[SoaS] [Sugar-devel] SOAS 2 problems
sebastian at when.com
Wed Jan 27 01:30:36 EST 2010
Bernie Innocenti wrote:
> On Mon, 2010-01-25 at 20:21 +0100, Sebastian Dziallas wrote:
>>> Have you tried writing to the journal until you fill up the overlay
>> On a reasonably big usb stick (with prices dropping all day long), this
>> problem will probably not be solved, but rather appear less and less.
> On larger USB sticks it will take *longer* to appear, but it *will*
> certainly appear after some time. As the journal fills up with activity
> data, soon or later the overlay snapshot will run out of free pages.
Well, let's take a 4 GB USB key as an example. The SoaS base images
should take up less than 1 GB. So you can very well allocate 2 GB to
your overlay file and still store some other data on it.
That's if I recall correctly already the double amount of the entire
storage the XO-1 had. You'd probably need to do a /lot/ of things to
fill up 2 GB of storage (unless you start randomly caching things from
mirrors or whatever). So please stop suggesting that on a reasonably
configured USB key, the overlay will fill up all of a sudden.
>> Note that I'm not saying that we don't need to investigate here.
>>> Unless I'm seriously misunderstanding how LVM snapshots work, this
>>> should systematically make the flash drive inoperable until reformatted,
>>> and all data inaccessible.
>> Walter, Dave and others have been doing tests concerning the reliability
>> of our current layout in the post-Strawberry time, if I recall
>> correctly. It turned out that the compressed read-only squashfs was not
>> at all the root of the issues some people were seeing.
> Yes, the problem is definitely not squashfs itself, because all it does
> is store a read/only ext3 image.
Then why do we need to get rid of it, meaning the squashfs image file?
>> Rather, those were directly related to a corrupted overlay file, whether
>> it was caused by unplugging the usb stick too early or filling up the
>> overlay file quickly. Resetting the overlay file took away all these
>> issues, though.
> Unplugging the USB stick shouldn't be causing any major filesystem
> corruption when using ext3 directly. It may be problematic with the
> overlay, though, as it cannot guarantee the write ordering semantics
> expected by the filesystem.
> The corruption scenario I've seen with Caroline is much simpler to
> 1. write normally to the filesystem (dd if=/dev/random of=foobar)
> 2. boom!
Admittedly, randomly dd'ing stuff the filesystem is not the usual
use-case for the average Sugar user, right? As I said, others did
testing over the time, resulting in the assumption of the overlay being
>> As much as it might be wrong: Upstream has a reason in doing so. And
>> we're going to stick with what upstream is doing. I used to explain a
>> major goal for this release to be increasing the sustainability of the
>> whole process. Diverging from upstream is not going to achieve this.
> I tried to make sense of the reasons behind the current layout by asking
> around. My impression is that it evolved in incremental steps over the
> years, without rethinking the design for USB storage at all.
> 1) a read-only squashfs of course made sense for the live CD
> 2) storing an ext3 image inside squashfs provided a bug-free
> filesystem and probably better compression
> 3) transferring this ext3-within-squashfs to a DOS filesystem was
> the most obvious way to create a bootable USB stick
> 4) using device-mapper snapshots was a clever way to make the
> embedded ext3 filesystem also writable
> See? Every step makes perfect sense if you consider the previous
> But... wait a moment... all these steps, 1 through 4, are totally
> superfluous when you have a USB stick!!!
As a matter of fact, some people who used to maintain livecd-tools don't
work for Red Hat anymore. However, this doesn't take away the advantage
of being widely used. The livecd-tools and the underlying framework is
not only used to create the dozen Fedora spins, but also for virtual
appliance creations through appliance-creator.
The current implementation has undeniably probably a lot more users than
Sugar on a Stick will ever have.
So it might be that the current livecd-tools lacks a full-time
maintainer. This doesn't make all the work that happens naturally
upstream for testing and verifying go away, though.
>> OLPC went through this. And so did I. The final Blueberry build was
>> created late in the night before I was having another school exam in the
>> morning and directly afterwards rushing to the airport to catch a plane
>> to Toronto.
> You did an amazing job, this is not being questioned.
>> Anything that diverges from upstream (let it be Fedora, Sugar, or any
>> other project) leaves us with a gap. Everything we hack up ourselves
>> will return to us when it comes to support.
