Re: basebackups during ALTER DATABASE ... SET TABLESPACE ... not safe?

From: Andres Freund <andres(at)2ndquadrant(dot)com>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: basebackups during ALTER DATABASE ... SET TABLESPACE ... not safe?
Date: 2015-01-22 18:56:07
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On 2015-01-20 16:28:19 +0100, Andres Freund wrote:
> I'm analyzing a problem in which a customer had a pg_basebackup (from
> standby) created 9.2 cluster that failed with "WAL contains references to
> invalid pages". The failed record was a "xlog redo visible"
> First I thought there might be another bug along the line of
> 17fa4c321cc. Looking at the code and the WAL that didn't seem to be the
> case (man, I miss pg_xlogdump). Other, slightly older, standbys, didn't
> seem to have any problems.
> Logs show that a ALTER DATABASE ... SET TABLESPACE ... was running when
> the basebackup was started and finished *before* pg_basebackup finished.
> movedb() basically works in these steps:
> 1) lock out users of the database
> 2) RequestCheckpoint(IMMEDIATE|WAIT)
> 3) DropDatabaseBuffers()
> 4) copydir()
> 6) RequestCheckpoint(CHECKPOINT_IMMEDIATE)
> 7) rmtree(src_dbpath)
> 8) XLogInsert(XLOG_DBASE_DROP)
> 9) unlock database
> If a basebackup starts while 4) is in progress and continues until 7)
> happens I think a pretty wide race opens: The basebackup can end up with
> a partial copy of the database in the old tablespace because the
> rmtree(old_path) concurrently was in progress. Normally such races are
> fixed during replay. But in this case, the replay of the
> XLOG_DBASE_CREATE will just try to do a rmtree(new); copydiar(old, new);.
> fixing nothing.
> Besides making AD .. ST use sane WAL logging, which doesn't seem
> backpatchable, I don't see what could be done against this except
> somehow making basebackups fail if a AD .. ST is in progress. Which
> doesn't look entirely trivial either.

I basically have two ideas to fix this.

1) Make do_pg_start_backup() acquire a SHARE lock on
pg_database. That'll prevent it from starting while a movedb() is
still in progress. Then additionally add pg_backup_in_progress()
function to xlog.c that checks (XLogCtl->Insert.exclusiveBackup ||
XLogCtl->Insert.nonExclusiveBackups != 0). Use that in createdb() and
movedb() to error out if a backup is in progress.

Not pretty, but sounds doable.

We've discussed trying to sleep instead of erroring out in movedb(),
while a base backup is in progress, but that's nontrivial. I also
don't think ALTER DATABASE is ever intentionally run at the time of a
base backup.

2) Make movedb() (and possibly created(), not sure yet) use proper WAL
logging and log the whole copied data. I think this is the right long
term fix and would end up being much more reliable. But it either
requires some uglyness during redo (creating nonexistant database
directories on the fly during redo) or new wal records.

Doable, but probably too large/invasive to backpatch.

Thanks for Alvaro and Petr for discussing the problem.

I lean towards doing 1) in all branches and then doing 2) in master.


Andres Freund

Andres Freund
PostgreSQL Development, 24x7 Support, Training & Services

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