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Re: [PATCH v9 30/34] qcow2: Add prealloc field to QCowL2Meta

From: Max Reitz
Subject: Re: [PATCH v9 30/34] qcow2: Add prealloc field to QCowL2Meta
Date: Fri, 3 Jul 2020 09:22:59 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/68.9.0

On 03.07.20 01:05, Alberto Garcia wrote:
> On Thu 02 Jul 2020 05:09:47 PM CEST, Max Reitz wrote:
>>> Without a backing file, there is no read required - writing to an
>>> unallocated subcluster within a preallocated cluster merely has to
>>> provide zeros to the rest of the write.  And depending on whether we
>>> can intelligently guarantee that the underlying protocol already
>>> reads as zeroes when preallocated, we even have an optimization where
>>> even that is not necessary.  We can still lump it in the "COW"
>>> terminology, in that our write is more complex than merely writing in
>>> place, but it isn't a true copy-on-write operation as there is
>>> nothing to be copied.
>> The term “COW” specifically in the qcow2 driver also refers to having
>> to write zeroes to an area that isn’t written to by the guest as part
>> of the process of having to allocate a (sub)cluster.
> The question is valid: if the space for the clusters is allocated but
> the subclusters are not marked as such then any partial write request
> will need to fill the rest with zeroes (in practice handle_alloc_space()
> can do that efficiently but that's another question).
> If there is a backing file then there's no other alternative because we
> do need to copy the data from the backing file.
> If there is no backing file perhaps we could allocate all subclusters as
> well. I suppose we can detect that scenario at that point in the code (I
> haven't checked) and I don't know what would happen if one later
> attaches a backing file on runtime using the command-line options.
> But what I would argue is that I don't see the benefit of using extended
> L2 entries on an preallocated image with no backing file: other than
> having twice as much L2 metadata what would be the use? The point of
> subclusters is that they make allocation more efficient, but if the
> image is already fully allocated then they give you nothing.

That’s true.  I didn’t think about it this way.

Then indeed it doesn’t make sense to potentially break cases of later
adding a backing file:

Reviewed-by: Max Reitz <mreitz@redhat.com>

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