redisfs - A replication-friendly filesystem.
Redis is an in-memory key & value store, which is simple to install, configure & use. It is particularly useful because it is very simple to use in a replicated fashion.
The notion of a replication-friendly storage system inspired me to build a filesystem around it, using the FUSE system.
Using a key & value storage system to store files might not seem like the most sane idea, but it actually works out surprisingly well. Consider the notion that you give each file in your system a unique identifier (literally a single integer) then you can store things such as:
|INODE:1:NAME||The name of the file (e.g. "passwd").|
|INODE:1:SIZE||The size of the file (e.g. "1661" )|
|INODE:1:GID||The group ID of the file's owner (e.g. "0")|
|INODE:1:UID||The user ID of the file's owner (e.g. "0")|
|INODE:1:MODE||The mode of the file (e.g. 0755)|
There is a little additional complexity involved in storing directory entries, such that we can find the entries of a given directory. (We solve that problem by using a Redis "SET".)
Additionally the data associated with each file, which is stored in memory, is compressed via ZLIB to reduce the round-trip time to a potentially remote redis-server.
There are two ways that you can achieve a replicated filesystem with this software; the simple way involves using a single redis server which multiple hosts connect to:
The alternative is to have each filesystem mount itself against a local redis server - using the redis replication system to control the redundancy:
The appeal of this system is that there is less round-trip time to replicate your files; however the drawback is that the filesystem mounted against the slave is by nature read-only.
(Note: If you want to be explicitly read-only that is easily possible; just launch "redisfs --read-only ..".)
Because all file & directory details are stored in-memory it becomes very trivial to create snapshots. All we have to do is iterate over each of the keys relating to our filesystem - and copy them.
As of redisfs v0.5 redisfs-snapshot allows a filesystem to be snapshotted with ease. Simply execute:
$ redisfs-snapsot --from=skx --to=copy
Note: You don't need root access to snapshot the filesystem, as you're only ever talking to redis.
This takes all keys with a "skx:" prefix (this is the default) and clones them to new keys with a "safe-copy" prefix. You can then mount this filesystem via:
# mkdir /tmp/safe
# redisfs --prefix=copy --mount=/tmp/safe
You may download the current stable release from the following links:
You can also find source & binary packages compiled for the Squeeze release of Debian GNU/Linux in my redisfs repository.
If you'd like to try something more cutting edge please see the redisfs mercurial repository.
Building The Software
To build this software you'll need a C compiler & the libfuse-dev package(s) installed upon your system. On a Debian GNU/Linux system the following should be sufficient:
apt-get install build-essential make pkg-config libfuse-dev
Note: If you're running Debian's Squeeze distribution you may find the source & binaries already available to you.
Assuming you have the required software present you can build via a simple "make" command.
Once built you may launch the filesystem with something like:
redisfs --host=localhost --port=6379 --mount=/mnt/redis [--read-only] [--debug] [--prefix=skx]
Note: To mount a second filesystem against the same redis server you'll need to configure a key-prefix via the --prefix argument.
The only obvious missing feature is support for hard-links, symlinks are supported though.
After that I'm going to look to see how hard it will be to use redis asynchronously - I suspect that should be simple, but my recollection is that FUSE doesn't play nice with such things - currently I use a mutex for 99% of operations to avoid corruption and inconsistencies.
Other features? I can't think of any but suggestions are welcome.