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From: Shawn Pearce <>
To: Jeff King <>
Cc: Junio C Hamano <>, git <>,
	Michael Haggerty <>,
	David Borowitz <>
Subject: Re: reftable [v4]: new ref storage format
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2017 15:17:37 -0700	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 1:28 PM, Jeff King <> wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 02, 2017 at 12:50:39PM -0700, Junio C Hamano wrote:
>> With the traditional "packed-refs plus loose" layout, no matter how
>> many times a handful of selected busy refs are updated during the
>> day, you'd need to open at most two files to find out the current
>> value of a single ref (admittedly, the accessing of the second file,
>> after we realize that there is no loose one, would be very costly).
>> If you make a few commits on a topic branch A, then build a 100
>> commit series on top of another topic branch B, finding the current
>> value of A is still one open and read of refs/heads/A.
>> With the reftable format, we'd need to open and read all 100
>> incremental transactions that touch branch B before realizing that
>> none of them talk about A, and read the next transaction file to
>> find the current value of A.  To keep this number low, we'd need
>> quite a frequent compaction.
> I think this is where compaction cleverness can come in.
> One relatively easy optimization would be to note when the most recent
> reftable contains a subset of the refs we are currently updating (and
> the obvious string-of-updates to a single ref falls under that), and do
> a "quick" compaction where we simply drop[1] that reftable in favor of
> ours. That compaction is essentially free, because we know those entries
> aren't valid anymore anyway.
> I'm actually not sure if this is a strict "drop", though, because of
> reflogs. If the reflog is written into the same file as the ref update,
> then you'd need to roll its entry into your new update, too. But see
> below anyway.
> For more complicated cases, there's some cleverness you can do with
> small on-the-fly compactions. Even if there are entries in the last few
> reftables that we're not currently updating, it's pretty cheap to roll a
> few of them up into our new reftable if it lets us drop some
> intermediate reftables. E.g., if we're writing a new reftable with a 4K
> block size but only have 100 bytes of new data, we're probably best to
> roll up a previous 500-byte reftable.
> That one's an obvious optimization because we know that the filesystem
> is going to make us spend 4K either way, so rounding up to that is
> generally free-ish.

Yes. I was trying to propose exactly this in the first draft of
reftable, but someone on list didn't like the idea of an update
transaction stalling to perform a compaction, so I took that text out
in later drafts.

What I had envisioned is exactly what you mention; an update of
refs/heads/B that is just going to overlay another small reftable that
also recently updated refs/heads/B should just replace that table
instead of pushing onto the stack. Or if the combined top of stack +
new table is under 4K, they should just combine together instead of
pushing a new table onto the stack.

> What's less obvious is when we should roll up a bunch of 4K tables into
> one (let's say) 32K table.  I think there's a formula for doing this
> geometrically so that the amortized cost of writing stays under a
> certain bound (linear?). But I haven't thought it through (or looked it
> up); I was hoping Shawn had already done so and could dump that wisdom
> on us.

Sorry, I haven't done that. :)

>> We can just declare that reftable format is not for desktop clients
>> but for server implementations where frequent compaction would not
>> be an annoyance to the users, but I'd wish we do not have to.
> Yeah, I agree we should avoid that. I would love to eventually kill off
> the loose/packed backend (or at least make it historical and read-only,
> so that a reasonable response to people complaining about its races and
> lack of atomicity is "please upgrade to reftables").

I'd also really like reftable to be useful for "desktop clients". I'd
consider it something of a design failure if the format was horribly
unsuitable in some way to that use case. I think the small compactions
during updates will be essential to supporting the typical developer's

  reply	other threads:[~2017-08-03 22:18 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 34+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2017-07-31  3:51 Shawn Pearce
2017-07-31 17:41 ` Dave Borowitz
2017-07-31 19:01 ` Stefan Beller
2017-07-31 23:05   ` Shawn Pearce
2017-07-31 19:42 ` Junio C Hamano
2017-07-31 23:43   ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-01 16:08     ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-01  6:41 ` Michael Haggerty
2017-08-01 20:23   ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-02  0:49     ` Michael Haggerty
2017-08-01 23:27   ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-01 23:54     ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-02  1:51     ` Michael Haggerty
2017-08-02  2:38       ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-02  9:28         ` Jeff King
2017-08-02 15:17           ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-02 16:51             ` Junio C Hamano
2017-08-02 17:28             ` Jeff King
2017-08-02 12:20         ` Dave Borowitz
2017-08-02 17:18           ` Jeff King
2017-08-03 18:38         ` Michael Haggerty
2017-08-03 22:26           ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-03 22:48             ` Michael Haggerty
2017-08-04  2:50               ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-05 21:00       ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-01 13:54 ` Dave Borowitz
2017-08-01 15:27   ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-02 19:50 ` Junio C Hamano
2017-08-02 20:28   ` Jeff King
2017-08-03 22:17     ` Shawn Pearce [this message]
2017-08-03  1:50   ` Junio C Hamano
2017-08-03  2:21     ` Shawn Pearce
2017-08-03  2:36       ` Junio C Hamano
2017-08-02 19:54 ` Stefan Beller

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