Configure Ubuntu Cluster and Availability Group Resource

This document explains how to create a three-node cluster on Ubuntu and add a previously created availability group as a resource in the cluster. For high availability, an availability group on Linux requires three nodes - see High availability and data protection for availability group configurations.


At this point, SQL Server's integration with Pacemaker on Linux is not as coupled as with WSFC on Windows. From within SQL, there is no knowledge about the presence of the cluster, all orchestration is outside in and the service is controlled as a standalone instance by Pacemaker. Also, virtual network name is specific to WSFC, there is no equivalent of the same in Pacemaker. Always On dynamic management views that query cluster information will return empty rows. You can still create a listener to use it for transparent reconnection after failover, but you will have to manually register the listener name in the DNS server with the IP used to create the virtual IP resource (as explained below).

The following sections walk through the steps to set up a failover cluster solution.


The steps to create an availability group on Linux servers for high availability are different from the steps on a Windows Server failover cluster. The following list describes the high level steps:

  1. Configure SQL Server on the cluster nodes.

  2. Create the availability group.

  3. Configure a cluster resource manager, like Pacemaker. These instructions are in this document.

    The way to configure a cluster resource manager depends on the specific Linux distribution.


    Production environments require a fencing agent, like STONITH for high availability. The demonstrations in this documentation do not use fencing agents. The demonstrations are for testing and validation only.

    A Linux cluster uses fencing to return the cluster to a known state. The way to configure fencing depends on the distribution and the environment. At this time, fencing is not available in some cloud environments. See Support Policies for RHEL High Availability Clusters - Virtualization Platforms for more information.

  4. Add the availability group as a resource in the cluster.

Install and configure Pacemaker on each cluster node

  1. On all nodes open the firewall ports. Open the port for the Pacemaker high-availability service, SQL Server instance, and the availability group endpoint. The default TCP port for server running SQL Server is 1433.

    sudo ufw allow 2224/tcp
    sudo ufw allow 3121/tcp
    sudo ufw allow 21064/tcp
    sudo ufw allow 5405/udp
    sudo ufw allow 1433/tcp # Replace with TDS endpoint
    sudo ufw allow 5022/tcp # Replace with DATA_MIRRORING endpoint
    sudo ufw reload

    Alternatively, you can just disable the firewall:

    sudo ufw disable
  2. Install Pacemaker packages. On all nodes, run the following commands:

    sudo apt-get install pacemaker pcs fence-agents resource-agents
  3. Set the password for the default user that is created when installing Pacemaker and Corosync packages. Use the same password on all nodes.

    sudo passwd hacluster

Enable and start pcsd service and Pacemaker

The following command enables and starts pcsd service and pacemaker. Run on all nodes. This allows the nodes to rejoin the cluster after reboot.

sudo systemctl enable pcsd
sudo systemctl start pcsd
sudo systemctl enable pacemaker

Enable pacemaker command will complete with the error 'pacemaker Default-Start contains no runlevels, aborting.' This is harmless, cluster configuration can continue. We are following up with cluster vendors for fixing this issue.

Create the Cluster

  1. Remove any existing cluster configuration from all nodes.

    Running 'sudo apt-get install pcs' installs pacemaker, corosync, and pcs at the same time and starts running all 3 of the services. Starting corosync generates a template '/etc/cluster/corosync.conf' file. To have next steps succeed this file should not exist – so the workaround is to stop pacemaker / corosync and delete '/etc/cluster/corosync.conf', and then next steps will complete successfully. 'pcs cluster destroy' does the same thing, and you can use it as a one time initial cluster setup step.

    The following command removes any existing cluster configuration files and stops all cluster services. This permanently destroys the cluster. Run it as a first step in a pre-production environment. Note that 'pcs cluster destroy' disabled the pacemaker service and needs to be reenabled. Run the following command on all nodes.


    The command will destroy any existing cluster resources.

    sudo pcs cluster destroy 
    sudo systemctl enable pacemaker
  2. Create the cluster.


    Due to a known issue that the clustering vendor is investigating, starting the cluster ('pcs cluster start') will fail with below error. This is because the log file configured in /etc/corosync/corosync.conf is wrong. To workaround this issue, change the log file to: /var/log/corosync/corosync.log. Alternatively you could create the /var/log/cluster/corosync.log file.

    Job for corosync.service failed because the control process exited with error code. 
    See "systemctl status corosync.service" and "journalctl -xe" for details.

The following command creates a three-node cluster. Before you run the script, replace the values between **< ... >**. Run the following command on the primary node.

sudo pcs cluster auth **<node1>** **<node2>** **<node3>** -u hacluster -p **<password for hacluster>**
sudo pcs cluster setup --name **<clusterName>** **<node1>** **<node2…>** **<node3>**
sudo pcs cluster start --all

If you previously configured a cluster on the same nodes, you need to use '--force' option when running 'pcs cluster setup'. Note this is equivalent to running 'pcs cluster destroy' and pacemaker service needs to be reenabled using 'sudo systemctl enable pacemaker'.

Configure fencing (STONITH)

Pacemaker cluster vendors require STONITH to be enabled and a fencing device configured for a supported cluster setup. When the cluster resource manager cannot determine the state of a node or of a resource on a node, fencing is used to bring the cluster to a known state again. Resource level fencing ensures mainly that there is no data corruption in case of an outage by configuring a resource. You can use resource level fencing, for instance, with DRBD (Distributed Replicated Block Device) to mark the disk on a node as outdated when the communication link goes down. Node level fencing ensures that a node does not run any resources. This is done by resetting the node and the Pacemaker implementation of it is called STONITH (which stands for "shoot the other node in the head"). Pacemaker supports a great variety of fencing devices, e.g. an uninterruptible power supply or management interface cards for servers. For more details, see Pacemaker Clusters from Scratch and Fencing and Stonith

Because the node level fencing configuration depends heavily on your environment, we will disable it for this tutorial (it can be configured at a later time). Run the following script on the primary node:

sudo pcs property set stonith-enabled=false

Disabling STONITH is just for testing purposes. If you plan to use Pacemaker in a production environment, you should plan a STONITH implementation depending on your environment and keep it enabled. Note that at this point there are no fencing agents for any cloud environments (including Azure) or Hyper-V. Consequentially, the cluster vendor does not offer support for running production clusters in these environments. We are working on a solution for this gap that will be available in future releases.

