Re: cachefs on linux

From: Rob Landley (
Date: Tue Jun 10 2003 - 14:15:53 EST

On Tuesday 10 June 2003 04:29, Sean Hunter wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 09, 2003 at 03:49:36PM -0500, Shawn wrote:
> > Well, it's a nice way to simulate writing on r/o filesystems IIRC. Like
> > mounting a cdrom then writing to it, but you're not.
> >
> > Was that was this was? Anyway, linux also does not have unionFS. If it
> > was that big of a deal, someone would write it. As it is, it's a
> > whizbang no one cares about enough.
> Its particularly handy for fast read-only NFS stuff. We have thousands
> of linux hosts and distributing software to all of them is a pain. With
> cachefs with NFS as the "back" filesystem, you push to the masters and
> the clients get the changes over NFS and then store them in their local
> cache so your software distribution nightmare becomes no problem at all.
> Clients read off the local disk if they can, but fetch over NFS as
> required. You can tune the cache size on all of the client machines so
> they can cache more or less of the most recently used NFS junk on its
> local disk.
> Sean

Technically cachefs is just a union mount with tmpfs or ramfs as the overlay
on the underlying filesystem. Doing a seperate cachefs is kind of pointless
in Linux.

I believe the reason we're using "union mount" is that was the term Al Viro
used when mentioning the concept in his to-do list months and months ago.
that was before he dropped off the face of the planet for a while, and the
Second Coming of Al Viro has yet to express an opinion on the matter, that I
am aware of.

I myself want union mounts to seperate the current procfs into a "procfs" that
does a subdirectory for each PID, and a "crapfs" that does all the legacy
stuff that got shoehorned into procfs back when it was the main virtual
filesystem for exporting system state. (For legacy systems, union mount
them. For new systems, use just /proc and /sys with no need for crapfs.
Easy migration path to something sane, that way...)

A lot of the VFS stuff has gotten cleaned up in 2.5 already. You can detach a
filesystem ala unlink (it goes out of the namespace now, but actually gets
unmounted when the last open filehandle in it gets closed.) I'm told there
is also now a umount equivalent of "kill -9". There was also talk of
per-process namespaces (so your mount doesn't have to show up in another
process's filesystem tree). As soon as I get brave enough to put 2.5 on main
work laptop, I intend to start playing with this sort of thing...

In 2.4 you could already remount the same filesystem in two or three places,
and there's --bind to graft a subdirectory into the three as if it were a
root directory. And mounting one filesystem over another doesn't cause
problems (although the underlying filesystem is completely hidden). What you
CAN'T do in 2.4 is move an existing mountpoint so you can free up what it was
mounted under without unmounting it.

Yes, I cared about this. Example: during initfs: mount /var, losetup
/dev/loop0 /var/firmware.img, then exit so root device becomes /dev/loop0,
and have init-first script "mount --move /initrd/var /var" (so init-first
doesn't have to actually know where /var is partition-wise, since it's _IN_
the read-only firmware we loopback mounted earlier, and we can't umount
/initrd/var anyway since it's got an open file in it for the loopback mount).
I ended up doing mount --bind instead and just living with the duplicate
mount under /initrd/var (and never being able to umount /initrd and free up
the three megabytes of ram). In 2.5, I can do a lot better...

As to the current status of union mounts, I have no idea. It was more or less
lumped in with the initramfs type work back around the halloween freeze,
which fell through the cracks for a while, and seems to have been resurrected
by other people (klib, etc) recently. Let's see...

The most recent 2.5 status thing says union mounts are post 2.6:

Whether that's accurate, or means 2.6.x or 2.7, I couldn't tell you...

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Jun 15 2003 - 22:00:25 EST