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[dm-devel] Re: Shared snapshots


> I'd like to state that the point of the refactoring work was not to reduce the
> size of the code.  The point was to provide a clear and clean interface for
> all exception stores - new and old - and do it in a way that adheres to the
> principals of the general device-mapper target API.

First let me write about a possible arguments regarding "cleanness", 
"niceness" etc.

I think that what is really hapenning here is loss of reason.

In general, loss of reason is a cognitive bias that happens in the 
following scenario (not only in software engineering, but in other social 
situations as well):

* people want to reach goal G
* in order to reach the goal G, people do action A
* they do it thoroughly, consistently, over the long time
* now, "loss of reason", an error inside human brain happens: people start 
slowly forgetting about the goal G. And they start viewing the action A as 
being "good", "nice", "right", "the way it should be done"
* from this point on, people are doing action A even in situations when 
it damages the goal G
* people's performance decreases, they no longer attempt to reach real 
objective goals, all they want to reach is their own emotion of "niceness" 
inside their head.

Now, how does it apply to our snapshot development scenario?

* programmers want to reduce coding time and maintenance time (goal G)
* to reach this goal, programmers share their code, they sometimes 
refactor code to be better shareable (action A)
* it has been done consistently over the long time for various projects
* now people start considering sharing code and refactoring as "good", 
"clean", "the way software should be written" or whatever. They completely 
forgot about the initial goal that was there (save developers' time)
* and now we are refactoring the snapshot code even if increases our 
development time, it is not going to save the time in the future, but we 
consider this "right", "clean", "clear", "nice"

Are you getting it how these "universal"/"emotional"/"aesthetic" arguments 
not backed by anything are void?

Now, if we ignore the emotional stuff and look at it from the real point 
of view.

Is the refactored code saving development time now?
- it isn't. It already ate 5 months and it will just eat more before it 
gets functional.

Will the refactored code be saving maintenance time in the future?
- it won't. The code is as big as if the refactoring hadn't happened (and 
it'll be just bigger if you imeplement missing functionality).

Anyway, two smaller drivers are better maintainable than one big driver of 
the double size. A person who doesn't understand the code will have to 
read just half of the code to understand the logic if he wants to modify 
one of the smaller drivers. It also reduces testing time, if you modify 
one smaller driver, you are certain that the second driver is intact and 
don't have to test it.

Is your refactored code extensible to other exception stores?
- true. It is. But it was extensible even before refactoring. Before 
refactoring, one could write any exception store driver (either unshared 
or shared) and plug it into the unshared-master-driver or the 
shared-master-driver. All you did was to join the unshared-master-driver 
and the shared-master-driver to one chunk of code.

Any other advantages?

Regarding the bugs:
56MB origin, 160MB snapshot store (128MB of that are reserved for 
non-existing journal, so it will overflow). Run mkfs.reiserfs on the 
origin. Ends up with a lot of messages like this:
May  6 13:36:10 slunicko kernel: attempt to access beyond end of device
May  6 13:36:10 slunicko kernel: dm-5: rw=25, want=1048784, limit=327680
May  6 13:36:11 slunicko kernel: attempt to access beyond end of device
May  6 13:36:11 slunicko kernel: dm-5: rw=25, want=1376256, limit=327680
May  6 13:36:11 slunicko kernel: attempt to access beyond end of device
and the process stucks in "D" state in 
__wait_on_bit/wait_on_page_writeback_range. Vely likely the bio was lost 
somewhere and never returned with either error or success.

I have found a couple of bugs in Fujita/Daniel's exception store long 
time ago (when I was porting it to my driver), the most serious one I 
found was this:
@@ -510,7 +510,7 @@ static int read_new_bitmap_chunk(struct
        chunk_io(store, ss->cur_bitmap_chunk, WRITE, 1, ss->bitmap);

-       if (ss->cur_bitmap_chunk == ss->nr_bitmap_chunks)
+       if (ss->cur_bitmap_chunk == ss->nr_bitmap_chunks + FIRST_BITMAP_CHUNK)
                ss->cur_bitmap_chunk = FIRST_BITMAP_CHUNK;

        chunk_io(store, ss->cur_bitmap_chunk, READ, 1,  ss->bitmap);
... but it doesn't fix this problem. So there's something else.

Maybe the bad accesses could be due to endianity problems, I use sparc64. 
The lost bio can't be caused by endianity, this needs to be investigated.

Writable snapshots:
create an origin and two snapshots. Write to the origin (it creates shared 
chunk for both snapshots). Write to one of the snapshots to the same 
chunk. The write is lost. Read it again and the data is not there.

In this situation you need to copy the chunk from the snapshot store to 
the snapshot store (you can't copy it from the origin). I was looking for 
the code that handles these snapshot-to-snapshot copies, but I didn't find 
it. So the problem is not some silly typo that could be fixed with one 
line - the problem is that the code to handle it wasn't written.

> I tried to ensure that all necessary API functions were in place.  Like
> "suspend", which is not used by any of the legacy exception stores, but will
> be useful when it comes time to quiesce a shared exception store that may be
> performing a "delete" operation.

You can't do this. "delete" is a long-running operation, it needs to walk 
the whole tree. Stopping an exception store during delete is not 
acceptable on big devices. I have already implemented delete in the 
background, it goes step-by-step and blocks concurrent access only for 
these little steps, so it won't lock the computer up for minutes or hours. 
It can also batch multiple delete requests just into one tree-walk.