Set cluster property start-failure-is-fatal to false

start-failure-is-fatal indicates whether a failure to start a resource on a node prevents further start attempts on that node. When set to false, the cluster will decide whether to try starting on the same node again based on the resource's current failure count and migration threshold. So, after failover occurs, Pacemaker will retry starting the availability group resource on the former primary once the SQL instance is available. Pacemaker will demote the replica to secondary and it will automatically rejoin the availability group.

To update the property value to false run the following script:

sudo pcs property set start-failure-is-fatal=false

After an automatic failover, when start-failure-is-fatal = true the resource manager will attempt to start the resource. If it fails on the first attempt you have to manually run pcs resource cleanup <resourceName> to cleanup the resource failure count and reset the configuration.

Install SQL Server resource agent for integration with Pacemaker

Run the following commands on all nodes.

sudo apt-get install mssql-server-ha

Create a SQL Server login for Pacemaker

  1. On all SQL Servers, create a Server login for Pacemaker. The following Transact-SQL creates a login:

    USE [master]
    CREATE LOGIN [pacemakerLogin] with PASSWORD= N'ComplexP@$$w0rd!'
    ALTER SERVER ROLE [sysadmin] ADD MEMBER [pacemakerLogin]

    Alternatively, you can set the permissions at a more granular level. The Pacemaker login requires ALTER, CONTROL, and VIEW DEFINITION PERMISSION. For more information, see GRANT Availability Group Permissions (Transact-SQL).

    The following Transact-SQL grants only the required permission to the Pacemaker login. In the statement below 'ag1' is the name of the availability group that will be added as a cluster resource.

  2. On all SQL Servers, save the credentials for the SQL Server login.

    echo 'pacemakerLogin' >> ~/pacemaker-passwd
    echo 'ComplexP@$$w0rd!' >> ~/pacemaker-passwd
    sudo mv ~/pacemaker-passwd /var/opt/mssql/secrets/passwd
    sudo chown root:root /var/opt/mssql/secrets/passwd
    sudo chmod 400 /var/opt/mssql/secrets/passwd # Only readable by root

Create availability group resource

To create the availability group resource, use pcs resource create command and set the resource properties. Below command creates a ocf:mssql:ag master/slave type resource for availability group with name ag1.

sudo pcs resource create ag_cluster ocf:mssql:ag ag_name=ag1 --master meta notify=true

When you create the resource, and periodically afterwards, the Pacemaker resource agent automatically sets the value of REQUIRED_SYNCHRONIZED_SECONDARIES_TO_COMMIT on the availability group based on the availability group's configuration. For example, if the availability group has three synchronous replicas, the agent will set REQUIRED_SYNCHRONIZED_SECONDARIES_TO_COMMIT to 1. For details and additional configuration options, see High availability and data protection for availability group configurations.

Create virtual IP resource

To create the virtual IP address resource, run the following command on one node. Use an available static IP address from the network. Before you run the script, replace the values between **< ... >** with a valid IP address.

sudo pcs resource create virtualip ocf:heartbeat:IPaddr2 ip=**<>**

There is no virtual server name equivalent in Pacemaker. To use a connection string that points to a string server name and not use the IP address, register the IP resource address and desired virtual server name in DNS. For DR configurations, register the desired virtual server name and IP address with the DNS servers on both primary and DR site.

Add colocation constraint

Almost every decision in a Pacemaker cluster, like choosing where a resource should run, is done by comparing scores. Scores are calculated per resource, and the cluster resource manager chooses the node with the highest score for a particular resource. (If a node has a negative score for a resource, the resource cannot run on that node.) We can manipulate the decisions of the cluster with constraints. Constraints have a score. If a constraint has a score lower than INFINITY, it is only a recommendation. A score of INFINITY means it is a must. We want to ensure that primary of the availability group and the virtual ip resource are run on the same host, so we will define a colocation constraint with a score of INFINITY. To add the colocation constraint, run the following command on one node.

sudo pcs constraint colocation add virtualip ag_cluster-master INFINITY with-rsc-role=Master

Add ordering constraint

The colocation constraint has an implicit ordering constraint. It moves the virtual IP resource before it moves the availability group resource. By default the sequence of events is:

  1. User issues pcs resource move to the availability group primary from node1 to node2.
  2. The virtual IP resource stops on node1.
  3. The virtual IP resource starts on node2.


    At this point, the IP address temporarily points to node2 while node2 is still a pre-failover secondary.

  4. The availability group primary on node1 is demoted to secondary.

  5. The availability group secondary on node2 is promoted to primary.

To prevent the IP address from temporarily pointing to the node with the pre-failover secondary, add an ordering constraint.

To add an ordering constraint, run the following command on one node:

sudo pcs constraint order promote ag_cluster-master then start virtualip

After you configure the cluster and add the availability group as a cluster resource, you cannot use Transact-SQL to fail over the availability group resources. SQL Server cluster resources on Linux are not coupled as tightly with the operating system as they are on a Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC). SQL Server service is not aware of the presence of the cluster. All orchestration is done through the cluster management tools. In RHEL or Ubuntu use pcs.

Next steps

Operate HA availability group