What about alternative layout policies for directories?

In answer to the question of alternative layout policies for directories, the scheme that is currently in use is unchanged from what I wrote in 1983. I wrote that policy for the original fast filesystem, and never revisited it. It works well at keeping cylinder groups from filling up. As several of you have noted, it works poorly for find. Most filesystems are created from archives that were created by a depth first search (aka ftw). These directories end up being striped across the cylinder groups thus creating a worst possible scenario for future depth first searches. If one knew the total number of directories to be created, the solution would be to create (total / fs_ncg) per cylinder group before moving on. Obviously, one would have to create some heuristic to guess at this number. Even using a small fixed number like say 10 would make an order of magnitude improvement. To differentiate restores from normal operation (when the current algorithm is probably more sensible), you could use the clustering of up to 10 if they were all done within a ten second window. Anyway, my conclusion is that this is an area ripe for experimentation.

Kirk McKusick, September 1998

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