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#66 in Unix APIs

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MPL-2.0 license



A library wrapping Linux's devicemapper ioctls (does not use libdm).

Development status

BETA, feature complete but needs testing.


API Documentation.

Devicemapper Documentation

How to contribute

GitHub is used for pull requests and issue tracking.


Mozilla Public License 2.0


Low-level devicemapper configuration of the running kernel.


Linux's devicemapper allows the creation of block devices whose storage is mapped to other block devices in useful ways, either by changing the location of its data blocks, or performing some operation on the data itself. This is a low-level facility that is used by higher-level volume managers such as LVM2. Uses may include:

  • Dividing a large block device into smaller logical volumes (dm-linear)
  • Combining several separate block devices into a single block device with better performance and/or redundancy (dm-raid)
  • Encrypting a block device (dm-crypt)
  • Performing Copy-on-Write (COW) allocation of a volume's blocks enabling fast volume cloning and snapshots (dm-thin)
  • Configuring a smaller, faster block device to act as a cache for a larger, slower one (dm-cache)
  • Verifying the contents of a read-only volume (dm-verity)


Before they can be used, DM devices must be created using DM::device_create(), have a mapping table loaded using DM::table_load(), and then activated with DM::device_suspend(). (This function is used for both suspending and activating a device.) Once activated, they can be used as a regular block device, including having other DM devices map to them.

Devices have "active" and "inactive" mapping tables. See function descriptions for which table they affect.

Polling for Events

Since DM minor version 37, first available in Linux kernel 4.14, the file descriptor associated with a DM context may be polled for events generated by DM devices.

The fd will indicate POLLIN if any events have occurred on any DM devices since the fd was opened, or since DM::arm_poll() was called. Therefore, in order to determine which DM devices have generated an event, the following usage is required:

  1. Create a DM.
  2. Call DM::list_devices() and track the event_nrs for any DM devices of interest.
  3. poll() on the DM's file descriptor, obtained by calling DM::file().as_raw_fd().
  4. If the fd indicates activity, first clear the event by calling DM::arm_poll(). This must be done before event processing to ensure events are not missed.
  5. Process events. Call DM::list_devices() again, and compare event_nr returned by the more recent call with event_nr values from the earlier call. If event_nr differs, an event has occurred on that specific device. Handle the event(s). Update the list of last-seen event_nrs.
  6. Optionally loop and re-invoke poll() on the fd to wait for more events.


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