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Date:   Wed, 1 Nov 2023 13:38:41 +0200
From:   Amir Goldstein <>
To:     Jan Kara <>
Cc:     Dave Chinner <>,
        Jeff Layton <>,
        Linus Torvalds <>,
        Kent Overstreet <>,
        Christian Brauner <>,
        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 Wed, Nov 1, 2023 at 12:16 PM Jan Kara <> wrote:
> On Wed 01-11-23 08:57:09, Dave Chinner wrote:
> > 5. When-ever the inode is persisted, the timestamp is copied to the
> > on-disk structure and the current change counter is folded in.
> >
> >       This means the on-disk structure always contains the latest
> >       change attribute that has been persisted, just like we
> >       currently do with i_version now.
> >
> > 6. When-ever we read the inode off disk, we split the change counter
> > from the timestamp and update the appropriate internal structures
> > with this information.
> >
> >       This ensures that the VFS and userspace never see the change
> >       counter implementation in the inode timestamps.
> OK, but is this compatible with the current XFS behavior? AFAICS currently
> XFS sets sb->s_time_gran to 1 so timestamps currently stored on disk will
> have some mostly random garbage in low bits of the ctime. Now if you look
> at such inode with a kernel using this new scheme, stat(2) will report
> ctime with low bits zeroed-out so if the ctime fetched in the old kernel was
> stored in some external database and compared to the newly fetched ctime, it
> will appear that ctime has gone backwards... Maybe we don't care but it is
> a user visible change that can potentially confuse something.

See xfs_inode_has_bigtime() and auto-upgrade of inode format in

In the case of BIGTIME inode format, admin needs to opt-in to
BIGTIME format conversion by setting an INCOMPAT_BIGTIME
sb feature flag.

I imagine that something similar (inode flag + sb flag) would need
to be done for the versioned-timestamp, but I think that in that case,
the feature flag could be RO_COMPAT - there is no harm in exposing
made-up nsec lower bits if fs would be mounted read-only on an old
kernel, is there?

The same RO_COMPAT feature flag could also be used to determine
s_time_gran, because IIUC, s_time_gran for timestamp updates
is uniform across all inodes.

I know that Dave said he wants to avoid changing on-disk format,
but I am hoping that this well defined and backward compat with
lazy upgrade, on-disk format change may be acceptable?


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