Automatic lustre striping during file creation when using bzip2, gzip, rsync, and tar
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Restriping Tools for Lustre (Retools)

Modern parallel file systems achieve high performance by distributing ("striping") the contents of a single file across multiple physical disks to overcome single disk I/O bandwidth limitations. The striping characteristics of a file determine how many disks it will be striped across and how large each stripe is. These characteristics can only be set at the time a file is created so cannot be changed later on. Standard open source tools do not typically take striping into account when creating files meaning that files created by those tools will have their striping characteristics set to the default. The default stripe count is typically set to a small number to favor small files that are more numerous. A small default stripe count, however, penalizes large files that use the default settings as they will be striped over fewer disks, hence access to these files will only achieve a fraction of the performance that is possible with a larger stripe count. A large default stripe count, however, causes small files to be striped over too many disks, which increases contention and reduces the performance of the file system as a whole.

To maximize I/O performance for large files while keeping the default stripe count low for small files, a set of modifications, called Retools, have been made to some open source utilities that are commonly used with large files in high performance computing environments. These modifications make the tools "stripe-aware" so they can set an optimum stripe size for each file created instead of using the default striping. The currently supported utilities are bzip2, gzip, rsync, and tar. The compression utilities bzip2 and gzip set the striping of the compressed/decompressed file based on the size of the corresponding decompressed/compressed file, respectively. The synchronization utility rsync sets the striping of each destination file based on the size of the corresponding source file. Finally, the archival utility tar sets the striping of each archived/extracted file based on the size of the corresponding source/archived file, respectively.

Note that a stripe-aware version of cp is available in a separate project at

The benefit of using these tools is that files on Lustre file systems are created/extracted with a stripe count appropriate for their size. This means they will be striped across more physical disks and operations on these files will achieve greater I/O performance.

For full details of the implementation and expected performance, see For installation details, see "INSTALL". For usage details, see the standard documentation of each individual tool.

Questions, comments, fixes, and/or enhancements welcome.

--Paul Kolano