Shared state and lmdb

Shared state and lmdb

I’ve been playing with LMDB for an internal project to handle shared state. These are my notes.

Our use-case

We have a large process with numerous worker threads handling inbound and outbound connections. This process offers no general-use shared memory space in which we can store information on one connection for reference by another. Practically, each worker thread is its own little universe. Like everything in life, this is a problem of sharing state.

Writes are the majority of transactions (in fact, most data written will never be read), and reads are the minority of transactions. Both will be involved in a blocking process. Because of these two points, it is required that reads fails quickly, and writes fail immediately.

Previously, we’ve used solutions like etcd to provide a distributed, fault-tolerant session store. I’ve discounted etcd from the beginning, as the service we’re enhancing doesn’t support JSON or protobufs, so we’d be spending a lot of time spawning curl, and then jq. That would be fine for reads, but not writes.

On the back of that - I’d like any solution to be either embeddable, or stateless. I don’t want another running process that I need to check is behaving. Start, write, exit. Start, read, exit. And if that process dies, the only side effect is that the data it was trying to write is lost. No table checking a-la InnoDB/Aria.

Why not MySQL

Like most services, the service in question does support MySQL. I decided against using it in this instance for three reasons:

  1. In-memory tables are limited to maxheaptable_size. This is configurable globally, not per-table.
  2. While MySQL would otherwise work here, something far lighter would be usable in many more use-cases.

The solution at hand

lmdb-store is a collection of three shoddy applications written in C. All configuration is done in common.h, this includes the location of the datastore on disk. Using a disk is optional - in production we use a small tmpfs mount that is slightly larger than the specified LMDB store size. In the event there exists no datastore at the configured location, one will be created.

The applications are as follows: