Mnesia partition handler
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This is another approach to make mnesia more partition-tolerant. Results are not 100% accurate (see below for known problems), but it's much better than default "do not even try to recover after split".



This will start reunion in default configuraion, tracking all keys in set and ordered_set tables with default strategy of merge_only and trying to reconnect all not running nodes every net_tick_timeout seconds.

Advanced usage:

reunion tries to detect two types of collisions:

  • INSERT/DELETE collision, when some record is present on one node and not present on another.
  • Data Collision, when some record present on both nodes but contents differ.

In order to resolve first type of collision for set tables, reunion tracks insert and delete operations, storing info about Table, Key, Operation and WhenItHappened in internal ets table. When collision occurs, reunion consults this table trying to determine last event for this key and restores record accordingly (if last found event is 'insert' - record is re-inserted on node it missed, if 'delete' - record is deleted on node it still present).

For bag tables operations are not tracked, and default behaviour is just to merge bags, adding missing elements on node they are not present.

With Data Collision, when elements are present on both nodes with different content, conflict resolution function is called. Default behaviour for set tables is to do nothing but to raise alarm (using sasl alarm_handler), and for bag tables both elements are written on both nodes.

There are two more pre-defined strategies: last_version, that selects "best" record using comparision on some field in the record,

(node@host)>mnesia:write_table_property(kvs, {reunion_compare, 
	{reunion_lib, last_version, [field]}}).

and last_modified (variant of last_version using pre-defined modified field for comparison):

(node@host)>mnesia:write_table_property(kvs, {reunion_compare, 
	{reunion_lib, last_modified, []}}).

These strategies can be used for bag tables too, but configuration is a bit different: to select "best" element among a bag, elements should have some "secondary key" field, and "best" element is selected only among elements with the same "secondary key".

You can define your own conflict resolution functon, which will be called as:

function(init, {Table :: atom(), Type :: 'set' | 'bag', Fields :: list(atom()), 
	RemoteNode :: atom()) -> 
	{ok, Modstate :: any()};
function(done, Modstate :: any(), RemoteNode :: atom()) -> 
function(LocalRecords, RemoteRecord, ModState :: any()) -> 
	{ok, Actions :: reunion:action() | list(reunion:action()), 
		NextState :: any()} | 
	{inconsistency, Error, NextState :: any()}

where Action can be one of

{write_local, Record} | {write_remote, Record} | {delete_local, Record} | 
	{delete_remote, Record}

I hope, the names are self-descriptive enough.

Excluding table from automatic merging:

(node@host)>mnesia:write_table_property(bag, {reunion_compare, ignore}).

This also disables key learning for this table, useable for tables with rapidly changing data.

Disabling or tuning automatic reconnects:

(node@host)>application:set_env(reunion, reconnect, never).

With this setting no new reconnect timers will be scheduled. Other possible setting is custom timeout value in seconds.

Note on fragmented tables:

As user_properties are not auto-propagated to table fragments, compare strategy always inherited from base_table. There are no way to implement custom strategy for some fragment.

Known problems:

Error window: it's possible that some conflicts will not be found or that reunion can introduce missing update problems. This is caused by the fact that no table locking used, so objects in mnesia can be changed after object is fetched for compare but before resulting object is written or before mnesia nodes are joined again.

Another interesting edge case: let's assume netsplit happens right after creating some record and then record is deleted during netsplit. This can be detected and resolved correctly only in case reuinion is running on both nodes and clocks are synchronised. If there are no reunion on island where record is deleted - this deletion will be missed.

Other approaches:

reunion is an "almost complete rewrite" of unsplit by Ulf Wiger. Major difference between our approaches: unsplit uses a stateless approach and just unable to resolve "object present here and not present there" case: this can be a result of local insertion or remote deletion, and it's not possible to determine what happened without storing this information.


Ulf Wiger for his unsplit application.