6.033 | Spring 2018 | Undergraduate
Computer System Engineering
Week 9: Distributed Systems Part II

Log-Structured File System (LFS) Assignment

Read “Log-Structured File Systems (PDF)” by R. & A. Arpaci-Dusseau

The Log-Structured File System departs dramatically from the UNIX File System and proposes, instead, a file system in which all of the data is stored in an append-only log, that is, a flat file that can be modified only by having data added to the end of it. In Chapter 9, we also hear about logs, specifically how they help achieve reliability. For today’s reading, the purpose of the log is to achieve good performance.

The primary goal of a log-structured file system is to minimize seeks by treating the disk as an infinite append-only log. For example, the file system software simply appends new files to the end of the log.

As you read, think about the following:

  • The “infinite log” is actually on a finite disk; how does that constraint affect the designers’ goals?
  • Are there certain file access patterns by applications might make it hard for a log-structured file system to avoid seeks?

Questions for Recitation

Before you come to this recitation, write up (on paper) a brief answer to the following (really—we don’t need more than a couple sentences for each question). 

Your answers to these questions should be in your own words, not direct quotations from the paper.

  • What is one technique that the log-structure filesystem uses to achieve higher performance? (There is more than one technique.)
  • How does the log-structured file system implement this technique?
  • Why does this technique, along with minimizing seeks, lead to good performance?

As always, there are multiple correct answers for each of these questions.

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Spring 2018
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