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[PATCH V2 23/22] xfs: add metadata CRC documentation

To: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [PATCH V2 23/22] xfs: add metadata CRC documentation
From: Dave Chinner <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2013 16:49:58 +1000
Delivered-to: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
In-reply-to: <20130405070006.GJ12011@dastard>
References: <1364965892-19623-1-git-send-email-david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> <20130405070006.GJ12011@dastard>
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)
xfs: add metadata CRC documentation

From: Dave Chinner <dchinner@xxxxxxxxxx>

Add some documentation about the self describing metadata and the
code templates used to implement it.

Signed-off-by: Dave Chinner <dchinner@xxxxxxxxxx>
V2: fix all the typos reported

 .../filesystems/xfs-self-describing-metadata.txt   |  350 ++++++++++++++++++++
 1 file changed, 350 insertions(+)

diff --git a/Documentation/filesystems/xfs-self-describing-metadata.txt 
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..05aa455
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/filesystems/xfs-self-describing-metadata.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,350 @@
+XFS Self Describing Metadata
+The largest scalability problem facing XFS is not one of algorithmic
+scalability, but of verification of the filesystem structure. Scalabilty of the
+structures and indexes on disk and the algorithms for iterating them are
+adequate for supporting PB scale filesystems with billions of inodes, however 
+is this very scalability that causes the verification problem.
+Almost all metadata on XFS is dynamically allocated. The only fixed location
+metadata is the allocation group headers (SB, AGF, AGFL and AGI), while all
+other metadata structures need to be discovered by walking the filesystem
+structure in different ways. While this is already done by userspace tools for
+validating and repairing the structure, there are limits to what they can
+verify, and this in turn limits the supportable size of an XFS filesystem.
+For example, it is entirely possible to manually use xfs_db and a bit of
+scripting to analyse the structure of a 100TB filesystem when trying to
+determine the root cause of a corruption problem, but it is still mainly a
+manual task of verifying that things like single bit errors or misplaced writes
+weren't the ultimate cause of a corruption event. It may take a few hours to a
+few days to perform such forensic analysis, so for at this scale root cause
+analysis is entirely possible.
+However, if we scale the filesystem up to 1PB, we now have 10x as much metadata
+to analyse and so that analysis blows out towards weeks/months of forensic 
+Most of the analysis work is slow and tedious, so as the amount of analysis 
+up, the more likely that the cause will be lost in the noise.  Hence the 
+concern for supporting PB scale filesystems is minimising the time and effort
+required for basic forensic analysis of the filesystem structure.
+Self Describing Metadata
+One of the problems with the current metadata format is that apart from the
+magic number in the metadata block, we have no other way of identifying what it
+is supposed to be. We can't even identify if it is the right place. Put simply,
+you can't look at a single metadata block in isolation and say "yes, it is
+supposed to be there and the contents are valid".
+Hence most of the time spent on forensic analysis is spent doing basic
+verification of metadata values, looking for values that are in range (and 
+not detected by automated verification checks) but are not correct. Finding and
+understanding how things like cross linked block lists (e.g. sibling
+pointers in a btree end up with loops in them) are the key to understanding 
+went wrong, but it is impossible to tell what order the blocks were linked into
+each other or written to disk after the fact.
+Hence we need to record more information into the metadata to allow us to
+quickly determine if the metadata is intact and can be ignored for the purpose
+of analysis. We can't protect against every possible type of error, but we can
+ensure that common types of errors are easily detectable.  Hence the concept of
+self describing metadata.
+The first, fundamental requirement of self describing metadata is that the
+metadata object contains some form of unique identifier in a well known
+location. This allows us to identify the expected contents of the block and
+hence parse and verify the metadata object. IF we can't independently identify
