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RE: Proposal: More flexible backup/restore via pg_dump

From: Peter Mount <petermount(at)it(dot)maidstone(dot)gov(dot)uk>
To: "'Philip Warner'" <pjw(at)rhyme(dot)com(dot)au>, Giles Lean <giles(at)nemeton(dot)com(dot)au>
Cc: Zeugswetter Andreas SB <ZeugswetterA(at)wien(dot)spardat(dot)at>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: RE: Proposal: More flexible backup/restore via pg_dump
Date: 2000-06-27 09:55:28
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Lists: pgsql-hackers
comments prefixed with PM...

Peter Mount
Enterprise Support
Maidstone Borough Council
Any views stated are my own, and not those of Maidstone Borough Council

-----Original Message-----
From: Philip Warner [mailto:pjw(at)rhyme(dot)com(dot)au]
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2000 10:07 AM
To: Giles Lean
Cc: Zeugswetter Andreas SB; pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] Proposal: More flexible backup/restore via

At 07:00 27/06/00 +1000, Giles Lean wrote:
>Are you are also assuming that a backup fits in a single file,
>i.e. that anyone with >2GB of backup has some sort of large file

That's up to the format used to save the database; in the case of the
'custom' format, yes. But that is the size after compression. This is not
substantially different to pg_dump's behaviour, except that pg_dump can be
piped to a tape drive...

PM: So can most other Unix based formats. On the intranet server here, I
pg_dump into /tmp, then include them in a tar piped to the tape drive.

The objective of the API components are to (a) make it very easy to add new
metadata to dump (eg. tablespaces), and (b) make it easy to add new output
formats (eg. tar archives). Basically the metadata dumping side makes one
call to register the thing to be saved, passing an optional function
pointer to dump data (eg. table contents) - this *could* even be used to
implement dumping of BLOBs.

PM: The problem with blobs hasn't been with dumping them (I have some Java
code that does it into a compressed zip file), but restoring them - you
can't create a blob with a specific OID, so any references in existing
tables will break. I currently get round it by updating the tables after the
restore - but it's ugly and easy to break :(

The 'archiver' format provider must have some basic IO routines:
Read/WriteBuf and Read/WriteByte and has a number of hook functions which
it can use to output the data. It needs to provide at least one function
that actually writes data somewhere. It also has to provide the associated
function to read the data.

PM: Having a set of api's (either accessible directly into the backend,
and/or via some fastpath call) would be useful indeed.

>As someone else answered: no.  You can't portably assume random access
>to tape blocks.

This is probably an issue. One of the motivations for this utility it to
allow partial restores (eg. table data for one table only), and
arbitrarilly ordered restores. But I may have a solution:

PM: That would be useful. I don't know about CPIO, but tar stores the TOC at
the start of each file (so you can actually join two tar files together and
still read all the files). In this way, you could put the table name as the
"filename" in the header, so partial restores could be done.

write the schema and TOC out at the start of the file/tape, then compressed
data with headers for each indicating which TOC item they correspond to.
This metadata can be loaded into /tmp, so fseek is possible. The actual
data restoration (assuming constraints are not defined [THIS IS A PROBLEM])
can be done by scanning the rest of the tape in it's own order since RI
will not be an issue. I think I'm happy with this.

PM: How about IOCTL's? I know that ArcServe on both NT & Unixware can seek
through the tape, so there must be a way of doing it.


>Using either tar or cpio format as defined for POSIX would allow a lot
>of us to understand your on-tape format with a very low burden on you
>for documentation.  (If you do go this route you might want to think
>about cpio format; it is less restrictive about filename length than

Tom Lane was also very favorably disposed to tar format. As I said above,
the archive interfaces should be pretty amenable to adding tar support -
it's just I'd like to get a version working with custom and directory based
formats to ensure the flexibility is there. As I see it, the 'backup to
directory' format should be easy to use as a basis for the 'backup to tar'

PM: I don't see a problem there. The Java stuff I have use the standard package wich has a simple api for zip files. Tar or most other
formats could be implemented in a similar compatible fashion.

The problem I have with tar is that it does not support random access to
the associated data. For reordering large backups, or (ultimately) single
BLOB extraction, this is a performance problem.

PM: Tar can do this sequentially, which I've had to do many times over the
years - restoring just one file from a tape, sequential access is probably
the only way.

If you have a tar spec (or suitably licenced code), please mail it to me,
and I'll be able to make more informed comments.

PM: The tar spec should be around somewhere - just be careful, the obvious
source I was thinking of would be GPL'd, and we don't want to be poluted :-)


Philip Warner                    |     __---_____
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