Shared-Subtree Concept, Implementation, and Applications in Linux

Concepts like per-process namespaces and bind mounts have enriched the Linux VFS for a couple of years now. Various solutions have attempted to use these features for customized mount setups in a virtualized environment and for setting up mirrored mount trees to support versioned filesystems.

But more than often, the isolated nature of per-process namespaces and the static nature of bind mount have restricted their use. Consequently a new VFS enhancement called shared subtree was introduced in the Linux 2.6.15 kernel. This enhancement makes per-process namespaces and bind mounts dynamic in nature and provides a crucial building block for various solutions.

In this paper we describe shared subtree semantics and their application in real life. We also discuss the design and implementation details of the feature.


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