On 2016-09-16 09:22, E V wrote:
Thanks for the info. I hadn't heard of dm-verity as of yet, I'll
certainly look into it. How recent a kernel is needed, ie would 4.1
work? Also, for the restore workflow it's nice to be able to do it
from just one of the 2 drives and verify the checksum from that file
since the other drive will be offsite, and hopefully only be needed if
the checksum check on the data retrieved from the 1st drive
fails(hopefully very infrequently.)
FWIW, the best documentation on dm-verity is the stuff in the kernel tree (IIRC, Documentation/device-mapper/verity.txt). In essence, it's a way of creating a cryptographically verified block device, and actually gets used as part of the boot-time security in Android and ChromeOS, and has been proposed as a way to extend secure-boot semantics into regular userspace (the downside is that a dm-verity target is read-only, so it won't work well for most regular users for something like a root filesystem).


As far as how recent stuff needs to be, I'm not certain. I don't remember exactly when the forward error correction support went in, but I'm pretty certain it was 4.4 or later. If you don't want to worry about the data recovery from the FEC functionality (which is similar in nature to erasure coding, just done in a way that it can be stored separately from the original data), you should be able to use just about any kernel version which is still supported upstream, as dm-verity went in long before the switch to 4.x. Doing this without FEC will provide less data protection, but dm-verity will still ensure that you don't read corrupted data, as it fails I/O on blocks that don't pass verification.

For the restore workflow, using multiple copies and a dm-raid device isn't strictly necessary, I only listed it as that will provide automatic recovery of things the FEC support in dm-verity can't fix. In a situation where I can be relatively sure that the errors will be infrequent and probably not co-located, I would probably skip it myself.

On Fri, Sep 16, 2016 at 7:45 AM, Austin S. Hemmelgarn
<ahferro...@gmail.com> wrote:
On 2016-09-15 22:58, Duncan wrote:

E V posted on Thu, 15 Sep 2016 11:48:13 -0400 as excerpted:

I'm investigating using btrfs for archiving old data and offsite
storage, essentially put 2 drives in btrfs RAID-1, copy the data to the
filesystem and then unmount, remove a drive and take it to an offsite
location. Remount the other drive -o ro,degraded until my systems slots
fill up, then remove the local drive and put it on a shelf. I'd verify
the file md5sums after data is written to the drive for piece of mind,
but maybe a btrfs scrub would give the same assurances. Seem
straightforward? Anything to look out for? Long term format stability
seems good, right? Also, I like the idea of being able to pull the
offsite drive back and scrub if the local drive ever has problems, a
nice extra piece of mind we wouldn't get with ext4. Currently using the
4.1.32 kernel since the driver for the r750 card in our 45 drives system
only supports up to 4.3 ATM.


As described I believe it should work fine.

Btrfs raid1 isn't like normal raid1 in some ways and in particular isn't
designed to be mounted degraded, writable, long term, only temporarily,
in ordered to replace a bad device.  As that's what I thought you were
going to propose when I read the subject line, I was all ready to tell
you no, don't try it and expect it to work, but of course you had
something different in mind, only read-only mounting of the degraded
raid1 (unless needed for scrub, etc), not mounting it writable, and as
long as you are careful to do just that, only mount it read-only, you
should be fine.

While I generally agree with Duncan that this should work if you're careful,
I will say that as things stand right now, you almost certainly _SHOULD NOT_
be using BTRFS for archival storage, be it in the way you're talking about,
or even just as a back-end filesystem for some other setup.  While I
consider it stable enough for regular usage, the number of issues is still
too significant IMO to trust long term archival data storage to it.

There are lots of other options for high density archival storage, and most
of them are probably better than BTRFS at the moment.  For reference, here's
what I would do if I needed archival storage beyond a few months:
1. Use SquashFS to create a mountable filesystem image containing the data
to be archived.
2. Compute and store checksums for the resultant FS image (probably SHA256)
3. Using veritysetup, dm-verity, and the new forward error correction it
provides, generate block-level authenticated checksums for the whole image,
including enough data to repair reasonable data corruption.
4. Compute and store checksums for the resultant dm-verity data.
5. Compress the data from dm-verity (using the same compression algorithm as
used in the SquashFS image).
6. Create a tar archive containing the SquashFS image, the compressed
dm-verity data, and a file with the checksums.
7. Store that tar archive in at least two different places.

When restoring data:
1. Collect copies of the tar archive from at least two different places.
2. For both copies:
        1. Extract the tar archive and decompress the dm-verity data.
        2. Verify the checksum of the dm-verity data.
        3. If the dm-verity data's checksum is correct, set up a dm-verity
target using that and the SquashFS image.
        4. If the dm-verity data's checksum is incorrect, verify the
checksum of the SquashFS archive.
        5. If the SquashFS archive's checksum is correct, use it directly,
otherwise discard this copy.
3. Create a read-only dm-raid RAID1 array containing all of the dm-verity
backed devices and SquashFS images with in-core sync-logging.
4. Mount the resultant device, and copy any data out.

That will overall give a better level of protection than BTRFS, or ZFS, or
almost anything else available on Linux right now can offer, and actually
provides better data safety than many commercial solutions. The only down
side is that you need recent device-mapper userspace and a recent kernel to
create and extract things.

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