[Gluster-devel] regressions due to 64-bit ext4 directory cookies

Theodore Ts'o tytso at mit.edu
Wed Feb 13 22:20:52 UTC 2013

On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 01:21:06PM -0800, Anand Avati wrote:
> NFS uses the term cookies, while man pages of readdir/seekdir/telldir calls
> them "offsets". 

Unfortunately, telldir and seekdir are part of the "unspeakable Unix
design horrors" which has been with us for 25+ years.  To quote from
the rationale section from the Single Unix Specification v3 (there is
similar language in the Posix spec).

    The original standard developers perceived that there were
    restrictions on the use of the seekdir() and telldir() functions
    related to implementation details, and for that reason these
    functions need not be supported on all POSIX-conforming
    systems. They are required on implementations supporting the XSI

    One of the perceived problems of implementation is that returning
    to a given point in a directory is quite difficult to describe
    formally, in spite of its intuitive appeal, when systems that use
    B-trees, hashing functions, or other similar mechanisms to order
    their directories are considered. The definition of seekdir() and
    telldir() does not specify whether, when using these interfaces, a
    given directory entry will be seen at all, or more than once.

    On systems not supporting these functions, their capability can
    sometimes be accomplished by saving a filename found by readdir()
    and later using rewinddir() and a loop on readdir() to relocate
    the position from which the filename was saved.

Telldir() and seekdir() are basically implementation horrors for any
file system that is using anything other than a simple array of
directory entries ala the V7 Unix file system or the BSD FFS.  For any
file system which is using a more advanced data structure, like
b-trees hash trees, etc, there **can't** possibly be a "offset" into a
readdir stream.  This is why ext3/ext4 uses a telldir cookie, and it's
why the NFS specifications refer to it as a cookie.  If you are using
a modern file system, it can't possibly be an offset.

> You can always say "this is your fault" for interpreting the man pages
> differently and punish us by leaving things as they are (and unfortunately
> a big chunk of users who want both ext4 and gluster jeapordized). Or you
> can be kind, generous and be considerate to the legacy apps and users (of
> which gluster is only a subset) and only provide a mount option to control
> the large d_off behavior.

The problem is that we made this change to fix real problems that take
place when you have hash collisions.  And if you are using a 31-bit
cookie, the birthday paradox means that by the time you have a
directory with 2**16 entries, the chances of hash collisions are very
real.  This could result in NFS readdir getting stuck in loops where
it constantly gets the file "foo.c", and then when it passes the
31-bit cookie for "bar.c", since there is a hash collision, it gets
"foo.c" again, and the readdir never terminates.

So the problem is that you are effectively asking me to penalize
well-behaved programs that don't try to steel bits from the top of the
telldir cookie, just for the benefit of gluster.

What if we have an ioctl or a process personality flag where a broken
application can tell the file system "I'm broken, please give me a
degraded telldir/seekdir cookie"?  That way we don't penalize programs
that are doing the right thing, while providing some accomodation for
programs who are abusing the telldir cookie.

					- Ted

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