Wandering Thoughts archives


ZFS on Linux's sharenfs problem (of what you can and can't put in it)

ZFS has an idea of 'properties' for both pools and filesystems. To quote from the Illumos zfs manpage:

Properties are divided into two types, native properties and user-defined (or "user") properties. Native properties either export internal statistics or control ZFS behavior. [...]

Filesystem properties are used to control things like whether compression is on, where a ZFS filesystem is mounted, if it is read-only or not, and so on. One of those properties is called sharenfs; it controls whether or not the filesystem is NFS exported, and what options it's exported with. One of the advantages of having ZFS manage this for you through the sharenfs property is that ZFS will automatically share and unshare things as the ZFS pool and filesystem are available or not available; you don't have to try to coordinate the state of your NFS shares and your ZFS filesystem mounts.

As I write this, the current ZFS on Linux zfs manpage says this about sharenfs:

Controls whether the file system is shared via NFS, and what options are to be used. [...] If the property is set to on, the dataset is shared using the default options:


See exports(5) for the meaning of the default options. Otherwise, the exportfs(8) command is invoked with options equivalent to the contents of this property.

That's very interesting wording. It's also kind of a lie, because ZFS on Linux caught itself in a compatibility bear trap (or so I assume).

This wording is essentially the same as the wording in Illumos (and in the original Solaris manpages). On Solaris, the sharenfs property is passed more or less straight to share_nfs as the NFS share options in its -o argument, and as a result what you put in sharenfs is just those options. This makes sense; the original Solaris version of ZFS was not created to be portable to other Unixes, so it made no attempt to have its sharenfs (or sharesmb) be Unix-independent. It was part of Solaris, so what went into sharenfs was Solaris NFS share options, including obscure ones.

It would have been natural of ZFS on Linux to take the same attitude towards what went into sharenfs on Linux, and indeed the current wording of the manpage sort of implies that this is what's happening and that you can simply use what you'd put in exports(5). Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, ZFS on Linux attempts to interpret your sharenfs setting as OmniOS NFS share options and tries to convert them to equivalent Linux options.

(I assume that this was done to make it theoretically easier to move pools and filesystems between ZoL and Illumos/Solaris ZFS, because the sharenfs property would mean the same thing and be interpreted the same way on both systems. Moving filesystems back and forth is not as crazy as it sounds, given zfs send and zfs receive.)

There are two problems with this. The first is that the conversion process doesn't handle all of the Illumos NFS share options. Some it will completely reject or fail on (they're just totally unsupported), while others it will accept but produce incorrect conversions that don't work. The set of accepted and properly handled conversions is not documented and is unlikely to ever be. The second problem is that Linux can do things with NFS share options that Illumos doesn't support (the reverse is true too, but less directly relevant). Since ZFS on Linux provides you no way to directly set Linux share options, you can't use these Linux specific NFS share options at all through sharenfs.

Effectively what the current ZFS on Linux approach does is that it restricts you to an undocumented subset of the Illumos NFS share options are supported by Linux and correctly converted by ZoL. If you're doing anything at all sophisticated with your NFS sharing options (as we are), this means that using sharenfs on Linux is simply not an option. We're going to have to roll our own NFS share option handling and management system, which is a bit irritating.

(We're also going to have to make sure that we block or exclude sharenfs properties from being transferred from our OmniOS fileservers to our ZoL fileservers during 'zfs send | zfs receive' copies, which is a problem that hadn't occurred to me until I wrote this entry.)

PS: There is an open ZFS on Linux issue to fix the documentation; it includes mentions of some mis-parsing sharenfs bugs. I may even have the time and energy to contribute a patch at some point.

PPS: Probably what we should do is embed our Linux NFS share options as a ZFS filesystem user property. This would at least allow our future management system to scan the current ZFS filesystems to see what the active NFS shares and share options should be, as opposed to having to also consult and trust some additional source of information for that.

linux/ZFSOnLinuxSharenfsProblem written at 01:03:29; Add Comment

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