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4.12 Stable versus unstable writes Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
4.12 Stable versus unstable writes

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4.12 Stable versus unstable writes

4.12 Stable versus unstable writes

The setting of the stable field in the WRITE arguments, that is whether or not to do asynchronous WRITE requests, is straightforward on a UNIX client. If the NFS version 3 protocol client receives a write request that is not marked as being asynchronous, it should generate the RPC with stable set to TRUE. If the request is marked as being asynchronous, the RPC should be generated with stable set to FALSE. If the response comes back with the committed field set to TRUE, the client should just mark the write request as done and no further action is required. If committed is set to FALSE, indicating that the buffer was not synchronized with the server's disk, the client will need to mark the buffer in some way which indicates that a copy of the buffer lives on the server and that a new copy does not need to be sent to the server, but that a commit is required.

Note that this algorithm introduces a new state for buffers, thus there are now three states for buffers. The three states are dirty, done but needs to be committed, and done. This extra state on the client will likely require modifications to the system outside of the NFS version 3 protocol client.

One proposal that was rejected was the addition of a boolean commit argument to the WRITE operation. It would be used to indicate whether the server should do a full file commit after doing the write. This seems as if it could be useful if the client knew that it was doing the last write on the file. It is difficult to see how this could be used, given existing client architectures though.

The asynchronous write opens up the window of problems associated with write sharing. For example: client A writes some data asynchronously. Client A is still holding the buffers cached, waiting to commit them later. Client B reads the modified data and writes it back to the server. The server then crashes. When it comes back up, client A issues a COMMIT operation which returns with a different cookie as well as changed attributes. In this case, the correct action may or may not be to retransmit the cached buffers. Unfortunately, client A can't tell for sure, so it will need to retransmit the buffers, thus overwriting the changes from client B. Fortunately, write sharing is rare and the solution matches the current write sharing situation. Without using locking for synchronization, the behaviour will be indeterminate.

In a high availability (redundant system) server implementation, two cases exist which relate to the verf changing. If the high availability server implementation does not use a shared-memory scheme, then the verf should change on failover, since the unsynchronized data is not available to the second processor and there is no guarantee that the system which had the data cached was able to flush it to stable storage before going down. The client will need to retransmit the data to be safe. In a shared-memory high availability server implementation, the verf would not need to change because the server would still have the cached data available to it to be flushed. The exact policy regarding the verf in a shared memory high availability implementation, however, is up to the server implementor.


Next: 4.13 32 bit clients/servers and 64 bit clients/servers

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
4.12 Stable versus unstable writes

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