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Re: fatfs write support

From: Thomas Bushnell, BSG
Subject: Re: fatfs write support
Date: 07 Apr 2004 14:49:10 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.3

Marco Gerards <metgerards@student.han.nl> writes:

> It already is the same lock, that is causing the problem.  We don't
> know if it is locked or not when write_node is called.  I don't see
> any change here.

Huh?  In diskfs, every node has one lock.  That lock is not the same
as the lock on the directory holding the file.

In fatfs, to write an inode, you must modify the directory it is in,
which requires locking the directory.  And, you of course hold the
inode locked which you are writing.  This causes deadlock problems,
because you can't try to lock a directory while you are holding a lock
on a file within the directory.

I'm suggesting (and it's just a guess; I don't claim to have the
details worked out) that you have *only* a lock for the directory, and
*no* lock for a regular inode, at all.

That is, don't use <node>->lock at all.  This may require more
substantial changes to diskfs than my first message intimated, on
second look.  But this is what I thought ten years ago would probably
be the right way to implement fatfs (though I freely admit that I
didn't attempt to think through all the details, and I might well be

One problem with this strategy is that it is not at all clear what to
do when you are treating directories.  Which all means that perhaps
this is indeed wrong.

> Do you mean that we have to split up the lock and make it more refined?

Ok, just thinking aloud: there are *two* distinct things that we are
conflating in the one <node>->lock that currently exists in diskfs:

First, <node>->lock governs modifications to the file itself that is
represented by <node>.

Second, <node>->lock governs modifications to the metadata for the

Now the reason for conflating these obviously includes that some of
the metadata is directly connected to modifying the file (especially
the file size).  But we have trouble now, that the metadata for a fatfs
inode is found inside some other file.

I can think of two strategies that might work here (I admit I still
haven't wrapped my head around the description of the strategy you
suggested in your email):

1) Change diskfs to have a special "fatfs" option (perhaps called
   something like "diskfs_metadata_in_directories" or whatnot).  If
   the fatfs flag is set, then the directory must always be locked
   when diskfs_write_disknode is called.  This would require very
   careful work throughout diskfs.  When the nodes were just looked
   up, this requires only preserving the locks on the directories
   longer.  In other cases (say, file_chown), if the fatfs flag is set
   then diskfs would have to acquire the directory lock before locking
   the file, and then unlock both after the nput call is complete.

   I believe this is the right strategy.  It does involve more pain,
   and risks the ire of lots of other people if diskfs gets mangled in
   the process.  But I do think this is the Right Thing.

2) You could rig up a special "directory writing unit" that would live
   entirely inside fatfs, which would have its own separate interlocks
   for directory writing.  The idea is that you would just reach
   inside the directory and rewrite it willy nilly without having
   locked the directory.  That's safe as long as you interact
   correctly with direnter, lookup, directory deletion, and everything
   else.  It might well be *more* pain that (1) above.  I do not think
   merely adding a reader/writer lock will do the trick.  This is, I
   think, something like the plan in your first email on the subject,
   but as I haven't studied it carefully yet, I can't be sure.


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