> Please note, that there probably won't be that much code sharing between
> exception store modules; but the snapshot code is completely agnostic to the
> type of exception store used.  This allows an infinite variety of exception
> stores without change to the snapshot code.  This is also nice because changes
> in the snapshot code should not require work in the exception stores and vise
> versa. Userspace code should also be reduced due to identical mechanisms used
> to communicate and operate snapshots with legacy or future exception stores -
> you need only change the constructor arguments.  Backwards compatibility is
> improved and the meaning of DM ioctls doesn't change depending on the target
> type.  It is a necessity that we have new exception stores, but I don't think
> that necessitates a new snapshot target - something which, I think, would
> increase our maintenance costs because we now support two entirely different
> snapshot implementations.
> We absolutely need your exception store - there is no question about that.  I

But it is not possible now. What it lacks:
- the snapshot ids are submitted by the user (in my implementation, the 
exception store itself must make the snapshot id, it is design thing that 
can't be changed)
- it lacks read-once-write-many copies (they are needed only on my store, 
not on Fujita-Daniel's store)
- it lacks snapshot-to-snapshot copies for writable snapshots (for 
Fujita-Daniel's code you need just one copy, for my code you need at most 
- it lacks the possibility to re-submit bios to the exception store to do 
more relocations after some of the relocations have been finished. (in 
extreme cases of many writes to the snapshots, there may be many 
relocations on my exception store --- it is no need to optimize for these 
cases, but they must be handled correctly).
- lame delete that blocks the whole device.

> agree with your complaints about the short-comings of the shared exception
> store that was ported to the interface (e.g. it has no journaling, 64 share
> limit before needing a new store, memory issues).  I ported the shared
> exception store to the interface (along with creating a cluster-aware
> exception store) so I could feel confident that I got the interface correct.
> The "shared" exception store should not be viewed as complete; even though I
> think the exception store interface is.  Please refrain from judging the API
> based on incompleteness in the implementation of one exception store.

This is not about lameness of Fujita's code. What I mean is that your 
interface is too tied on Fujita-Daniel's store. It is not just easy that 
you take my store and plug it in. It still needs many generic changes. It 
is not as beautiful as you described it that it is "completely agnostic to 
the type of exception store used". And I am concerned --- why spend more 
time making the changes, if generic driver that has them is already 

> [However, I have tested the "shared" exception store and did not suffer from
> the same problems you did.  I would be interested to have you fill me in on
> the problems you encountered - "doesn't support writable snapshots correctly,
> it deadlocks when the exception store overflows, it prints warnings about
> circular locking"].  I believe I have the interface correct, and I am not
> aware of changes that would have to be made to accommodate your exception
> store.
> I also think you have a number of great ideas in your higher level snapshot
> code.  I'd love to see these added to the current snapshot module.  I would
> even be willing to abandon the current snapshot module and make yours the only
> one in the kernel iff it adhered to the following principals:
> 1) It is completely agnostic to all legacy and future exception stores

My code does support all existing and possible future shared 
snapshots. It doesn't support non-shared snapshots. They are well 
implemented already and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

> (e.g.
> it should know nothing about snapid's and such, as this information aids in
> how/where an exception store places data - something that should be known only
> to the exception store implementation)  Without a clean break, the API is
> meaningless.

My code works in such a way that the kernel creates a snapid, it passes it 
to the userspace, the userspace is supposed to store the snapid in its lvm 
metadata and passes it back to the kernel. The userspace views the snapid 
as an opaque value --- it doesn't look at the snapid, it just passes it 
back and forth.

If you wanted to change it to uuids in the kernel, it is changeable.

> 2) The current meaning of DM ioctls is preserved.  We shouldn't have to
> create/resume a snapshot device and then use messages or other mechanisms to
> instantiate the shares.  This slippery slope leads us to a place where each
> target gets to choose its userspace interaction and the defined functions for
> that purpose become meaningless.

It is changeable to uuids if the kernel maintained uuid->snapid 
translation table in the exception store. It is possible, thought we must 
know why. "snapids are submitted by userspace" is not possible.

> Ultimately, I think the exception store API that I have put in place would be
> the glue between the upper snapshot layer and the lower exception store
> modules - whatever generation of these layers happens to exist.  I believe the
> API follows in the models laid down by the dm-raid1/log and
> multipath/read-balance interfaces.  I think this API is a natural and
> necessary progression.
> I would also take issue with the fact that if the code size is increased, it
> decreases maintainability.  I think maintainability is improved with the clean
> separation of snapshot code and exception store modules; just as I think
> maintainability is improved by having a file system switch that separates the
> different file systems and provides a clean method for them to communicate
> with higher layers.
> I welcome further thoughts,
> brassow

Why don't do this refactoring and why not have common driver for shared 
and non-shared exception store? - it already took 5 months, it is still 
incomplete and needs non-trivial changes to be at least as functional as 
if this hadn't happened at all.

If you're still thinking about "cleanness", read the first paragraph about 
loss of reason again. Back into reality --- if you spend 5 months 
shuffling code around without adding any functionality it is only 
reasonable to do it if it will save more than 5 months in the long term. 
And it won't.

It is no shame, it occasionaly happens to anyone. To me it happened on 
other projects too that I had these feelings "wow, it will be super clean 
and easy" and when I got into typing the code, it turned out that it is 
much more time-consuming that I anticipated. And when it happend to me, I 
erased the code and changed my perception of "cleanness" - it's the only 
thing one can do.


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