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Non-transactional pg_class, try 2

From: Alvaro Herrera <alvherre(at)alvh(dot)no-ip(dot)org>
To: Patches <pgsql-patches(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Non-transactional pg_class, try 2
Date: 2006-06-11 21:53:19
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Lists: pgsql-hackerspgsql-patches
Here I repost the patch to implement non-transactional catalogs, the
first of which is pg_ntclass, intended to hold the non-transactional
info about pg_class (reltuples, relpages).

pg_ntclass is a relation of a new relkind, RELKIND_NON_TRANSACTIONAL
(ideas for shorter names welcome).  In pg_class, we store a TID to the
corresponding tuple.  The tuples are not cached; they are obtained by
heap_fetch() each time they are requested.  This may be worth

heap_update refuses to operate on a non-transactional catalog, because
there's no (easy) way to update pg_class accordingly.  This normally
shouldn't be a problem.  vac_update_relstats updates the tuple by using
the new heap_inplace_update call.

VACUUM FULL also refuses to operate on these tables, and ANALYZE
silently skips them.  Only plain VACUUM cleans them.

Note that you can DELETE from pg_ntclass.  Not sure if we should
disallow it somehow, because it's not easy to get out from that if you
do.  (But it's possible -- just insert enough tuples until you reach the
needed TID, and then delete the ones that are not pointed by any
pg_class row).

Regression test pass; I updated the stats test because it was accessing
pg_class.relpages.  So there's already a test to verify that it's

There is one caveat that I'm worried about.  I had to add a "typedef" to
pg_class.h to put ItemPointerData in FormData_pg_class, because the C
struct doesn't recognize the "tid" type, but the bootstrap type system
does not recognize ItemPointerData as a valid type.  I find this mighty
ugly because it will have side effects whenever we #include pg_class.h
(which is virtually anywhere, since that header is #included in htup.h
which in turn is included almost everywhere).  Suggestions welcome.
Maybe this is not a problem.

Other two caveats are: 
1. During bootstrap, RelationBuildLocalRelation creates nailed relations
with hardcoded TID=(0,1).  This is because we don't have access to
pg_class yet, so we can't find the real pointer; and furthermore, we are
going to fix the entries later in the bootstrapping process.

2. The whole VACUUM/VACUUM FULL/ANALYZE relation list stuff is pretty
ugly as well; and autovacuum is skipping pg_ntclass (really all
non-transactional catalogs) altogether.  We could improve the situation
by introducing some sort of struct like {relid, relkind}, so that
vacuum_rel could know what relkind to expect, and it could skip
non-transactional catalogs cleanly in vacuum full and analyze.

I intend to apply this patch by tuesday or wednesday, unless an
objection is raised prior to that.


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