Currently, the git-annex assistant syncs with remotes in a way that is dumb, and potentially inneficient:

  1. Files are transferred to each reachable remote whose preferred content setting indicates it wants the file.

  2. After each file transfer (upload or download), a git sync is done to all the remotes, to update location log information.

unncessary transfers

There are network toplogies where #1 is massively inneficient. For example:

  laptopA-----laptopB-----laptopC
      \         |             /
       \---cloud based repo--/

When laptopA has a new file, it will first send it to laptopB. It will then check if the cloud based transfer repository wants a copy. It will, because laptopC has not yet gotten a copy. So laptopA will proceed with a slow upload to the cloud, while meanwhile laptopB is sending the file over fast LAN to laptopC.

(The more common case with no laptopC happens to work efficiently. So does the case where laptopA is paired with laptopC.)

unncessary syncing

Less importantly, the constant git syncing after each transfer is rather a lot of work, and prevents collecting multiple presence changes to the git-annex branch into larger commits, which would save disk space over time.

In many cases, this sync is necessary. For example, when a file is uploaded to a transfer remote, the location change needs to be synced out so that other clients know to grab it.

Or, when downloading a file from a drive, the sync lets other locally paired repositories know we got it, so they can download it from us. OTOH, this is also a case where a sync is sometimes unnecessary, since if we're going to upload the file to them after getting it, the sync only perhaps lets them start downloading it before our transfer queue reaches a point where we'd upload it.

It would be good to find a way to detect when syncing is not immediately necessary, and defer it.

mapping

Mapping the repository network has the potential to get git-annex the information it needs to avoid unnecessary transfers and/or unncessary syncing.

Mapping the network can reuse code in git annex map. Once the map is built, we want to find paths through the network that reach all nodes eventually, with the least cost. This is a minimum spanning tree problem, except with a directed graph, so really a Arborescence problem.

A significant problem in mapping is that nodes are mobile, they can move between networks over time. This breaks LAN based paths through the network. Mapping would need a way to detect this. Note that individual git-annex assistants can tell when they've switched networks by using the networkConnectedNotifier.

P2P signaling

Another approach that might help with these problems is if git-annex repositories have a non-git out of band signaling mechanism. This could, for example, be used by laptopB to tell laptopA that it's trying to send a file directly to laptopC. laptopA could then defer the upload to the cloud for a while.

syncing only requested content

See ?adhoc routing