+the type of metadata in the object, then the metadata doesn't describe itself
+very well at all!
+Luckily, almost all XFS metadata has magic numbers embedded already - only the
+AGFL, remote symlinks and remote attribute blocks do not contain identifying
+magic numbers. Hence we can change the on-disk format of all these objects to
+add more identifying information and detect this simply by changing the magic
+numbers in the metadata objects. That is, if it has the current magic number,
+the metadata isn't self identifying. If it contains a new magic number, it is
+self identifying and we can do much more expansive automated verification of 
+metadata object at runtime, during forensic analysis or repair.
+As a primary concern, self describing metadata needs some form of overall
+integrity checking. We cannot trust the metadata if we cannot verify that it 
+not been changed as a result of external influences. Hence we need some form of
+integrity check, and this is done by adding CRC32c validation to the metadata
+block. If we can verify the block contains the metadata it was intended to
+contain, a large amount of the manual verification work can be skipped.
+CRC32c was selected as metadata cannot be more than 64k in length in XFS and
+hence a 32 bit CRC is more than sufficient to detect multi-bit errors in
+metadata blocks. CRC32c is also now hardware accelerated on common CPUs so it 
+fast. So while CRC32c is not the strongest of possible integrity checks that
+could be used, it is more than sufficient for our needs and has relatively
+little overhead. Adding support for larger integrity fields and/or algorithms
+does really provide any extra value over CRC32c, but it does add a lot of
+complexity and so there is no provision for changing the integrity checking
+Self describing metadata needs to contain enough information so that the
+metadata block can be verified as being in the correct place without needing to
+look at any other metadata. This means it needs to contain location 
+Just adding a block number to the metadata is not sufficient to protect against
+mis-directed writes - a write might be misdirected to the wrong LUN and so be
+written to the "correct block" of the wrong filesystem. Hence location
+information must contain a filesystem identifier as well as a block number.
+Another key information point in forensic analysis is knowing who the metadata
+block belongs to. We already know the type, the location, that it is valid
+and/or corrupted, and how long ago that it was last modified. Knowing the owner
+of the block is important as it allows us to find other related metadata to
+determine the scope of the corruption. For example, if we have a extent btree
+object, we don't know what inode it belongs to and hence have to walk the 
+filesystem to find the owner of the block. Worse, the corruption could mean 
+no owner can be found (i.e. it's an orphan block), and so without an owner 
+in the metadata we have no idea of the scope of the corruption. If we have an
+owner field in the metadata object, we can immediately do top down validation 
+determine the scope of the problem.
+Different types of metadata have different owner identifiers. For example,
+directory, attribute and extent tree blocks are all owned by an inode, whilst
+freespace btree blocks are owned by an allocation group. Hence the size and
+contents of the owner field are determined by the type of metadata object we 
+looking at.  The owner information can also identify misplaced writes (e.g.
+freespace btree block written to the wrong AG).
+Self describing metadata also needs to contain some indication of when it was
+written to the filesystem. One of the key information points when doing 
+analysis is how recently the block was modified. Correlation of set of 
+metadata blocks based on modification times is important as it can indicate
+whether the corruptions are related, whether there's been multiple corruption
+events that lead to the eventual failure, and even whether there are 
+present that the run-time verification is not detecting.
+For example, we can determine whether a metadata object is supposed to be free
+space or still allocated if it is still referenced by its owner by looking at
+when the free space btree block that contains the block was last written
+compared to when the metadata object itself was last written.  If the free 
+block is more recent than the object and the object's owner, then there is a
+very good chance that the block should have been removed from the owner.
+To provide this "written timestamp", each metadata block gets the Log Sequence
