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SubjectRe: Deleting large files

On Wed, 7 May 2008, Morten Welinder wrote:

> Hi there,
> deleting large files, say on the order of 4.6GB, takes approximately forever.
> Why is that? Well, it is because a lot of things need to take place to free
> the formerly used space, but my real question is "why does the unlink caller
> have to wait for it?"
> I.e., could unlink do the directory changes and then hand off the rest of the
> task to a kernel thread?
> Morten
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Suppose you had an N GB file that just filled up the disk. You now
delete it, but get control back before it is really deleted. You
now start to write a new file that will eventually just fill up
the disk. Your task will get a media full error long before
the media is really full because the old file's data space
hasn't been freed yet. So, to "fix" this, you modify the file-
system to defer your logical writes until all the previous
spaces has been freed (writes to the physical media are deferred
anyway as long as there is RAM available). The result is that
your new data, that may be precious from a quasi-real-time source,
will fail to be written. To "fix" this, you queue everything.
This will eventually fail because the disk and RAM are of
a finite size. The size of the disk is known, but you don't
know what will be deleted before the queued writes have
completed, so you really don't know when to tell the writer
that there is no more space available.

That's why the task that deletes data can't get control back
until is has been deleted. However, for user applications, at
the user's risk, one can do `rm filename &` and let the shell
do the waiting.

Dick Johnson
Penguin : Linux version on an i686 machine (5588.29 BogoMips).
My book :

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