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Old 11-14-2005, 07:25 PM   #1
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Australia
Distribution: Slackware/LFS/Ubuntu
Posts: 89

Rep: Reputation: 15
unionfs stability

Hi all,

I have recently changed my distro over to use unionfs but it is buggy as anything which i know many other distros use it for their root filesystems.

What I used to have was a tmpfs root dir, which i would extract all the readwrite elements in to from a tar file. I would then mount the readonly image to /mnt/readonly, and the tar file would contain symbolic links to all the readwrite parts where needed. This worked but isn't perfect.

What I have now is I mount the readonly image, and an empty readwrite tmpfs, and create a root dir out of both of those using unionfs. This works perfectly up until a certain point. I can't use nfs with it but I am aware of the bug. I can run a shell at the end of startup, and it can run applications for about 1 minute before it will just stall. Why aren't the other distros having this issue?

I am contemplating merging the two ideas in that I keep some readwrite elements in the tmpfs drive, which will prevent unionfs from having to do the whiteout trick - would this "fix" the problem? Or would it be better to use a true ramdisk as the readwrite part, and mount /home and /root as a tmpfs since they're the only "unknown" size dirs. If anyone has any ideas or experience with unionfs then please help!
Old 11-26-2005, 09:37 PM   #2
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Australia
Distribution: Slackware/LFS/Ubuntu
Posts: 89

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
I have solved that problem, it was a php squid redirect script. For some reason (only under unionfs!) it couldn't tell when it had run the maximum 5 simultaneous scripts so it just kept running more. But I have another problem!

For the most part, unionfs seems stable enough in that if something didn't work, I could find a trick or hack to get around the flaw. The majority works though, surprisingly some really complex programs work flawlessly, but there are two programs that I can't work out:


Gaim runs without any warnings or errors, but will not find the protocol libraries in /usr/lib/gaim.

Java and any java application won't work, it just complains about not being able to find "" which is in /usr/lib/java/lib/i386. If I do a "find /usr/lib/java -name" it comes up with nothing, until I create a file in /usr/lib/java/lib/i386 and then find is able to see it.


Those programs both worked perfectly with the old filesystems, and I haven't changed their versions or the way they're compiled at all - the only thing that has changed is that it used to read those files through a symlink to squashfs, but now it's reading the squashfs through an additional unionfs layer. Anyone have any ideas about patches or workarounds for this issue?


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