+Number (LSN) of the most recent transaction it was modified on written into it.
+This number will always increase over the life of the filesystem, and the only
+thing that resets it is running xfs_repair on the filesystem. Further, by use 
+the LSN we can tell if the corrupted metadata all belonged to the same log
+checkpoint and hence have some idea of how much modification occurred between
+the first and last instance of corrupt metadata on disk and, further, how much
+modification occurred between the corruption being written and when it was
+Runtime Validation
+Validation of self-describing metadata takes place at runtime in two places:
+       - immediately after a successful read from disk
+       - immediately prior to write IO submission
+The verification is completely stateless - it is done independently of the
+modification process, and seeks only to check that the metadata is what it says
+it is and that the metadata fields are within bounds and internally consistent.
+As such, we cannot catch all types of corruption that can occur within a block
+as there may be certain limitations that operational state enforces of the
+metadata, or there may be corruption of interblock relationships (e.g. 
+sibling pointer lists). Hence we still need stateful checking in the main code
+body, but in general most of the per-field validation is handled by the
+For read verification, the caller needs to specify the expected type of 
+that it should see, and the IO completion process verifies that the metadata
+object matches what was expected. If the verification process fails, then it
+marks the object being read as EFSCORRUPTED. The caller needs to catch this
+error (same as for IO errors), and if it needs to take special action due to a
+verification error it can do so by catching the EFSCORRUPTED error value. If we
+need more discrimination of error type at higher levels, we can define new
+error numbers for different errors as necessary.
+The first step in read verification is checking the magic number and 
+whether CRC validating is necessary. If it is, the CRC32c is calculated and
+compared against the value stored in the object itself. Once this is validated,
+further checks are made against the location information, followed by extensive
+object specific metadata validation. If any of these checks fail, then the
+buffer is considered corrupt and the EFSCORRUPTED error is set appropriately.
+Write verification is the opposite of the read verification - first the object
+is extensively verified and if it is OK we then update the LSN from the last
+modification made to the object, After this, we calculate the CRC and insert it
+into the object. Once this is done the write IO is allowed to continue. If any
+error occurs during this process, the buffer is again marked with a 
+error for the higher layers to catch.
+A typical on-disk structure needs to contain the following information:
+struct xfs_ondisk_hdr {
+        __be32  magic;         /* magic number */
+        __be32  crc;           /* CRC, not logged */
+        uuid_t  uuid;          /* filesystem identifier */
+        __be64  owner;         /* parent object */
+        __be64  blkno;         /* location on disk */
+        __be64  lsn;           /* last modification in log, not logged */
+Depending on the metadata, this information may be part of a header structure
+separate to the metadata contents, or may be distributed through an existing
+structure. The latter occurs with metadata that already contains some of this
+information, such as the superblock and AG headers.
+Other metadata may have different formats for the information, but the same
+level of information is generally provided. For example:
+       - short btree blocks have a 32 bit owner (ag number) and a 32 bit block
+         number for location. The two of these combined provide the same
+         information as @owner and @blkno in eh above structure, but using 8
+         bytes less space on disk.
+       - directory/attribute node blocks have a 16 bit magic number, and the
+         header that contains the magic number has other information in it as
+         well. hence the additional metadata headers change the overall format
+         of the metadata.
+A typical buffer read verifier is structured as follows:
+#define XFS_FOO_CRC_OFF                offsetof(struct xfs_ondisk_hdr, crc)
+static void
+       struct xfs_buf  *bp)
+       struct xfs_mount *mp = bp->b_target->bt_mount;
+        if ((xfs_sb_version_hascrc(&mp->m_sb) &&
+             !xfs_verify_cksum(bp->b_addr, BBTOB(bp->b_length),
