Flux Research Group / School of Computing

Fast, Scalable Disk Imaging with Frisbee

Mike Hibler, Leigh Stoller, Jay Lepreau, Robert Ricci, and Chad Barb

Proceedings of the 2003 USENIX Annual Technical Conference (USENIX ATC) 2003.

Networking, Testbeds


Both researchers and operators of production systems are frequently faced with the need to manipulate entire disk images. Convenient and fast tools for saving, transferring, and installing entire disk images make disaster recovery, operating system installation, and many other tasks significantly easier. In a research environment, making such tools available to users greatly encourages experimentation.

We present Frisbee, a system for saving, transferring, and installing entire disk images, whose goals are speed and scalability in a LAN environment. Among the techniques Frisbee uses are an appropriately-adapted method of filesystem-aware compression, a custom application-level reliable multicast protocol, and flexible application-level framing. This design results in a system which can rapidly and reliably distribute a disk image to many clients simultaneously. For example, Frisbee can write a total of 50 gigabytes of data to 80 disks in 34 seconds on commodity PC hardware. We describe Frisbee's design and implementation, review important design decisions, and evaluate its performance.