On Thursday, December 27, 2012 04:11:51 pm Martin Fick wrote:
> On Wednesday, December 26, 2012 01:24:39 am Michael
> Haggerty
> wrote:
> > ... lots of discussion about ref locking...
> It concerns me that git uses any locking at all, even for
> refs since it has the potential to leave around stale
> locks.
> For a single user repo this is not a big deal, the lock
> can always be cleaned up manually (and it is a rare
> occurrence). However, in a multi user server environment,
> possibly even from multiple hosts over a shared
> filesystem such as NFS, stale locks could lead to serious
> downtime and risky recovery (since it is currently hard
> to figure out if a lock really is stale).  Even though
> stale locks are probably rare even today in the larger
> shared repo case, as git scales to even larger shared
> repositories, this will eventually become more of a
> problem *1.  Naturally, this has me thinking that git
> should possibly consider moving towards a lockless design
> for refs in the long term.
> I realize this is hard and that git needs to support many
> different filesystems with different semantics.  I had an
> idea I think may be close to a functional lockless design
> for loose refs (one piece at a time) that I thought I
> should propose, just to get the ball rolling, even if it
> is just going to be found to be flawed (I realize that
> history suggests that such schemes usually are).  I hope
> that it does not make use of any semantics which are not
> currently expected from git of filesystems.  I think it
> relies only on the ability to rename a file atomically,
> and the ability to scan the contents of a directory
> reliably to detect the "ordered" existence of files.
> My idea is based on using filenames to store sha1s instead
> of file contents.  To do this, the sha1 one of a ref
> would be stored in a file in a directory named after the
> loose ref.  I believe this would then make it possible to
> have lockless atomic ref updates by renaming the file.
> To more fully illustrate the idea, imagine that any file
> (except for the null file) in the directory will represent
> the value of the ref with its name, then the following
> transitions can represent atomic state changes to a refs
> value and existence:
> 1) To update the value from a known value to a new value
> atomically, simply rename the file to the new value.  This
> operation should only succeed if the file exists and is
> still named old value before the rename.  This should
> even be faster than today's approach, especially on
> remote filesystems since it would require only 1 round
> trip in the success case instead of 3!
> 2) To delete the ref, simply delete the filename
> representing the current value of the ref.  This ensures
> that you are deleting the ref from a specific value.  I
> am not sure if git needs to be able to delete refs
> without knowing their values? If so, this would require
> reading the value and looping until the delete succeeds,
> this may be a bit slow for a constantly updated ref, but
> likely a rare situation (and not likely worse than trying
> to acquire the ref-lock today).  Overall, this again
> would likely be faster than today's approach.
> 3) To create a ref, it must be renamed from the null file
> (sha 0000...) to the new value just as if it were being
> updated from any other value, but there is one extra
> condition: before renaming the null file, a full
> directory scan must be done to ensure that the null file
> is the only file in the directory (this condition exists
> because creating the directory and null file cannot be
> atomic unless the filesystem supports atomic directory
> renames, an expectation git does not currently make).  I
> am not sure how this compares to today's approach, but
> including the setup costs (described below), I suspect it
> is slower.
> While this outlines the state changes, some additional
> operations may be needed to setup some starting conditions
> and to clean things up. But these operations could/should
> be performed by any process/thread and would not cause
> any state changes to the ref existence or value.  For
> example, when creating a ref, the ref directory would
> need to be created and the null file needs to be created.
>  Whenever a null file is detected in the directory at the
> same time as another file, it should be deleted.  
> Whenever the directory is empty, it may be deleted
> (perhaps after a grace period to reduce retries during
> ref creation unless the process just deleted the ref).
> I don't know how this new scheme could be made to work
> with the current scheme, it seems like perhaps new git
> releases could be made to understand both the old and the
> new, and a config option could be used to tell it which
> method to write new refs with.  Since in this new scheme
> ref directory names would conflict with old ref
> filenames, this would likely prevent both schemes from
> erroneously being used
> simultaneously (so they shouldn't corrupt each other),
> except for the fact that refs can be nested in
> directories which confuses things a bit.  I am not sure
> what a good solution to this is?
> What did I miss, where are my flaws?  Does anyone else
> share my concern for stale locks?  How could we similarly
> eliminate locks for the packed-refs file?
> -Martin
> *1 We have been concerned with stale locks in the Gerrit
> community when trying to design atomic cross repository
> updates.  Of course, while a lockless solution eliminates
> stale locks, it might make it impossible to do atomic
> cross repository updates since all of our solutions so
> far need locks. :(

Hmm, actually I believe that with a small modification to the 
semantics described here it would be possible to make multi 
repo/branch commits work.   Simply allow the ref filename to 
be locked by a transaction by appending the transaction ID to 
the filename.  So if transaction 123 wants to lock master 
which points currently to abcde, then it will move 
master/abcde to master/abcde_123.  If transaction 123 is 
designed so that any process can commit/complete/abort it 
without requiring any locks which can go stale, then this ref 
lock will never go stale either (easy as long as it writes 
all its proposed updates somewhere upfront and has atomic 
semantics for starting, committing and aborting).  On commit, 
the ref lock gets updated to its new value: master/newsha and 
on abort it gets unlocked: master/abcde.

Shawn talked about adding multi repo/branch transaction 
semantics to jgit, this might be something that git wants to 
support also at some point?

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