[OpenWrt-Devel] [RFC] Pre-seeded files/directories for UBIFS

Florian Fainelli f.fainelli at gmail.com
Sat May 20 14:39:33 EDT 2017


On 05/20/2017 09:12 AM, Richard Weinberger wrote:
> Hi!
> These days I had an interesting discussion with Christoph about overlayfs and
> its burden. The main use-case of overlayfs in combination with UBIFS is having a
> squashfs as lower and UBIFS as upper directory. Such that all changes to the
> read-only squashfs go into UBIFS. Upon a factory reset all files within the
> UBIFS will be removed  and the merged directory is clean again. Christoph argued
> that such a functionality  could be achieved without overlayfs if the filesystem
> supported something like pre-seeded  files or directories. This would lower
> memory pressure and complexity.

As you may know, OpenWrt/LEDE have been using this scheme for many years
now (before it was named overlayfs, this was called mini fanout overlay
~10 yrs ago) with squashfs + jffs2 before on P-NOR flashes. There are
still devices like those that benefit from squashfs(ro)+jffs2(rw), so
while bringing a similar functionality using UBIFS exclusively would be
interesting, it would still make Linux distribution want to support a
more generic scheme which is using overlayfs as well.

> Today I had a thought about this and I'm pretty sure we can implement this in
> UBIFS with not too much effort. The basic idea is marking files or whole
> directories as seed upon mkfs.ubifs time.
> If these files will be changed at run-time, the original contents will stay on
> the medium and at any time these files can be reverted back to their seed state.
> This includes file contents, attributes and extended attributes. I can think of
> an UBIFS specific IOCTL to put files into seed state and to revert them again.
> Since UBIFS is already a pure copy-on-write filesystem, all we have to do is
> teaching the index tree about seeds. We could add a flag to the UBIFS key which
> indicates that the node behind this key is seeded.
> i.e. file "foo" is seeded and the corresponding inode number is 0x1234,
> then every key of every UBIFS node that belongs to that file will wear the new
> ubifs_ino_node: 0x1234 | UBIFS_INO_KEY | UBIFS_SEED_KEY
> ubifs_data_node: 0x1234 | <BLOCK_NO> | UBIFS_DATA_KEY | UBIFS_SEED_KEY
> The inode itself will have a flag which denotes whether this file is seeded and
> whether some modifications have happened. This will allow us to lookup directly
> in the index tree with UBIFS_SEED_KEY set or no. Otherwise we'd have to do two
> lookups every time.
> If a seeded node faces a modification it will stay referenced in the index tree
> and a copy without UBIFS_SEED_KEY is made. Upon next lookup the new node will
> be used automatically. Reverting to the original state means purging all nodes
> that don't have the UBIFS_SEED_KEY flag.
> There are corner cases to consider, mostly for lookup of data nodes.
> Currently a missing data node denotes a hole in a file.
> With seeded files a missing data node can also mean that we need to fall back
> to a UBIFS_SEED_KEY lookup.
> Storing UBIFS_SEED_KEY itself into the UBIFS key is also not trivial since
> almost all bits of the 32bit tuple are in use. But I'm sure we find some way
> to encode it.
> Another thing to consider are seeded directory entries. This requires us to
> implement our own whiteout mechanism. But this could also be re-used for
> overlayfs whiteouts.
> That said, I consider this feature as doable but not trivial.
> Artem, Adrian, you designed UBIFS, what do you think?
> Maybe I missed some major show-stopper. :)
> Thanks,
> //richard
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