[linux-lvm] Snapshots of snapshots are not supported yet

markw at mohawksoft.com markw at mohawksoft.com
Wed Jul 10 14:45:54 UTC 2013

> Dne 10.7.2013 05:45, markw at mohawksoft.com napsal(a):
>> One more annoying question, if you have the patience.
>> Suppose I create a thin provisioned volume, say disk0.
>> I take a snapshot of disk0 and name it disk0_snap0
>> After a number of changes I then take another snapshot, and call it
>> disk0_snap1
>> Is the thin provisioning stuff smart enough to realize that disk0_snap0
>> should be rewired to reference disk0_snap1 as its origin? It would look
>> like this:
>> disk0 -> disk0_snap1 -> disk0_snap0
>> What I would like to see is something like this:
>> disk0 -> disk0_snap2 -> disk0_snap1 -> disk0_snap0
>> Create disk0_snap3
>> disk0 -> disk0_snap3 -> disk0_snap2 -> disk0_snap1 -> disk0_snap0
>> Where all writes to disk0 result in CoW to disk0_snap3 and the remaining
>> snaps remain unchanged.
>> Here is the kicker, I want to perform a differential backup on
>> disk0_snap3
>> and disk0_snap2.  Suppose I already recreated disk0_snap2 on some
>> server.
>> I now want to update it to disk0_snap3. I need to get a block list from
>> disk0_snap2 and disk0_snap3, then generate a list of blocks needed to
>> permute snap2 to snap3.
>> Any info?
> Yes - differential snapshot will be supported through thin provisioning
> target - where you will be able to make a simple diff just by reading
> metadata - it will be essential piece of replication.

Is any of this in place now?

> AFAIK Joe has this in plan for some time - and there was even some
> announcement from some third-party developer to support this.

Do you have a link?

> There is not going to be any upstream support for doing this with
> old-snaps in foreseeable future.
> Also keep in mind your idea of using old-snap of snap of snap would be
> very
> slow and fragile to use.

Well, the reason I am pursuing this.....

At a previous employment a few years back, I created a system using LVM2,
old style snapshots, and FUSE to create this functionality.

Using my previous example as a reference

disk0 would always have one live snapshot to maintain diffs, call it

When I wanted to save a point in time, I would take a new snapshot, say

I would deactivate disk0_snap_root and save it off. It is important to
create disk0_snap_tmp BEFORE you deactivate disk0_snap_root, of course.

Then rename disk0_snap_tmp to disk0_snap_root.

The saved off snap file has all the changes from the time it was created
until the time the new snapshot is created.

I implemented all the volume chaining in FUSE and could present versions
of the device. The system even had its own virtual device management
system so that read/write copies could be made by looking back at the snap
files. Essentially, I had to write a lot of what device mapper already
does in FUSE.

You know the obvious limitations to this strategy, but still, it worked
pretty well.

I need to implement similar behavior at a new employer and really really
want not to use FUSE and rewrite all that crap again and am trying to see
how to get it done using the device mapper layer. Also this is going to be
for a product that is expected to ship to customers in the relatively near

Any information or insight you can share would be much appreciated. I am
beginning to suspect that LVM will not be usable for the project.

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