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This document gives a brief introduction to the caching
mechanisms in the sunrpc layer that is used, in particular,
for NFS authentication.
The caching replaces the old exports table and allows for
a wide variety of values to be caches.
There are a number of caches that are similar in structure though
quite possibly very different in content and use. There is a corpus
of common code for managing these caches.
Examples of caches that are likely to be needed are:
- mapping from IP address to client name
- mapping from client name and filesystem to export options
- mapping from UID to list of GIDs, to work around NFS's limitation
of 16 gids.
- mappings between local UID/GID and remote UID/GID for sites that
do not have uniform uid assignment
- mapping from network identify to public key for crypto authentication.
The common code handles such things as:
- general cache lookup with correct locking
- supporting 'NEGATIVE' as well as positive entries
- allowing an EXPIRED time on cache items, and removing
items after they expire, and are no longe in-use.
Future code extensions are expect to handle
- making requests to user-space to fill in cache entries
- allowing user-space to directly set entries in the cache
- delaying RPC requests that depend on as-yet incomplete
cache entries, and replaying those requests when the cache entry
is complete.
- maintaining last-access times on cache entries
- clean out old entries when the caches become full
The code for performing a cache lookup is also common, but in the form
of a template. i.e. a #define.
Each cache defines a lookup function by using the DefineCacheLookup
macro, or the simpler DefineSimpleCacheLookup macro
Creating a Cache
1/ A cache needs a datum to cache. This is in the form of a
structure definition that must contain a
struct cache_head
as an element, usually the first.
It will also contain a key and some content.
Each cache element is reference counted and contains
expiry and update times for use in cache management.
2/ A cache needs a "cache_detail" structure that
describes the cache. This stores the hash table, and some
parameters for cache management.
3/ A cache needs a lookup function. This is created using
the DefineCacheLookup macro. This lookup function is used both
to find entries and to update entries. The normal mode for
updating an entry is to replace the old entry with a new
entry. However it is possible to allow update-in-place
for those caches where it makes sense (no atomicity issues
or indirect reference counting issue)
4/ A cache needs to be registered using cache_register(). This
includes in on a list of caches that will be regularly
cleaned to discard old data. For this to work, some
thread must periodically call cache_clean
Using a cache
To find a value in a cache, call the lookup function passing it a the
datum which contains key, and possibly content, and a flag saying
whether to update the cache with new data from the datum. Depending
on how the cache lookup function was defined, it may take an extra
argument to identify the particular cache in question.
Except in cases of kmalloc failure, the lookup function
will return a new datum which will store the key and
may contain valid content, or may not.
This datum is typically passed to cache_check which determines the
validity of the datum and may later initiate an upcall to fill
in the data.
cache_check can be passed a "struct cache_req *". This structure is
typically embedded in the actual request and can be used to create a
deferred copy of the request (struct cache_deferred_req). This is
done when the found cache item is not uptodate, but the is reason to
believe that userspace might provide information soon. When the cache
item does become valid, the deferred copy of the request will be
revisited (->revisit). It is expected that this method will
reschedule the request for processing.
Populating a cache
Each cache has a name, and when the cache is registered, a directory
with that name is created in /proc/net/rpc
This directory contains a file called 'channel' which is a channel
for communicating between kernel and user for populating the cache.
This directory may later contain other files of interacting
with the cache.
The 'channel' works a bit like a datagram socket. Each 'write' is
passed as a whole to the cache for parsing and interpretation.
Each cache can treat the write requests differently, but it is
expected that a message written will contain:
- a key
- an expiry time
- a content.
with the intention that an item in the cache with the give key
should be create or updated to have the given content, and the
expiry time should be set on that item.
Reading from a channel is a bit more interesting. When a cache
lookup fail, or when it suceeds but finds an entry that may soon
expiry, a request is lodged for that cache item to be updated by
user-space. These requests appear in the channel file.
Successive reads will return successive requests.
If there are no more requests to return, read will return EOF, but a
select or poll for read will block waiting for another request to be
Thus a user-space helper is likely to:
open the channel.
select for readable
read a request
write a response
If it dies and needs to be restarted, any requests that have not be
answered will still appear in the file and will be read by the new
instance of the helper.
Each cache should define a "cache_parse" method which takes a message
written from user-space and processes it. It should return an error
(which propagates back to the write syscall) or 0.
Each cache should also define a "cache_request" method which
takes a cache item and encodes a request into the buffer
Note: If a cache has no active readers on the channel, and has had not
active readers for more than 60 seconds, further requests will not be
added to the channel but instead all looks that do not find a valid
entry will fail. This is partly for backward compatibility: The
previous nfs exports table was deemed to be authoritative and a
failed lookup meant a definite 'no'.
request/response format
While each cache is free to use it's own format for requests
and responses over channel, the following is recommended are
appropriate and support routines are available to help:
Each request or response record should be printable ASCII
with precisely one newline character which should be at the end.
Fields within the record should be separated by spaces, normally one.
If spaces, newlines, or nul characters are needed in a field they
much be quotes. two mechanisms are available:
1/ If a field begins '\x' then it must contain an even number of
hex digits, and pairs of these digits provide the bytes in the
2/ otherwise a \ in the field must be followed by 3 octal digits
which give the code for a byte. Other characters are treated
as them selves. At the very least, space, newlines nul, and
'\' must be quoted in this way.