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Date:   Tue, 31 Oct 2023 11:30:21 +0100
From:   Christian Brauner <>
To:     Amir Goldstein <>
Cc:     Dave Chinner <>,
        Linus Torvalds <>,
        Jeff Layton <>,
        Kent Overstreet <>,
        Alexander Viro <>,
        John Stultz <>,
        Thomas Gleixner <>,
        Stephen Boyd <>,
        Chandan Babu R <>,
        "Darrick J. Wong" <>,
        Theodore Ts'o <>,
        Andreas Dilger <>,
        Chris Mason <>, Josef Bacik <>,
        David Sterba <>,
        Hugh Dickins <>,
        Andrew Morton <>,
        Jan Kara <>, David Howells <>,,,,,,,
Subject: Re: [PATCH RFC 2/9] timekeeping: new interfaces for multigrain
 timestamp handing

On Tue, Oct 31, 2023 at 09:03:57AM +0200, Amir Goldstein wrote:
> On Tue, Oct 31, 2023 at 3:42 AM Dave Chinner <> wrote:
> >
> [...]
> > .... and what is annoying is that that the new i_version just a
> > glorified ctime change counter. What we should be fixing is ctime -
> > integrating this change counting into ctime would allow us to make
> > i_version go away entirely. i.e. We don't need a persistent ctime
> > change counter if the ctime has sufficient resolution or persistent
> > encoding that it does not need an external persistent change
> > counter.
> >
> > That was reasoning behind the multi-grain timestamps. While the mgts
> > implementation was flawed, the reasoning behind it certainly isn't.
> > We should be trying to get rid of i_version by integrating it into
> > ctime updates, not arguing how atime vs i_version should work.
> >
> > > So I don't think the issue here is "i_version" per se. I think in a
> > > vacuum, the best option of i_version is pretty obvious.  But if you
> > > want i_version to track di_changecount, *then* you end up with that
> > > situation where the persistence of atime matters, and i_version needs
> > > to update whenever a (persistent) atime update happens.
> >
> > Yet I don't want i_version to track di_changecount.
> >
> > I want to *stop supporting i_version altogether* in XFS.
> >
> > I want i_version as filesystem internal metadata to die completely.
> >
> > I don't want to change the on disk format to add a new i_version
> > field because we'll be straight back in this same siutation when the
> > next i_version bug is found and semantics get changed yet again.
> >
> > Hence if we can encode the necessary change attributes into ctime,
> > we can drop VFS i_version support altogether.  Then the "atime bumps
> > i_version" problem also goes away because then we *don't use
> > i_version*.
> >
> > But if we can't get the VFS to do this with ctime, at least we have
> > the abstractions available to us (i.e. timestamp granularity and
> > statx change cookie) to allow XFS to implement this sort of
> > ctime-with-integrated-change-counter internally to the filesystem
> > and be able to drop i_version support....
> >
> I don't know if it was mentioned before in one of the many threads,
> but there is another benefit of ctime-with-integrated-change-counter
> approach - it is the ability to extend the solution with some adaptations
> also to mtime.
> The "change cookie" is used to know if inode metadata cache should
> be invalidated and mtime is often used to know if data cache should
> be invalidated, or if data comparison could be skipped (e.g. rsync).
> The difference is that mtime can be set by user, so using lower nsec
> bits for modification counter would require to truncate the user set
> time granularity to 100ns - that is probably acceptable, but only as
> an opt-in behavior.
> The special value 0 for mtime-change-counter could be reserved for
> mtime that was set by the user or for upgrade of existing inode,
> where 0 counter means that mtime cannot be trusted as an accurate
> data modification-cookie.
> This feature is going to be useful for the vfs HSM implementation [1]
> that I am working on and it actually rhymes with the XFS DMAPI
> patches that were never fully merged upstream.
> Speaking on behalf of my employer, we would love to see the data
> modification-cookie feature implemented, whether in vfs or in xfs.
> *IF* the result on this thread is that the chosen solution is
> ctime-with-change-counter in XFS
> *AND* if there is agreement among XFS developers to extend it with
> an opt-in mkfs/mount option to 100ns-mtime-with-change-counter in XFS
> *THEN* I think I will be able to allocate resources to drive this xfs work.

If it can be solved within XFS then this would be preferable.

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