), comparing file sizes and opening a few bits of media to see it looked OK.

But I also played around with running a reverse RSYNC off the tape and back to the original source directory (using both checksum and test-mode flags in the RSYNC command, so no data was actually copied overwritten), just to see the RSYNC output and see if the operation would have resulted in any file transfer. I found this a really good way of checking the accuracy of the transfer.


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