[RFC] UBIFS recovery

Richard Weinberger richard at nod.at
Mon Feb 9 03:04:00 PST 2015

Am 09.02.2015 um 09:26 schrieb Artem Bityutskiy:
> On Mon, 2015-02-09 at 08:56 +0100, Richard Weinberger wrote:
>> Am 09.02.2015 um 04:00 schrieb hujianyang:
>>>> This is what fsck.ubifs should to. I was talking about a debugfs.ubifs which
>>>> is able to extract files, ask questions, and tell the user what exactly is going
>>>> wrong. Like "yes, I can dump you file /foo/bar.dat but rage 5m to 10m maybe be corrupted and the xattrs are gone".
>>> Er, maybe I know what you mean.
>>> So you think by debugfs.ubifs, we could get wanted file out from a partition
>>> without mounting it? and do other things like (?)
>> This is the use case of a debugfs. See debugfs.ext2/3/4, etc...
>> You can debug (analyze, get files your, etc...) from a broken filesystem
>> without mounting it.
> Lets consider hypothetical 2 gadgets using UBIFS: R-gadget and H-gadget.
> 1. R-gadget has UBIFS which refuses to mount whenever there is any
> unexpected corruption.
> 2. H-gadget tries hard to mount in R/O mode and let the rest of the SW
> stack have a file-system.
> H-gadget is resilient. When things go wrong with the storage, it still
> manages to boot, show a dialog explaining that there is a problem, let
> users fetch all the important files, and then either reset to factory
> defaults, or bring the device to the service point.

The questions is, can we achieve that?
Just falling to R/O and continue is not good enough.
What if the "/" inode or /lib/libc*so is broken?
Just by falling back to R/O the target won't magically be in a consistent

> R-gadget, on the opposite, just does not boot when there are issues.
> Users see nothing on the screen. When they google for "R-gadget does not
> boot", they hit some forum discussions, very technical, talking about
> some "debugfs", which is very confusing.

It is not our job to make sure what users will find if they google for something. ;)

In contrast to the H-Gadget, the R-Gadget can print a perfectly sane message to the user.
Use a initramfs to mount UBIFS, it if fails display a nice message to the user that something
major went wrong...
On the other hand, the H-Gadget will continue to some point, fail or maybe not fail.

> The new generation of R-gadget, however, does better job. Unlike the
> first generation, shipped under tight TTM requirements, the second
> generation gave the vendor a bit more time to polish it. So the vendor
> managed to use "debugfs" stuff, and now R-gadget. But unfortunately,
> this feature stopped working after first system upgrade, because of a
> bug (probably not enough testing). The R-gadgets was asking strange
> question about moving some "inodes" from a broken "bud". But the input
> did not work, and users anyway had hard time understanding "inodes" and
> "buds" (they thought and inoed is some kind of flower).
> Anyway, the message is: I'd prefer H-gadget :-)

My points are:
- If UBIFS can do a better job in dealing with corruptions, fix/improve it.
- Having a debugfs/fsck would be a good tool for people like me that have to analyze/fix UBI/UBIFS failures.
- Having an UBIFS "force" mode *will* be abused in horrid ways. I agree that I'm a bit biased on that, maybe because I've seen too much
horror hacks from embedded vendors to make their devices somehow passing the QA (quote: "just make it boot to pass all tests").
Of course all these "just make it boot" hacks failed later due to undetected major corruptions as the filesystem consistency was gone a long time ago,
but it booted somehow a few more days.^^


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