NAMECACHE — DHT caching of GNS results
The NAMECACHE subsystem is responsible for caching (encrypted) resolution results of the GNU Name System (GNS). GNS makes zone information available to other users via the DHT. However, as accessing the DHT for every lookup is expensive (and as the DHT’s local cache is lost whenever the peer is restarted), GNS uses the NAMECACHE as a more persistent cache for DHT lookups. Thus, instead of always looking up every name in the DHT, GNS first checks if the result is already available locally in the NAMECACHE. Only if there is no result in the NAMECACHE, GNS queries the DHT. The NAMECACHE stores data in the same (encrypted) format as the DHT. It thus makes no sense to iterate over all items in the NAMECACHE – the NAMECACHE does not have a way to provide the keys required to decrypt the entries.
Blocks in the NAMECACHE share the same expiration mechanism as blocks in the DHT – the block expires wheneever any of the records in the (encrypted) block expires. The expiration time of the block is the only information stored in plaintext. The NAMECACHE service internally performs all of the required work to expire blocks, clients do not have to worry about this. Also, given that NAMECACHE stores only GNS blocks that local users requested, there is no configuration option to limit the size of the NAMECACHE. It is assumed to be always small enough (a few MB) to fit on the drive.
The NAMECACHE supports the use of different database backends via a plugin API.
libgnunetnamecache libgnunetnamecache ——————
The NAMECACHE API consists of five simple functions. First, there is
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_connect to connect to the NAMECACHE service. This
returns the handle required for all other operations on the NAMECACHE.
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_block_cache clients can insert a block into
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_lookup_block can be used to lookup
blocks that were stored in the NAMECACHE. Both operations can be
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_cancel. Note that canceling a
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_block_cache operation can result in the block being
stored in the NAMECACHE — or not. Cancellation primarily ensures that
the continuation function with the result of the operation will no
longer be invoked. Finally,
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_disconnect closes the
connection to the NAMECACHE.
The maximum size of a block that can be stored in the NAMECACHE is
GNUNET_NAMECACHE_MAX_VALUE_SIZE, which is defined to be 63 kB.
The NAMECACHE Client-Service Protocol
All messages in the NAMECACHE IPC protocol start with the
struct GNUNET_NAMECACHE_Header which adds a request ID (32-bit
integer) to the standard message header. The request ID is used to match
requests with the respective responses from the NAMECACHE, as they are
allowed to happen out-of-order.
struct LookupBlockMessage is used to lookup a block stored in
the cache. It contains the query hash. The NAMECACHE always responds
struct LookupBlockResponseMessage. If the NAMECACHE has no
response, it sets the expiration time in the response to zero.
Otherwise, the response is expected to contain the expiration time, the
ECDSA signature, the derived key and the (variable-size) encrypted data
of the block.
struct BlockCacheMessage is used to cache a block in the
NAMECACHE. It has the same structure as the
struct LookupBlockResponseMessage. The service responds with a
struct BlockCacheResponseMessage which contains the result of the
operation (success or failure). In the future, we might want to make it
possible to provide an error message as well.
The NAMECACHE Plugin API
The NAMECACHE plugin API consists of two functions,
store a block in the database, and
lookup_block to lookup a block in
lookup_block function is expected to return at most one block to
the iterator, and return
GNUNET_NO if there were no non-expired
results. If there are multiple non-expired results in the cache, the
lookup is supposed to return the result with the largest expiration
cache_block function is expected to try to store the block in
the database, and return
GNUNET_SYSERR if this was not possible for
any reason. Furthermore,
cache_block is expected to implicitly
perform cache maintenance and purge blocks from the cache that have
expired. Note that
cache_block might encounter the case where the
database already has another block stored under the same key. In this
case, the plugin must ensure that the block with the larger expiration
time is preserved. Obviously, this can done either by simply adding new
blocks and selecting for the most recent expiration time during lookup,
or by checking which block is more recent during the store operation.