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A totally proof-of-concept FoundationDB based NBD backend

I wanted to play around with FoundationDB a bit more and building a network block device (NBD) backend seemed like a good fit for that.

Do not use this in production, unless you like data loss, kernel crashes and you don't mind if your house burns down.

If you're interested in a more serious implementation, have a look at


  • Install FoundationDB.
  • Run It will start a local TCP server on port 10809 (default NBD port).
  • Load the nbd kernel module.
  • Run nbd-client -N example /dev/nbd0. This will initialize the network block device /dev/nbd0 and point it to the started python server.
  • You might now format /dev/nbd0 with any filesystem and mount it.

Cleaning up

  • Unmount your filesystem
  • Run nbd-client -d /dev/nbd0 to disconnect the block device from the server

Worth noting

  • The server can handle multiple block device "stores" at once. In the above example, example got selected with the -N argument of nbd-client. Have a look at the source code of to see how this is initialized.
  • You can list all other available "stores" with nbd-client -l
  • The server is hardcoded to use a blocksize of 1024. Each block is stored in its own FoundationDB key ('dev', 'example', 'blocks', block_nr). Partial reads or writes of blocks are not supported.
  • Since it's possible, I just compress/decompress each key before set/get. Yay.
  • It's interesting to see how block device caching works. File system actions often don't directly cause block device operations. Play around with sync and flushing the cache echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches for maximum effect.
  • Don't suddenly stop the server or disconnect with nbd-client. The kernel can be a bit sensitive about this. I've had unkillable processes as a result and a kernel OOPS. You have been warned.
  • Performance isn't too good, at least in my tests. It's around 10MB/s or so with a locally running FoundationDB. But hey: It works :-)


A totally proof-of-concept FoundationDB based network block device backend




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