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[PATCH 00/19] xfs: buffer read verifier infrastructure

To: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [PATCH 00/19] xfs: buffer read verifier infrastructure
From: Dave Chinner <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 9 Oct 2012 14:50:51 +1100
Hi folks,

This is the next step along the road to metadata CRC checking. What
the series does is add an iodone callback to most metadata buffer
read operations that is only executed when the buffer is physically
read from disk.  Read operations that hit the cache do no trigger a
verification, as CRCs only protect the on-disk metadata and the
in-memory buffer can be changed at any time after it is read without
recalculating the CRC of the buffer.

Hence we need infrastructure that only triggers verification as a
result of a physical read IO. We can do that easily enough via the
existing b_iodone callback infrastructure. This callback is
currently only used by writes, and callbacks clear themselves from
the buffer b_iodone function pointer once they are run. By following
this same usage pattern, we can attach a verifier callback to the
buffer when it is first read from disk and clear it from the
b_iodone callback once it has been executed, preserving the existing
behaviour for buffers that are cached in memory.

To do this, we nee dto add a verifier function to all the buffer
read functions that can be attached to the buffer if we are going to
execute a physical read to fill the buffer. The iodone callback is
only passed the buffer, so the only context for verification we have
is the function being called.

Hence the initial verifier functions simply check the buffer for
valid contents according to the type that is expected in the buffer.
In future, more targetted verifiers could be implmented to verify
that buffers are in certain states or with certain constraints, but
that is not a focus of this patch set.

If a verifier function detects an inconsistency or corruption, the
only way it can pass that error to waiters is via placing an error
on the buffer itself via xfs_buf_ioerror(). A validation error
should set the error to EFSCORRUPTED, so that a validation error can
be distinguished from an IO failure, which will result in an EIO
being set on the buffer. Once processing is complete, the iodone
function is cleared and the next stage of ioend processing is
triggered by calling xfs_buf_ioend(). This is typically done like

void verifier_fn(struct xfs_buf *bp)
        // check buffer

        if (!buf_ok) {
                xfs_buf_ioerror(bp, EFSCORRUPTED);

        bp->b_iodone = NULL;

Hence callers that are returned a buffer need to check the buffer
for a validation error before using it. If special error handling
for a validation error is necessary, it needs to catch a
EFSCORRUPTED error. In most cases (e.g.  xfs_trans_read_buf_map())
this checking is already done, so there's relatively few places that
need modifications to their error handling to handle this.

The verifiers still emit error reports with stack traces, but they
are probably less useful than they were because the stack trace will
simply point to the IO completion stack. It is an open question as
to whether the error report should be in the verifier or issued by
the waiting context - I'm happy to have reports in the waiting
context in the places where there isn't already an error report if

The next step in this process (i.e. the next patch set) is to add a
pre-write callback to verify the contents of the buffer just before
it is issued to disk.  This will allow us to verify that detectable
in-memory corruption is not being propagated to disk, and will use
the same verifier function as the read code.  Once these verifiers
are in place, the infrastructure for enabling CRC validation of
metadata buffers will be in place.

These write verifiers will initially be identical to these read
verifiers, but once CRC verification and calculation is added, the
callbacks will be different but the verifier identical.

It should be noted that this patch set does not quite cover all
metadata types - remote attribute and symlink blocks are not
currently handled because there is no way to validate those buffers
are good or bad because all they contain is user data. Verifiers for
these types of metadata buffers will be added when CRC protection is
added to these types.

Comments, flames and rants about how to do this better are welcome :)



PS: you can now see how I found the bug fixed in the first patch. ;)

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