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Re: How to generate a large file allocating space

--On 31 October 2010 10:23:51 -0500 Bruno Wolff III <bruno wolff to> wrote:

On Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 11:12:41 +0100,
  Alex Bligh <alex alex org uk> wrote:
I want to generate or extend a large file in an ext4 filesystem
allocating space (i.e. not creating a sparse file) but not actually
writing any data. I realise that this will result in the file containing
the contents of whatever was there on the disk before, which is a
possible security problem in some circumstances, but it isn't a problem

There isn't going to be a way to do that through the file system, because
as you note it is a security problem.

What is the high level thing you are trying to accomplish here? Modifying
the filesystem offline seems risky and maybe there is a safer way to
accomplish your goals.

I am trying to allocate huge files on ext4. I will then read the extents
within the file and write to the disk at a block level rather than using
ext4 (the FS will not be mounted at this point). This will allow me to
have several iSCSI clients hitting the same LUN r/w safely. And at
some point when I know the relevant iSCSI stuff has stopped and been
flushed to disk, I may unlink the file.

As I have total control of what's on the disk, I don't really care
if previous content is exposed. If I write many Gigabyets of zeroes,
that's going to take a long time, and be totally unnecessary, since
I already have my own internal map of the data I will write into these
huge files.

Yes, I know this is deep scary voodoo, but that's ok. I can get the
extent list the same way as "filefrag -v" gets it. What I can't
currently work out (using either the library, or doing it with the
volume mounted) is how to extend a file AND allocate the extents
(as opposed to doing it sparse).

Supplementary question: can I assume that if a non-sparse file is on disk
and never opened, and never unlinked, then the sectors used to to store
that file's data will never change irrespective of other operations on
the ext4 filesystem? IE nothing is shuffling where ext4 files are stored.

I think SSDs will move stuff around at a very low level. They would look
like they are at the same place to stuff access the device like a disk,
but physically would be stored in a different hardware location.

With normal disks, you'd only see this if the device got a read error, but
was able to successfully read a marginal sector and remap it to a spare
sector. But again, stuff talking to the disk will see it at the same

Sure, that's no problem because the offset into the block device stays
the same, even if physically the file is in a different place. So the
extent list will stay the same for the file.

Alex Bligh

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