Re: [PATCHES] Infrastructure changes for recovery

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: Simon Riggs <simon(at)2ndQuadrant(dot)com>
Cc: List pgsql-patches <pgsql-patches(at)postgresql(dot)org>, pgsql-hackers <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: [PATCHES] Infrastructure changes for recovery
Date: 2008-09-25 22:28:39
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Simon Riggs <simon(at)2ndQuadrant(dot)com> writes:
> Version 7

After reading this for awhile, I realized that there is a rather
fundamental problem with it: it switches into "consistent recovery"
mode as soon as it's read WAL beyond ControlFile->minRecoveryPoint.
In a crash recovery situation that typically is before the last
checkpoint (if indeed it's not still zero), and what that means is
that this patch will activate the bgwriter and start letting in
backends instantaneously after a crash, long before we can have any
certainty that the DB state really is consistent.

In a normal crash recovery situation this would be easily fixed by
simply not letting it go to "consistent recovery" state at all, but
what about recovery from a restartpoint? We don't want a slave that's
crashed once to never let backends in again. But I don't see how to
determine that we're far enough past the restartpoint to be consistent
again. In crash recovery we assume (without proof ;-)) that we're
consistent once we reach the end of valid-looking WAL, but that rule
doesn't help for a slave that's following a continuing WAL sequence.

Perhaps something could be done based on noting when we have to pull in
a WAL segment from the recovery_command, but it sounds like a pretty
fragile assumption.

Anyway, that's sufficiently bad that I'm bouncing the patch for
reconsideration. Some other issues I noted before giving up:

* I'm a bit uncomfortable with the fact that the
IsRecoveryProcessingMode flag is read and written with no lock.
There's no atomicity or concurrent-write problem, sure, but on
a multiprocessor with weak memory ordering guarantees (eg PPC)
readers could get a fairly stale value of the flag. The false
to true transition happens before anyone except the startup process is
running, so that's no problem; the net effect is then that backends
might think that recovery mode was still active for awhile after it
wasn't. This seems a bit scary, eg in the patch as it stands that'll
disable XLogFlush calls that should have happened. You could fix that
by grabbing/releasing some spinlock (any old one) around the accesses,
but are any of the call sites performance-critical? The one in
XLogInsert looks like it is, if nothing else.

* I kinda think you broke XLogFlush anyway. It's certainly clear
that the WARNING case at the bottom is unreachable with the patch,
and I think that means that you've messed up an important error
robustness behavior. Is it still possible to get out of recovery mode
if there are any bad LSNs in the shared buffer pool?

* The use of InRecovery in CreateCheckPoint seems pretty bogus, since
that function can be called from the bgwriter in which the flag will
never be true. Either this needs to be IsRecoveryProcessingMode(),
or it's useless because we'll never create ordinary checkpoints until
after subtrans.c is up anyway.

* The patch moves the clearing of InRecovery from after to before
StartupCLOG, RecoverPreparedTransactions, etc. Is that really a
good idea? It makes it hard for those modules to know if they are
coming up after a normal or recovery startup. I think they may not
care at the moment, but I'd leave that alone without a darn good
reason to change it.

* The comment about CheckpointLock being only pro forma is now wrong,
if you are going to use locking it to implement a delay in exitRecovery.
But I don't understand why the delay there. If it's needed, seems like
the path where a restartpoint *isn't* in progress is wrong --- don't you
actually need to start one and wait for it? Also I note that if the
LWLockConditionalAcquire succeeds, you neglect to release the lock,
which surely can't be right.

* The tail end of StartupXLOG() looks pretty unsafe to me. Surely
we mustn't clear IsRecoveryProcessingMode until after we have
established the safe-recovery checkpoint. The comments there seem to
be only vaguely related to the current state of the patch, too.

* Logging of recoveryLastXTime seems pretty bogus now. It's supposed to
be associated with a restartpoint completion report, but now it's just
out in the ether somewhere and doesn't represent a guarantee that we're
synchronized that far.

* backup.sgml needs to be updated to say that log_restartpoints is

* There are a bunch of disturbing assumptions in the SLRU-related
modules about their StartUp calls being executed without any concurrent
access. This isn't really a problem that needs to be dealt with in this
patch, I think, but that will all have to be cleaned up before we dare
allow any backends to run concurrently with recovery. btree's
suppression of relcache invals for metapage updates will be a problem

regards, tom lane

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