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* [man-pages RFC PATCH v3] statx, inode: document the STATX_INO_VERSION field
@ 2022-09-06 13:29 Jeff Layton
  0 siblings, 0 replies; only message in thread
From: Jeff Layton @ 2022-09-06 13:29 UTC (permalink / raw)
  To: tytso, adilger.kernel, djwong, david, trondmy, neilb, viro,
	zohar, xiubli, chuck.lever, lczerner, jack, bfields, brauner,
	fweimer, linux-man
  Cc: linux-api, linux-btrfs, linux-fsdevel, linux-kernel, ceph-devel,
	linux-ext4, linux-nfs, linux-xfs

I'm proposing to expose the inode change attribute via statx [1]. Document
what this value means and what an observer can infer from a change in
its value.

Signed-off-by: Jeff Layton <>

 man2/statx.2 |  8 ++++++++
 man7/inode.7 | 34 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 2 files changed, 42 insertions(+)

v3: Move most verbiage to inode(7)
    Clarify that this must be monotonically increasing
    Flesh out usage discussion
    Mention issues with value moving backward and how to combat them

diff --git a/man2/statx.2 b/man2/statx.2
index 0d1b4591f74c..d98d5148a442 100644
--- a/man2/statx.2
+++ b/man2/statx.2
@@ -62,6 +62,7 @@ struct statx {
     __u32 stx_dev_major;   /* Major ID */
     __u32 stx_dev_minor;   /* Minor ID */
     __u64 stx_mnt_id;      /* Mount ID */
+    __u64 stx_ino_version; /* Inode change attribute */
@@ -247,6 +248,7 @@ STATX_BTIME	Want stx_btime
 	It is deprecated and should not be used.
 STATX_MNT_ID	Want stx_mnt_id (since Linux 5.8)
+STATX_INO_VERSION	Want stx_ino_version (DRAFT)
@@ -407,10 +409,16 @@ This is the same number reported by
 .BR name_to_handle_at (2)
 and corresponds to the number in the first field in one of the records in
 .IR /proc/self/mountinfo .
+.I stx_ino_version
+The inode version, also known as the inode change attribute. See
+.BR inode (7)
+for details.
 For further information on the above fields, see
 .BR inode (7).
 .SS File attributes
 .I stx_attributes
diff --git a/man7/inode.7 b/man7/inode.7
index 9b255a890720..80c2ed4acccd 100644
--- a/man7/inode.7
+++ b/man7/inode.7
@@ -184,6 +184,12 @@ Last status change timestamp (ctime)
 This is the file's last status change timestamp.
 It is changed by writing or by setting inode information
 (i.e., owner, group, link count, mode, etc.).
+Inode version (i_version)
+(not returned in the \fIstat\fP structure); \fIstatx.stx_ino_version\fP
+This is the inode change counter. See the discussion of
+\fBthe inode version counter\fP, below.
 The timestamp fields report time measured with a zero point at the
 .IR Epoch ,
@@ -424,6 +430,34 @@ on a directory means that a file
 in that directory can be renamed or deleted only by the owner
 of the file, by the owner of the directory, and by a privileged
+.SS The inode version counter
+.I statx.stx_ino_version
+field is the inode change counter. Any operation that would result in a
+change to \fIstatx.stx_ctime\fP must result in an increase to this value.
+The value must increase even in the case where the ctime change is not
+evident due to coarse timestamp granularity.
+An observer cannot infer anything from amount of increase about the
+nature or magnitude of the change. If the returned value is different
+from the last time it was checked, then something has made an explicit
+data and/or metadata change to the inode.
+In the event of a system crash, this value can appear to go backward,
+if it were queried before ever being written to the backing store. If
+the value were then incremented again after restart, then an observer
+could miss noticing a change.
+In order to guard against this, it is recommended to also watch the
+\fIstatx.stx_ctime\fP for changes when watching this value. As long as the
+system clock doesn't jump backward during the crash, an observer can be
+reasonably sure that the i_version and ctime together represent a unique inode
+The i_version is a Linux extension and is not supported by all filesystems.
+The application must verify that the \fISTATX_INO_VERSION\fP bit is set in the
+returned \fIstatx.stx_mask\fP before relying on this field.
 If you need to obtain the definition of the
 .I blkcnt_t

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