10.3. Using the Cache with NFS

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NFS will not use the cache unless explicitly instructed. To configure an NFS mount to use FS-Cache, include the -o fsc option to the mount command:
# mount nfs-share:/ /mount/point -o fsc
All access to files under /mount/point will go through the cache, unless the file is opened for direct I/O or writing. For more information, see Section 10.3.2, “Cache Limitations with NFS”. NFS indexes cache contents using NFS file handle, not the file name, which means hard-linked files share the cache correctly.
Caching is supported in version 2, 3, and 4 of NFS. However, each version uses different branches for caching.

10.3.1. Cache Sharing

There are several potential issues to do with NFS cache sharing. Because the cache is persistent, blocks of data in the cache are indexed on a sequence of four keys:
  • Level 1: Server details
  • Level 2: Some mount options; security type; FSID; uniquifier
  • Level 3: File Handle
  • Level 4: Page number in file
To avoid coherency management problems between superblocks, all NFS superblocks that wish to cache data have unique Level 2 keys. Normally, two NFS mounts with same source volume and options share a superblock, and thus share the caching, even if they mount different directories within that volume.

Example 10.1. Cache Sharing

Take the following two mount commands:
mount home0:/disk0/fred /home/fred -o fsc
mount home0:/disk0/jim /home/jim -o fsc
Here, /home/fred and /home/jim likely share the superblock as they have the same options, especially if they come from the same volume/partition on the NFS server (home0). Now, consider the next two subsequent mount commands:
mount home0:/disk0/fred /home/fred -o fsc,rsize=230
mount home0:/disk0/jim /home/jim -o fsc,rsize=231
In this case, /home/fred and /home/jim will not share the superblock as they have different network access parameters, which are part of the Level 2 key. The same goes for the following mount sequence:
mount home0:/disk0/fred /home/fred1 -o fsc,rsize=230
mount home0:/disk0/fred /home/fred2 -o fsc,rsize=231
Here, the contents of the two subtrees (/home/fred1 and /home/fred2) will be cached twice.
Another way to avoid superblock sharing is to suppress it explicitly with the nosharecache parameter. Using the same example:
mount home0:/disk0/fred /home/fred -o nosharecache,fsc
mount home0:/disk0/jim /home/jim -o nosharecache,fsc
However, in this case only one of the superblocks is permitted to use cache since there is nothing to distinguish the Level 2 keys of home0:/disk0/fred and home0:/disk0/jim. To address this, add a unique identifier on at least one of the mounts, i.e. fsc=unique-identifier. For example:
mount home0:/disk0/fred /home/fred -o nosharecache,fsc
mount home0:/disk0/jim /home/jim -o nosharecache,fsc=jim
Here, the unique identifier jim is added to the Level 2 key used in the cache for /home/jim.

10.3.2. Cache Limitations with NFS

  • Opening a file from a shared file system for direct I/O automatically bypasses the cache. This is because this type of access must be direct to the server.
  • Opening a file from a shared file system for writing will not work on NFS version 2 and 3. The protocols of these versions do not provide sufficient coherency management information for the client to detect a concurrent write to the same file from another client.
  • Opening a file from a shared file system for either direct I/O or writing flushes the cached copy of the file. FS-Cache will not cache the file again until it is no longer opened for direct I/O or writing.
  • Furthermore, this release of FS-Cache only caches regular NFS files. FS-Cache will not cache directories, symlinks, device files, FIFOs and sockets.
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