Block-Based Distributed File Systems
McGregor, A. J. (1997). Block-Based Distributed File Systems (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2607
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2607
Distributed file systems have become popular because they allow information to be shared be between computers in a natural way. A distributed file system often forms a central building block in a distributed system. Currently most distributed file systems are built using a communications interface that transfers messages about files between machines. This thesis proposes a different, lower level, communications interface. This `block-based' interface exchanges information about the blocks that make up the file but not about the files themselves. No other distributed file system is built this way. By demonstrating that a distributed file system can be implemented in a block-based manner, this thesis opens the way for many advances in distributed file systems. These include a reduction of the processing required at the server, uniformity in managing file blocks and fine-grained placement and replication of data. The simple communications model also lends itself to efficient implementation both at the server and in the communications protocols that support the interface. These advantages come at the cost of a more complex client implementation and the need for a lower level consistency mechanism. A block-based distributed file system (BB-NFS) has been implemented. BB-NFS provides the Unix file system interface and demonstrates the feasibility and implementability of the block-based approach. Experience with the implementation lead to the development of a lock cache mechanism which gives a large improvement in the performance of the prototype. Although it has not been directly measured it is plausible that the prototype will perform better than the file based approach. The block-based approach has much to offer future distributed file system developers. This thesis introduces the approach and its advantages, demonstrates its feasibility and shows that it can be implemented in a way that performs well.
The University of Waikato
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