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Galera cluster wsrep-sst-method docs states:

You can only use rsync when anode is starting. You cannot use it with a running InnoDB storage engine.

I do have InnoDB storage engine configured in MariaDB Galera cluster and the wsrep-sst-method is set to rsync and state transfers do happen on starting nodes.

What's wrong with this configuration? Is xtrabackup the only wsrep-sst-method to be used with innodb storage engine?

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Is xtrabackup the only wsrep-sst-method to be used with innodb storage engine?

All Galera clusters are InnoDB, MyISAM (and derivates) not supported (expect mysql database with wrappers for managing users/permissions).

No, nothing wrong with your configuration. You can use Logical State Snapshot mysqldump or the Physical State Snapshot rsync and xtrabackup. See State Snapshot Transfers for a comparison.

A physical restore always needs a restart. The same concept like backup/restore.

In normal operations only IST is needed. SST is only needed when something goes wrong (maybe infrastructure issue) and the node is out-of-sync. Mostly the DBA cares about such cases.

  • State Snapshot Transfers (SST) Where a snapshot of the entire node state transfers.

  • Incremental State Transfers (IST) Where only the missing transactions transfer.

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    MariaDB (10.1.26+, 10.2.10) also has the wsrep_sst_methods option 'mariabackup', which uses the MariaDB Backup package, which is a fork of Percona XtraBackup.
    – dbdemon
    Mar 20, 2018 at 11:54

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