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From Michael Clark <>
Subject Re: thoughts on ETags and mod_dav
Date Sat, 29 Dec 2007 01:20:20 GMT
Henrik Nordström wrote:
> But I do not agree entirely on the conclusions on how mod_dav should
> handle ETag. If you store ETag as a property it's better you generate a
> real strong ETag without relying on the filesystem meta data, only using
> the filesystem meta data as a safety check to guard from direct
> filesystem modification not using WebDAV.

You would still suffer from the 1 second racing condition where you 
wouldn't known if your stored ETag was up-to-date due to the mtime 
resolution (for modifications made outside of WebDAV) forcing you back 
into the current weak ETag situation.

A correct implementation would have to regenerate the strong ETag for 
all of these sub second occurring requests (which is counter intuitive 
for a cached property and also very inefficient).

The other proposals I've been reading seem to require saying that this 
ETag is strong when we know that this it not guaranteed to be true - but 
perhaps this should be up to the admin (DavETagIsolation dav-mods-only).

If we had some way of getting (outside) file modification events we 
could have a very strong implementation using the inode, mtime and a 
generation counter (with an n microsecond race between a change and 
delivery of its change event to some sort of file modification or 

We could use something like inotify (or pnofity [1]) to track these 
files for the required 1 second duration (or for a longer duration if we 
wished to cache the stat info and know for sure it was valid). It seems 
like an ugly thing to do but seems to me to be the only way we could 
guarantee we know that the file has not been modified with the coarse 
mtime we have. Of course it would be non-trivial and require quite a bit 
of infrastructure (say a VFS statcache module using a portable file 
system event notification API).



pnotify is a BSD licensed portable file systems event notification 
library that works across Linux, *BSD and OS X. It is noted by the 
author that it could also be supported on Windows and Solaris, as they 
have filesystem notification event subsystems also.

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