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Re: [Qemu-devel] Re: qcow2 corruption observed, fixed by reverting old c

From: Jamie Lokier
Subject: Re: [Qemu-devel] Re: qcow2 corruption observed, fixed by reverting old change
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2009 02:37:18 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.13 (2006-08-11)

Marc Bevand wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 8:23 AM, Jamie Lokier <address@hidden> wrote:
> >
> > Marc..  this is quite a serious bug you've reported.  Is there a
> > reason you didn't report it earlier?
> Because I only started hitting that bug a couple weeks ago after
> having upgraded to a buggy kvm version.
> > Is there a way to restructure the code and/or how it works so it's
> > more clearly correct?
> I am seriously concerned about the general design of qcow2. The code
> base is more complex than it needs to be, the format itself is
> susceptible to race conditions causing cluster leaks when updating
> some internal datastructures, it gets easily fragmented, etc.

When I read it, I thought the code was remarkably compact for what it
does, although I agree that the leaks, fragmentation and inconsistency
on crashes are serious.  From elsewhere it sounds like the refcount
update cost is significant too.

> I am considering implementing a new disk image format that supports
> base images, snapshots (of the guest state), clones (of the disk
> content); that has a radically simpler design & code base; that is
> always consistent "on disk"; that is friendly to delta diffing (ie.
> space-efficient when used with ZFS snapshots or rsync); and that makes
> use of checksumming & replication to detect & fix corruption of
> critical data structures (ideally this should be implemented by the
> filesystem, unfortunately ZFS is not available everywhere :D).

You have just described a high quality modern filesystem or database
engine; both would certainly be far more complex than qcow2's code.
Especially with checksumming and replication :)

ZFS isn't everywhere, but it looks like everyone wants to clone ZFS's
best features everywhere (but not it's worst feature: lots of memory

I've had similar thoughts myself, by the way :-)

> I believe the key to achieve these (seemingly utopian) goals is to
> represent a disk "image" as a set of sparse files, 1 per
> snapshot/clone.

You can already do this, if your filesystem supports snapshotting.  On
Linux hosts, any filesystem can snapshot by using LVM underneath it
(although it's not pretty to do).  A few experimental Linux
filesystems let you snapshot at the filesystem level.

A feature you missed in the utopian vision is sharing backing store
for equal parts of files between different snapshots _after_ they've
been written in separate branches (with the same data), and also among
different VMs.  It's becoming stylish to put similarity detection in
the filesystem somewhere too :-)

-- Jamie

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