LogCabin.appendEntry(6, "Preparing for 1.0")

| raft logcabin

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts detailing the ongoing development of LogCabin. This entry describes progress towards the upcoming 1.0.0 release of LogCabin, a useful new command-line client to access LogCabin, and several other improvements.

Upcoming 1.0.0 Release

We're pushing for a 1.0.0 release of LogCabin in the coming weeks. It's close. Milestone 1.0.0 on GitHub tracks the release-blocking issues (there are currently 7 open). Scale will be rolling this out to QA and eventually to customers, so we want to make sure it's ready. This has meant additional testing and bug fixing, but also adding support for rolling upgrades.

Most of the testing we've been doing uses Scale's internal testing system, but I've also added two tests to LogCabin itself: an end-to-end test that repeatedly kills servers, and a test that reconfigures the cluster repeatedly.

Up until now, LogCabin has not supported upgrades in any way from one commit to the next. For example, a commit changing the format on disk would require deleting a server's entire storage directory; a commit changing the network protocol would require a complete outage. In some cases, upgrades could only be done destructively.

Now that 1.0 is coming up, this is no longer suitable. LogCabin will continue to evolve over time, but it needs to provide clear and easy upgrade paths. One of Scale's key features is non-destructive upgrades, where the cluster software can be upgraded with no loss in availability. As LogCabin will be a part of this software stack, it too needs to support rolling upgrades, during which clients and servers may support different versions of the network protocols.

Issue 99 and the related issues track the work of versioning various formats and protocols in LogCabin. LogCabin will use Semantic Versioning for its release numbering, and the new RELEASES.md file describes the various pieces that make up LogCabin's public API. That file will also include release and upgrade notes moving forwards.

Command-Line Client

LogCabin now includes a command-line client that allows accessing and modifying the replicated state machine's tree data structure from the shell. This makes it even easier to try out LogCabin. It's built at build/Examples/TreeOps and installed as, simply, /usr/bin/logcabin. Here's an example (after running a LogCabin server on localhost):

$ alias logcabin='build/Examples/TreeOps --quiet --cluster=localhost'
$ logcabin --help
Run various operations on a LogCabin replicated state machine.

Usage: build/Examples/TreeOps [options] <command> [<args>]

  mkdir <path>    If no directory exists at <path>, create it.
  list <path>     List keys within directory at <path>. Alias: ls.
  dump [<path>]   Recursively print keys and values within directory at <path>.
                  Defaults to printing all keys and values from root of tree.
  rmdir <path>    Recursively remove directory at <path>, if any.
                  Alias: removedir.
  write <path>    Set/create value of file at <path> to stdin.
                  Alias: create, set.
  read <path>     Print value of file at <path>. Alias: get.
  remove <path>   Remove file at <path>, if any. Alias: rm, removefile.

  -c <addresses>, --cluster=<addresses>  Network addresses of the LogCabin
                                         servers, comma-separated
                                         [default: logcabin:61023]
  -d <path>, --dir=<path>        Set working directory [default: /]
  -h, --help                     Print this usage information
  -p <pred>, --condition=<pred>  Set predicate on the operation of the
                                 form <path>:<value>, indicating that the key
                                 at <path> must have the given value.
  -q, --quiet                    Suppress NOTICE messages
  -t <time>, --timeout=<time>    Set timeout for the operation
                                 (0 means wait forever) [default: 0s]
$ logcabin mkdir /etc/logcabin
$ date | logcabin write /etc/logcabin/now
$ logcabin read /etc/logcabin/now
Fri Apr  3 14:35:55 PDT 2015
$ logcabin dump /etc
    Fri Apr  3 14:35:55 PDT 2015

$ echo 1337 | logcabin write /etc/passwd
$ logcabin list /etc
$ logcabin dump
    Fri Apr  3 14:35:55 PDT 2015


$ logcabin rmdir /etc/passwd
terminate called after throwing an instance of 'LogCabin::Client::TypeException'
  what():  /etc/passwd is a file
$ logcabin rmdir /
$ logcabin dump

Note that this creates a new client session and connection to the server on every invocation, so I'd advise against using it for operations that are repeated frequently; see also issue 116.

Big State Machines

LogCabin was initially developed to store small amounts of metadata, but some users might want to store more data in it (gigabytes) or they might do so by accident. I want LogCabin 1.0.0 to function with large state machines, just perhaps more slowly or with temporary availability losses. So I tried loading up about 6 GB of keys into a state machine and taking a snapshot. This confirmed a suspicion that large snapshot files wouldn't work when written with ProtoBuf's I/O library, so I switched to reading and writing the files directly. I also added a few messages to the debug log to show progress when reading a large log from disk or loading a large snapshot. Things now seem to function as intended with large state machines and snapshots, but memory usage and availability could be improved in the future; see issues labeled bigdata for more detail.


The TCP connection timeout is now configurable, so that an operation-wide timeout period isn't spent entirely on a single connection attempt.

Skype Xu reported an issue where a std::unique_lock was accidentally not locking anything at all. The one-line patch by Skype Xu was correct, but I also wanted to avoid this problem in the future. C++11 introduced two types of scoped (RAII) objects that lock and then unlock a mutex:

Before, I was using std::unique_lock everywhere in LogCabin. However, std::lock_guard is often sufficient, and it gives better static guarantees: if you have a std::lock_guard instance, you at least know it's locking some mutex. The problem that Skype Xu reported would not have existed with std::lock_guard. So, I switched LogCabin to use std::lock_guard whenever possible, and I'll try to maintain that coding convention moving forwards.

Finally, debug logs can now be better controlled by clients. Clients can control which messages are logged, and they can opt to receive debug log events as a callback, which they can include into their own logging facilities. These things are available in the namespace LogCabin::Client::Debug after including <LogCabin/Debug.h> and <LogCabin/Client.h>.


Next up, I plan to continue the push for 1.0.0 and will hopefully get a release out the door. We might even get a new logo for LogCabin in time; follow this Twitter thread and issue 123 for progress. I'll also be speaking about Raft and LogCabin at the upcoming Sourcegraph Hacker Meetup on April 15th and the CoreOS Fest on May 4th and 5th, both in San Francisco. Thanks to Scale Computing for supporting this work.