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Date:   Fri, 24 Nov 2017 08:51:02 -0800
From:   Andi Kleen <>
To:     Andreas Dilger <>
Cc:     Andi Kleen <>, Theodore Ts'o <>,
        Tahsin Erdogan <>,
        Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
        linux-fsdevel <>,
        linux-ext4 <>
Subject: Re: regression: 4.13 cannot follow symlinks on some ext3 fs

> We checked old kernels, and old e2fsprogs, and didn't see any cases
> where fast (<= 60 chars) symlinks were created using external blocks.
> It seems that _something_ did create them, and it would be good to
> figure that out so we can determine if it is a widespread problem

I assume it was the original kernel. 

> I think e2fsck can fix this quite easily, and there really isn't
> an easy way to revert to the old method if the large xattr feature
> is enabled.  If you are willing to run a new kernel, you should also
> be willing to run a new e2fsck.

It's obviously not enabled on ext3.

> We could probably add a fallback to the old mechanism (and print
> a one-time warning to upgrade to a newer e2fsck) if an external fast
> symlink is found and the large xattr  feature is not enabled, which
> would give more time to fix this (hopefully rare in the wild) case.

If the old kernel created it, then likely all the
/lib{,64}/ symlinks have that, which breaks all ELF 
executables. I suspect in these old file systems it's not particularly rare.

So I don't think you can just break them all.

I think it's ok to only handle it when the large xattrs are disabled.

Requiring new e2fsck on old systems is a bad idea.


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