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bug#6131: [PATCH]: fiemap support for efficient sparse file copy

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: bug#6131: [PATCH]: fiemap support for efficient sparse file copy
Date: Wed, 14 Jul 2010 10:45:23 -0700
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20100527 Thunderbird/3.0.5

>> I see fiemap just as a way to efficiently detect/read holes,
>> and should have no bearing on the destination.

Hmm, but the proposal quoted below would mean that fiemap does have a
bearing on the destination, in the --sparse=auto case.
I guess this is OK, but it should be documented.

>> cp --sparse=auto (this is currently what cp does by default)
>>   recreate the original fiemap holes or resort to existing
>>   heuristic if fiemap not available

It's not just fiemap.  It's also the Solaris interface with SEEK_HOLE
and SEEK_DATA.  The change should involve a module that isolates these
low-level details from copy.c.  copy.c should ask the new module for the
locations of the holes (or the non-holes: that could be more convenient).
On traditional hosts without fiemap or SEEK_DATA, the module should report
that it doesn't know where the holes are; this can let copy.c resort to
the existing heuristic of looking at the size and the disk usage and
using the --sparse=always approach if the file "smells" like it's sparse.

>> cp --sparse=never
>>   write all data, but use fiemap if available to efficiently read

Surely there's no need to write all the data if fallocate works.

>> cp --sparse=always
>>   recreate original holes and perhaps extend add to them for
>>   other runs of zero bytes. Without having looked at the code
>>   I see this as a little tricky to mix with fiemap.
>>   Now since fiemap is only an optimization we can skip it
>>   completely for this uncommon case if too tricky (just add a FIXME for now).

Yes, that makes sense.  --sparse=always should never invoke fallocate.

> For 'cp --sparse=never', when detected holes from SRC file, do not lseek(2) 
> against DST file,
> instead, write ZEROs to DST file, Am I right?

Only if fallocate doesn't work.  If fallocate works, there's no need
to write zeros to the destination.

> 2. Performance optimization, invoke fallocate(2) if an extent flag is 

This doesn't sound right.  A FIEMAP_EXTENT_UNWRITTEN extent is all zeros, and
so it should act as if it were a hole.  The goal is not to copy the exact
fiemap structure of the source (that's impossible): the goal is to use as
little time and space as possible.

> If you decide to do that, then please do it as a separate patch.

It's not clear to me that the fiemap stuff can be cleanly separated
from the fallocate stuff.  To some extent they're the same issue.
If they can easily be separated, that's better of course.

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