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SubjectRe: silent semantic changes with reiser4
On Tue, Sep 07, 2004 at 01:55:32PM +0200, Christer Weinigel wrote:
> David Masover <> writes:
> > |>Second, there are quite a few things which I might want to do, which can
> > |>be done with this interface and without patching programs,
> > | Such as?
> > They've been mentioned.
> > | Haven't seen any that made sense to me, sorry.
> > Sorry if they don't make sense to you, but I don't feel like discussing
> > them now. Either you get it or you don't, either you agree or you
> > don't. Read the archives.
> Great argument. Not. There has been so much shit thrown around here
> so that it's impossible to keep track of all examples.
> Could you please try summarize a few of the arguments that you find
> especially compelling? This thread has gotten very confused since
> there are a bunch of different subjects all being intermixed here.
> What are we discussing?
> 1. Do we want support for named streams?
> I belive the answer is yes, since both NTFS and HFS (that's the
> MacOS filesystem, isn't it?) supports streams we want Linux to
> support this if possible.

well, yes HFS has this, is it advantageous, no
it's kind of heritage ...

> Anyone disagreeing?

yes, MacOS X allows to use UFS instead of HFS+
which doesn't support the fancy/confusing streams

I, for my part, do not like the idea of multiple
streams for one file, IMHO all features can be
provided by using directories instead, which does
not break any userspace tools _and_ sounds natural
to me ...


> 2. How do we want to expose named streams?
> One suggestion is file-as-directory in some form.
> Another suggestion made is to expose named streams somewhere under
> /proc/self/fd.
> Yet another suggestion is to use the openat(3) API from solaris.
> Some filesystems exposes extra data in a special directory in the
> same directory as the file, such as netapps .snapshot directories
> or the extra directories that netatalk expects. This has the
> advantage that it even works on non-named stream capable
> filesystems, but it has a lot of problems too.
> Linux already has limited support for names streams via the xattr
> interface, but it's not a good interface for people wanting to
> have large files as named streams.
> 4. What belongs in the generic VFS, what belongs in Reiser4?
> Some things reiser4 do, such as files-as-directories need changes
> to the VFS because it breaks assumptions that the VFS makes
> (i.e. a deadlock or an oops when doing a hard link out of one).
> Some other things reiser4 can do would be better if they were in
> the VFS since other filesystems might want to support the same
> functionality.
> Or Linux may not support some of the things reiserfs at all.
> 5. What belongs in the kernel, what belongs in userspace?
> This is mostly what I have been trying to argue about.
> So, to try to summarize my opinion, regarding file-as-directory, I
> belive it's fatally flawed because it breaks a lot of assumptions that
> existing code make. One example of an application that will break is
> a web server that tries to filter out accesses to "bad" files,
> files-as-directories suddenly means that part of those files will be
> accessible (and there are a _lot_ of CERT reports on just this kind of
> problems with Windows web servers due to access to named streams not
> being restricted or ways to access files with non-canonical names that
> also managed to bypass access restrictions).
> Files-as-directories also does not give us named streams on
> directories. The suggestion to have dir/metas access the named
> streams means that if someone already has a file named metas in a
> directory that file will be lost. (Does anyone remember the
> discussions about the linux kernel having a directory named "core" and
> the problems this caused for some people?)
> All this suggests to me that named streams must live in another
> namespace than the normal one. To me, openat(3) seems like a good
> choice for an API and it has the advantage that someone else, Solaris,
> already has implemented it.
> Additionally, files-as-directores does not solve the problem of
> "cp a b" losing named streams. There is curently no copyfile syscall
> in the Linux kernel, "cp a b" essentially does "cat a >b". So unless
> cp is modified we don't gain anything. If cp is modified to know
> about named streams, it really does not matter if named streams are
> accessed as file-as-directories, via openat(3) or via a shared library
> with some other interface.
> Regarding the kernel or userspace discussion. In my opinion anything
> that can be done in user space should be done in userspace. If the
> performance sucks, or it has security problems, or needs caching that
> cant be solved in userspace it can be moved to the kernel, but in that
> case the smallest and cleanest API possible should be implemented.
> If, for historical reasons, an API must be in the kernel, there is not
> much we can do about it either. It'll have to stay there, but we can
> avoid making the same mistakes again.
> So, for all the examples of the kernel having plugins that
> automatically lets an application see a tar-file as a directory, I
> really, really don't belive this belongs in the kernel. First of all,
> this is the file-as-directory discussion again, I belive it is a
> mistake to expose the contents as a directory on top of the file
> because it breaks a lot of assumptions that unix programs make.
> It's much better to expose the contents at another place in the
> filesystem by doing a temporary mount of the file with the proper
> filesystem. As Pavel Machek pointed out, this has the problem of who
> cleans up the mount if the application crashes. One way to handle
> this could be something like this:
> mount -t tarfs -o loop bar.tar /tmp/bar-fabb50509
> chdir /tmp/bar-fabb50509
> umount -f /tmp/bar-fabb50509
> This will require the ability to unmount busy filesystems (but I
> belive Alexander Viro already has implemented the infrastructure
> needed for this).
> Or for files that we don't have a real filesystem driver (or on other
> systems where userspace mounts are not allowed), we could just unpack
> the contents into /tmp. For cleanup we could let whatever cleans up
> /tmp anyways handle it, or have a cache daemon that keeps track of
> untarred directories and removes them after a while.
> Another way is to completely forget about presenting the contents of a
> tar file as a real files, and just use a shared library to get at the
> contents (now we just have to convince everyone to use the shared
> library). This would also be portable to other systems.
> If we do this right, it could all be hidden in a shared library, and
> if the system below it supports more advanced features, it can use it.
> Regarding the "I want a realtime index of all files". I belive that a
> notifier that can tell me when a file has been changed and a userspace
> daemon ought to handle most of the cases that have been mentioned.
> The suggested problems of not getting an up to date query response can
> be handled by just asking the daemon "are you done with indexing yet".
> The design of such a daemon and the support it needs from the kernel
> can definitely be discussed. But to put the indexer itself in the
> kernel sounds like a bad idea. Even adding an API to query the
> indexer into the kernel sounds pointless, why do that instead of just
> opening a Unix socket to the indexer and asking it directly?
> /Christer
> --
> "Just how much can I get away with and still go to heaven?"
> Freelance consultant specializing in device driver programming for Linux
> Christer Weinigel <>
> -
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