[TUHS] RFS was: Re: UNIX of choice these days?

Theodore Ts'o tytso at mit.edu
Fri Sep 29 00:09:06 AEST 2017

On Thu, Sep 28, 2017 at 08:53:54AM -0400, Noel Chiappa wrote:
>     > From: Theodore Ts'o
>     > when a file was truncated and then rewritten, and "truncate this file"
>     > packet got reordered and got received after the "here's the new 4k of
>     > contents of the file", Hilar[i]ty Enused.
> This sounds _exactly_ like a bad bug found in the RVD protocol (Remote Virtual
> Disk - a simple block device emulator). Disks kept suffering bit rot (damage
> to the inodes, IIRC). After much suffering, and pain trying to debug it (lots
> of disk writes, how do you figure out the one that's the problem), it was
> finally found (IIRC, it wasn't something thinking about it, they actually
> caught it). Turned out (I'm pretty sure my memory of the bug is correct), if
> you had two writes of the same block in quick sucession, and the second was
> lost, if the first one's ack was delayed Just Enough...

At least at Project Athena, we only used RVD as a way to do read-only
dissemination of system software, since RVD couldn't provide any kind
of file sharing, which was important at Athena.  So we used NFS
initially, and later on, transitioned to the Andrew File System (AFS).

The fact that with AFS you could do live migration of a user's home
directory, in the middle of day, to replace a drive that was making
early signs of failure --- was such that all of our ops people
infinitely preferred AFS to NFS.  NFS meant coming in late at night,
after scheduling downtime, to replace a failing disk, where as with
AFS, aside from a 30 second hiccup when the AFS volume was swept from
one server to another, was such that AFS was referred to as "crack
cocaine".  One ops people had a sniff of AFS, they never wanted to go
back to NFS.

						- Ted

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