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SubjectRe: silent semantic changes with reiser4
Hans Reiser wrote:
> Will Dyson wrote:
>> In the original BeOS, they solved the problem by having the filesystem
>> driver itself take a text query string and parse it, returning a list
>> of inodes that match. The whole business of parsing a query string in
>> the kernel (let alone in the filesystem driver) has always seemed ugly
>> to me.
> Why?

Hmm. Trying to explain aesthetic judgments is always fun, but I'll try.

String parsing bloats the kernel with code that will be called rarely,
and doing it inside the filesystem module makes for duplicate code if
more than one filesystem does it. But a good common parser routine (or a
kernel api that takes a pre-compiled parse tree) would reduce the bad taste.

The real objection I have is that it puts the kernel in the position of
doing more work than it has to for the system to operate correctly and
efficiently. The user wants to know what files match a certain set of
criteria. The filesystem provides special features which can greatly
accelerate some searches. Does it make more sense to move the
functionality of /usr/bin/find into the kernel, or to export the index
information so that an enhanced version of find can make use of it?

I don't think having find in the kernel would be worth the cost or

However, now that I've had to think about it while writing the above, it
occurs to me that if we wanted to offer something like the beos's live
queries, doing it in the kernel might be the way to go.

For the 99.9% of people who were not beos users back in the day, the
"live query" was a way to register a query string with the kernel, so
that you got notifications when the list of files matching the query
changed. It was pretty cool, but this is really just blue-skying since I
am not stepping up to write such a beast any time soon.

>> However, the best alternative I've come up with is to simply export
>> the index data as a special file (perhaps in sysfs?) and have
>> userspace responsible for searching the index.
> That is the best implementation suggestion I've heard for splitting the
> filesystem into two parts, one in user space and one in kernel, but I
> still don't trust it to work well.

Why not? And if it really splits the filesystem into two parts depends
on which of the two following statements you agree with more:

"Fast searching is a feature of the filesystem"
"Maintaining indexes is a feature of the filesystem"

The file-as-directory attribute/stream/whatever model is a much better
fit for befs's internals than the xattr api. If the kernel supported it,
I would enable support for it in befs.

Will Dyson
"Back off man, I'm a scientist!" -Dr. Peter Venkman
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