Creation of an empty table is not fsync'd at checkpoint

From: Heikki Linnakangas <hlinnaka(at)iki(dot)fi>
To: pgsql-hackers <pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Creation of an empty table is not fsync'd at checkpoint
Date: 2022-01-27 17:55:45
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If you create an empty table, it is not fsync'd. As soon as you insert a
row to it, register_dirty_segment() gets called, and after that, the
next checkpoint will fsync it. But before that, the creation itself is
never fsync'd. That's obviously not great.

The lack of an fsync is a bit hard to prove because it requires a
hardware failure, or a simulation of it, and can be affected by
filesystem options too. But I was able to demonstrate a problem with
these steps:

1. Create a VM with two virtual disks. Use ext4, with 'data=writeback'
option (I'm not sure if that's required). Install PostgreSQL on one of
the virtual disks.

2. Start the server, and create a tablespace on the other disk:

CREATE TABLESPACE foospc LOCATION '/data/heikki';

3. Do this:

CREATE TABLE foo (i int) TABLESPACE foospc;

4. Immediately after that, kill the VM. I used:

killall -9 qemu-system-x86_64

5. Restart the VM, restart PostgreSQL. Now when you try to use the
table, you get an error:

postgres=# select * from crashtest ;
ERROR: could not open file "pg_tblspc/81921/PG_15_202201271/5/98304":
No such file or directory

I was not able to reproduce this without the tablespace on a different
virtual disk, I presume because ext4 orders the writes so that the
checkpoint implicitly always flushes the creation of the file to disk. I
tried data=writeback but it didn't make a difference. But with a
separate disk, it happens every time.

I think the simplest fix is to call register_dirty_segment() from
mdcreate(). As in the attached. Thoughts?

- Heikki

Attachment Content-Type Size
0001-Ensure-that-creation-of-an-empty-relfile-is-fsync-d-.patch text/x-patch 1.1 KB


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