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SubjectRe: Editing-in-place of a large file
Ingo Oeser [] wrote:
> On Sun, Sep 02, 2001 at 05:59:38PM -0700, Larry McVoy wrote:
> > > What's needed is a generalisation of sparse files and truncate().
> > > They both handle similar problems.
> >
> > how about
> >
> > fzero(int fd, off_t off, size_t len)
> > fdelete(int fd, off_t off, size_t len)
> and
> finsert(int fd, off_t off, size_t len, void *buf, size_t buflen)
> > The main problem with this is if the off/len are not block aligned. If they
> > are, then this is just block twiddling, if they aren't, then this is a file
> > rewrite anyway.

*exactly* I don't know enough about ext2fs to know if this is possible
(i.e. a partially filled block in the middle of a file) so that's why I

> Another solution for the original problem is to rewrite the file
> in-place by coping from the end of the gap to the beginning of
> the gap until the gap is shifted to the end of the file and thus
> can be left to ftruncate().

For editing commercials, you'd still have to copy 90% of the data. In
the US, there's roughly 5 minutes of commercials for every 15 of the
show, so that would only save copying the first 15 minutes...

> This will at least not require more space on disk, but will take
> quite a while and risk data corruption for this file in case of
> abortion.

Yep. I should mention that the Linux/mjpeg tools
( already have an elegant way of "marking"
a portion of a video and skipping it when playing it, through the use of
"edit lists". (use xlav/glav to mark it, and then you can lavplay the
edit list, which just contains the start/end of skipped sections) They
also have a program to apply the edit list and create a new video
(lavtrans). But this requires copying the desired sections of video to
a new file, which requires 75% more disk space than the original file,
and takes a looong time.

The idea behind my first message should be obvious almost
atomic operation modifying at most 2 blocks (and marking a bunch as
free) wouldn't require nearly as much disk-thrashing, and would be
nearly instantaneous from the user's perspective.

Disk fragmentation is unimportant when the contiguous chunks are 300MB

> But fzero, fdelete and finsert might be worth considering, since
> some file systems, which pack tails could also pack these kind of
> partial used blocks and handle them properly.

Do the journaling filesystems use blocks in a similar manner to ext2fs?
Anyone know if any of them can handle partially filled blocks in the
middle of a file?

Are there any media-filesystems out there that have these kinds of
extensions? I'm not sure these extensions would be useful for anything
but editing media...

> We already handle partial pages, so why not handle them with
> offset/size pairs and enable this mechanisms? Multi media streams
> would love these kind of APIs ;-)

Yep yep yep. What do multimedia people use? Custom multi-thousand
dollar programs with their own filesystem layer? What about TiVo?
Didn't they contribute some fs-layer modifications a while back?

-- Bob

Bob McElrath (
Univ. of Wisconsin at Madison, Department of Physics
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