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Date:	Wed, 03 Dec 2008 16:08:27 +0530
From:	Kalpak Shah <Kalpak.Shah@....COM>
To:	Theodore Tso <>
Cc:	Andreas Dilger <adilger@....COM>,
	Kalpak Shah <>,
	linux-ext4 <>,
	Mingming Cao <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH 2/2] Large EAs

Since we need to make sure that inodes are not used very frequently for
storing EAs, the following design was discussed on the ext4 concall:

xattrs of size blocksize/2 < ea_size <= blocksize are stored by
referencing the block number directly from the ext4_xattr_entry (using
some unique combination of bits to encode that this is referencing a
block instead of an inode, and also finding space to store 48-bit block
numbers) and then ea_size > blocksize is referenced directly by an

During discussion Andreas suggested another idea using which we can
avoid the need to point at blocks from the ext4_xattr_entry:

Use mballoc to try and find up to 64kB of contiguous blocks to store
smaller xattrs. Looking at the ext4_xattr_header it has an h_blocks
field which we can use to indicate the number of blocks in a row that
are allocated for this inode's xattrs. 

The ext4_xattr_entry has a 16-bit block offset that can be used to
point anywhere within a 64kB block.  This not only allows many more
small xattrs to be stored efficiently, but also mid-sized xattrs (<=
blocksize) can be handled efficiently because the data will be packed
into the single group of blocks.  It also avoids the need to reference
block numbers from the ext4_xattr_entry directly, which is ugly.



On Wed, 2008-11-26 at 19:35 -0500, Theodore Tso wrote:
> On Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 02:49:29PM -0700, Andreas Dilger wrote:
> > 
> > One benefit I think is that at least the orphaned EA inode can be
> > cleaned up instead of lingering in the middle of the shared EA tree.
> > 
> > Another benefit of having separate EAs is that it makes it tractable to
> > modify very large EAs.  Otherwise, if there are a number of large
> > EAs shared in a single tree they would all have to be modified in order
> > to store a larger value for an EA in the middle of the tree.
> I guess I didn't make myself clear.  I was *not* suggesting that we
> share EA's in one inode, or in one extent tree.  Instead, what I
> suggested was that instead of having a pointer to an inode, if the
> value of the EA is less than half the blocksize, it is stored in the
> EA block.  If it is between 50% and 100% of the blocksize, instead of
> pointing at inode, we point to a block.  If it is greater than a
> blocksize, we point at a block containing an EA tree.  (Which means
> for a large EA the average space overhead is 6k --- 4k for the extent
> block, plus 2k for the fragmentation cost).
> So this scheme very much uses separate EA's, and does not pack all of
> the EA's into a single tree.  It is deliberately kept simple precisely
> because like you I don't think it's worth it to optimize EA's.  On the
> other hand, running out of inodes is a big problem, and dynamic inodes
> is far more complicated an issue, especially if we don't have 64-bit
> inode support in the kernel and in userspace, and we need to worry
> about locality issues and how dynamic inodes work with online
> resizing. 
> The tradeoff is that my scheme doesn't burn an inode for each large
> EA, but for EA's greater than a blocksize, we chew an extra block's
> worth of overhead.  Personally, I think it's a worthwhile tradeoff ---
>    	       	  	  	     	     - Ted

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