> I'm not proposing to hack a new thing. I'm proposing to _remove_ a hack.
> All we have to do, is install Fedora to the USB stick normally, as it
> would be installed to a hard drive. We can do this using the standard
> tools for installing fedora (liveinst, or whatever).
> At the end of composition, we just drop the additional steps performed
> by livecd-iso-to-disk.
So the image literally beams itself onto the USB key? That's what I call
a feature! Yay. :)
What I'm saying is: You certainly don't want users to have to boot a
Fedora LiveCD to start a simple liveinst. But somehow your image needs
to get onto the USB key, if I'm not misinformed.
>> And we don't want our users
>> to download either a 4 GB image (or a 700 MB one, which takes them half
>> a day to uncompress), right?
> If the image is padded with zeros and compressed with xz (lzma),
> it may become even smaller than the current iso image. Wanna bet? :-)
Not yet. It looks like it totally went unnoticed that we actually
/created/ these image files (which was by the way possible by the
awesome work of Martin Dengler). When being compressed with LZMA, they
came somewhat close to the .iso size, but took quite some time to
extract (on my pretty decent 3 GHz Dual Core, even).
Basically, we went this way you're proposing for Blueberry already. And
I haven't heard back from anybody concerning the use of those files.
Instead, I was running around, trying to work out why it wouldn't boot
on my machine when the old layout would.
>>> The fix for us is easier, because we don't really need any of the fancy
>>> things that livecd-iso-to-disk does. All we need to do is stop
>>> mentioning it in our wiki and switch to liveinst, as Peter Robinson
>>> suggests, or any other tool that does the (rather trivial) job of
>>> transferring an ext3 image onto a (flash) drive.
>> I don't think there's an "us" and "them" there. People from Fedora
>> contribute to Sugar on a Stick, in the same way as people from Sugar
>> Labs do. It's somehow what makes this project so cool, too.
> I don't want to give the wrong impression that I'm anti-Fedora. I've
> been using Fedora on multiple machines since when it was still called
> Red Hat :-)
> Nevertheless, the Fedora Live CD has a different audience and use-cases
> than Sugar on a Stick. We don't necessarily have to blindly imitate them
> (regular Fedora Live) if it doesn't work well for us (SoaS). The Fedora
> Live CD is mostly for showcasing Fedora without installing it, while
> SoaS is supposed to be a production environment.
I agree here, certainly. The original intentions where different.
>> So. I was talking to Sascha yesterday on IRC and we came up with some
>> ideas how to proceed here. I don't think that the we should stop using
>> squashfs images. Because I don't see a reason to stop doing so.
> Let me reverse the viewpoint: do you see a reason to *continue* using
I could probably throw a lot of arguments in here, but will just give
Peter a big +1 to the points he made in his previous e-mail.
>> On the overlay, an approach that we came up with introduced a new
>> partition (possibly ext4) for the overlay only.
> Where would this new partition be mounted?
From what I'm understanding, it'd be mounted during the boot process
through the live scripts, as before. Basically, the files would just not
be stored in the single overlay file, but instead on a partition.
>> That would mean that the
>> bootloader and the squashfs file would stay on a fat32 partition,
>> allowing users even to exchange data with their windows machines.
> This is currently not possible anyway because the journal is stored in
> the ext3 partition, and windows does not have tools to read the journal
> Even if one could import/export files to the DOS partition, I don't
> think we should (mis)design our partition layout all around this
I'm neither suggesting to design the layout around this use-case (but am
rather just saying that it's a nice addition) nor that you could
suddenly read your Journal entries on a Windows machine.
Instead, it'd just allow you to files on the USB key in case you wanted
to use the key for something else than SoaS.
>> On the
>> other hand, we'd reference the new overlay partition (instead of the
>> overlay file) in the syslinux.cfg.
>> I don't know whether this is possible. But now is the time to work it
>> out. It would allow us to continue to use the existing infrastructure,
>> while working on the roots of relevant issues directly.
> Even if it were possible (but I do not understand how), this would
> indeed require some additional coding and testing to get there from
> where we're standing.
I'd be surprised if your approach would work without testing.
> What useful features does squashfs bring to pay off for all the extra
> work and complexity it requires?
Again, I'll hint at Peter's e-mail here, which is a pretty good summary.
> /me is a minimalist. What's not there will not break ;-)
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