On Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 09:39:27AM -0500, Jayashree Mohan wrote:
> Hey Dave,
> Thanks for clarifying the crash recovery semantics of strictly
> metadata ordered filesystems. We had a follow-up question in this
> case.
> On Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 8:16 AM, Amir Goldstein <amir7...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 3:54 PM, Vijay Chidambaram <vi...@cs.utexas.edu> 
> > wrote:
> >> Hi Amir,
> >>
> >> Thanks for the reply!
> >>
> >> On Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 12:52 AM, Amir Goldstein <amir7...@gmail.com> 
> >> wrote:
> >>>
> >>> Not a bug.
> >>>
> >>> From man 2 fsync:
> >>>
> >>> "Calling  fsync() does not necessarily ensure that the entry in the
> >>>  directory containing the file has also reached disk.  For that an
> >>>  explicit fsync() on a file descriptor for the directory is also needed."
> >>
> >>
> >> Are we understanding this right:
> >>
> >> ext4 and xfs fsync the parent directory if a sym link file is fsync-ed. But
> >> btrfs does not. Is this what we are seeing?
> >
> > Nope.
> >
> > You are seeing an unintentional fsync of parent, because both
> > parent update and symlink update are metadata updates that are
> > tracked by the same transaction.
> >
> > fsync of symlink forces the current transaction to the journal,
> > pulling in the parent update with it.
> >
> >
> >>
> >> I agree that fsync of a file does not mean fsync of its directory entry, 
> >> but
> >> it seems odd to do it for regular files and not for sym links. We do not 
> >> see
> >> this behavior if we use a regular file instead of a sym link file.
> >>
> >
> > fsync of regular file behaves differently than fsync of non regular file.
> > I suggest this read:
> > https://thunk.org/tytso/blog/2009/03/12/delayed-allocation-and-the-zero-length-file-problem/
> >
> >>>
> >>> There is a reason why this behavior is not being reproduces in
> >>> ext4/xfs, but you should be able to reproduce a similar issue
> >>> like this:
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> 1. symlink (foo, bar.tmp)
> >>> 2. open bar.tmp
> >>> 3. fsync bar.tmp
> >>> 4. rename(bar.tmp, bar)
> >>> 5. fsync bar
> >>> ----crash here----
> >>
> Going by your argument that all previous transactions that referenced
> the file being fsync-ed needs to be committed, should we expect xfs
> (and ext4) to persist file bar in this case?

No, that's not what I'm implying. I'm implying that there is
specific ordering dependencies that govern this behaviour, and
assuming that what the fsync man page says about files applies to
symlinks is not a valid assumption because files and symlinks are
not equivalent objects.

In these cases, you first have to ask "what are we actually running
fsync on?"

The fsync is being performed on the inode the symlink points to, not
the symlink. You can't directly open a symlink to fsync the symlink.

Then you have to ask "what is the dependency chain between the
parent directory, the symlink and the file it points to?"

the short answer is that symlinks have no direct relationship to the
object they point to. i.e. symlinks contain a path, not a reference
to a specific filesystem object.

IOWs, symlinks are really a directory construct, not a file.
However, there is no ordering dependency between a symlink and what
it points to. symlinks contain a path which needs to be resolved to
find out what it points to, and that may not even exist. Files have
no reference to symlinks that point at them, so there's no way we
can create an ordering dependency between file updates and any
symlink that points to them.

Directories, OTOH, contain a pointer to a reference counted object
(an inode) in their dirents. hence if you add/remove directory
dirents that point to an inode, you also have to modify the inode
link counts as it records how many directory entries point at it.
That's a bi-directional atomic modification ordering dependency
between directories and inodes they point at.

So when we look at symlinks, the parent directory has a ordering
dependency with the symlink inode, not whatever is found by
resolving the path in the symlink data. IOWs, there is no ordering
relationship between the symlink's parent directory and whatever the
symlink points at. i.e. it's a one-way relationship, and so there is
no reverse ordering dependency that requires fsync() on the file to
force synchronisation of a symlink it knows nothing about.

i.e. the ordering dependency that exists with symlinks is between
the symlink and it's parent directory, not whatever the symlink
points to. Hence fsyncing whatever the symlink points to does not
guarantee that the symlink is made stable because the symlink is not
part of the dependency chain of the object being fsync()d....


Dave Chinner
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