+                                       XFS_FOO_CRC_OFF)) ||
+            !xfs_foo_verify(bp)) {
+                XFS_CORRUPTION_ERROR(__func__, XFS_ERRLEVEL_LOW, mp, 
+                xfs_buf_ioerror(bp, EFSCORRUPTED);
+        }
+The code ensures that the CRC is only checked if the filesystem has CRCs 
+by checking the superblock of the feature bit, and then if the CRC verifies OK
+(or is not needed) it verifies the actual contents of the block.
+The verifier function will take a couple of different forms, depending on
+whether the magic number can be used to determine the format of the block. In
+the case it can't, the code is structured as follows:
+static bool
+       struct xfs_buf          *bp)
+        struct xfs_mount       *mp = bp->b_target->bt_mount;
+        struct xfs_ondisk_hdr  *hdr = bp->b_addr;
+        if (hdr->magic != cpu_to_be32(XFS_FOO_MAGIC))
+                return false;
+        if (!xfs_sb_version_hascrc(&mp->m_sb)) {
+               if (!uuid_equal(&hdr->uuid, &mp->m_sb.sb_uuid))
+                       return false;
+               if (bp->b_bn != be64_to_cpu(hdr->blkno))
+                       return false;
+               if (hdr->owner == 0)
+                       return false;
+       }
+       /* object specific verification checks here */
+        return true;
+If there are different magic numbers for the different formats, the verifier
+will look like:
+static bool
+       struct xfs_buf          *bp)
+        struct xfs_mount       *mp = bp->b_target->bt_mount;
+        struct xfs_ondisk_hdr  *hdr = bp->b_addr;
+        if (hdr->magic == cpu_to_be32(XFS_FOO_CRC_MAGIC)) {
+               if (!uuid_equal(&hdr->uuid, &mp->m_sb.sb_uuid))
+                       return false;
+               if (bp->b_bn != be64_to_cpu(hdr->blkno))
+                       return false;
+               if (hdr->owner == 0)
+                       return false;
+       } else if (hdr->magic != cpu_to_be32(XFS_FOO_MAGIC))
+               return false;
+       /* object specific verification checks here */
+        return true;
+Write verifiers are very similar to the read verifiers, they just do things in
+the opposite order to the read verifiers. A typical write verifier:
+static void
+       struct xfs_buf  *bp)
+       struct xfs_mount        *mp = bp->b_target->bt_mount;
+       struct xfs_buf_log_item *bip = bp->b_fspriv;
+       if (!xfs_foo_verify(bp)) {
+               XFS_CORRUPTION_ERROR(__func__, XFS_ERRLEVEL_LOW, mp, 
+               xfs_buf_ioerror(bp, EFSCORRUPTED);
+               return;
+       }
+       if (!xfs_sb_version_hascrc(&mp->m_sb))
+               return;
+       if (bip) {
+               struct xfs_ondisk_hdr   *hdr = bp->b_addr;
+               hdr->lsn = cpu_to_be64(bip->bli_item.li_lsn);
+       }
+       xfs_update_cksum(bp->b_addr, BBTOB(bp->b_length), XFS_FOO_CRC_OFF);
+This will verify the internal structure of the metadata before we go any
+further, detecting corruptions that have occurred as the metadata has been
+modified in memory. If the metadata verifies OK, and CRCs are enabled, we then
+update the LSN field (when it was last modified) and calculate the CRC on the
+metadata. Once this is done, we can issue the IO.
+Inodes and Dquots
+Inodes and dquots are special snowflakes. They have per-object CRC and
+self-identifiers, but they are packed so that there are multiple objects per
+buffer. Hence we do not use per-buffer verifiers to do the work of per-object
+verification and CRC calculations. The per-buffer verifiers simply perform 
+identification of the buffer - that they contain inodes or dquots, and that
+there are magic numbers in all the expected spots. All further CRC and
+verification checks are done when each inode is read from or written back to 
+The structure of the verifiers and the identifiers checks is very similar to 
+buffer code described above. The only difference is where they are called. For
+example, inode read verification is done in xfs_iread() when the inode is first
+read out of the buffer and the struct xfs_inode is instantiated. The inode is
+already extensively verified during writeback in xfs_iflush_int, so the only
+addition here is to add the LSN and CRC to the inode as it is copied back into
+the buffer.
+XXX: inode unlinked list modification doesn't recalculate the inode CRC! None 
+the unlinked list modifications check or update CRCs, neither during unlink nor
+log recovery. So, it's gone unnoticed until now. This won't matter immediately 
+repair will probably complain about it - but it needs to be fixed.

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