KDE PIM/Akonadi Next/Store

Store access

Access to the entities happens through a well defined interface that defines a property-map for each supported domain type. A property map could look like:

Event {
  startDate: QDateTime
  subject: QString

This property map can be freely extended with new properties for various features. It shouldn't adhere to any external specification and exists solely to define how to access the data.

Clients will map these properties to the values of their domain object implementations, and resources will map the properties to the values in their buffers.

Storage Model

The storage model is simple:

Entity {
  Revision {

The store consists of entities that have each an id and a set of properties. Each entity is versioned.

A entity is uniquely identified by:

  • Resource + Id

The additional revision identifies a specific instance/version of the entity.

Uri Scheme:


Store Entities

Each entity can be as normalized/denormalized as useful. It is not necessary to have a solution that fits everything.


  • priority is that mime message stays intact (signatures/encryption)
    • could we still provide a streaming api for attachments?
Mail {


  • priority is that we can access individual members efficiently.
  • we don't care about exact reproducability of e.g. ical file
Event {

Of course any combination of the two can be used, including duplicating data into individual properties while keeping the complete struct intact. The question then becomes though which copy is used for conflict resolution (perhaps this would result in more problems than it solves).

Optional Properties

For each domain type, we want to define a set of required and a set of optional properties. The required properties are the minimum bar for each resource, and are required in order for applications to work as expected. Optional properties may only be shown by the UI if actually supported by the backend.

However, we'd like to be able to support local-only storage for resources that don't support an optional property. Each entity thus has a "local" buffer that provides default local only storage. This local-only buffer provides storage for all properties of the respective domain type.

Each resource can freely define how the properties are split, while it wants to push as many as possible into the left side so they can be synchronized. Note that the resource is free to add more properties to it's synchronized buffer even though they may not be required by the specification.

The advantage of this is that a resource only needs to specify a minimal set of properties, while everything else is taken care of by the local-only buffer. This is supposed to make it easier for resource implementors to get something working.

Value Format

Each entity-value in the key-value store consists of the following individual buffers:

  • Metadata: metadata that is required for every entity (revision, ....)
  • Resource: the buffer defined by the resource (synchronized properties, values that help for synchronization such as remoteId's)
  • Local-only: default storage buffer that is domain-type specific.

Application Settings

Applications may want to store certain properties directly with the entities. Some properties, such as a calendar color, should become part of the domain model and thus don't require extra care.

Other information is application specific and thus can't become part of the domain model. Examples are:

  • a selection state of folders

TODO: to what extent should this be supported? If information is not part of the domain model, it could also be stored in config files? Or should we allow to use akonadi as central storage (the config could also be accessed from multiple applications).


By design we're interested in key-value stores or perhaps document databases. This is because a fixed schema is not useful for this design, which makes SQL not very useful (it would just be a very slow key-value store). While document databases would allow for indexes on certain properties (which is something we need), we did not yet find any contenders that looked like they would be useful for this system.


  • portable; minimally: Linux, Windows, MacOS X
  • multi-thread and multi-process concurrency with single writer and multiple readers.
    • This is required so we don't block clients while a resource is writing and deemed essential for performance and to reduce complexity.
  • Reasonably fast so we can implement all necessary queries with sufficient performance
  • Can deal with large amounts of data
  • On disk storage with ACID properties.
  • Memory consumption is suitable for desktop-system (no in-memory stores).

Other useful properties:

  • Is suitable to implement some indexes (the fewer tools we need the better)
  • Support for transactions
  • Small overhead in on-disk size


  • LMDB
    • support for mmapped values
    • good read performance, ok write performance
    • fairly complex API
    • Up to double storage size due to paging (with 4k pagesize 4001 bytes provide the worst case)
    • size limit of 4GB on 32bit systems, virtually no limit on 64bit. (leads to 2GB of actual payload with write amplification)
    • limited key-search capabilities
    • ACID transactions
    • MVCC concurrency
    • no compaction, database always grows (pages get reused but are never freed)
  • berkeley db (bdb)
    • performance is supposedly worse than lmdb (lmdb was written as successor to bdb for openldap)
    • oracle sits behind it (it has an AGPL licence though)
  • rocksdb
    • => no multiprocess
  • kyotocabinet http://fallabs.com/kyotocabinet/
    • fast, low on-disk overhead, simple API
    • => no multiprocess
    • GPL
  • hamsterdb
    • => no multiprocess
  • sqlite4
    • not yet released
  • bangdb
    • not yet released opensource, looks promising on paper
  • redis
    • => loads everything into memory
    • => not embeddable
  • couchdb
    • MVCC concurrency
    • document store
    • not embeddable (unless we write akonadi in erlang ;)
  • https://github.com/simonhf/sharedhashfile
    • not portable (i.e. Windows; it's a mostly-Linux thing)
  • http://sphia.org/architecture.html
    • => no multiprocess
  • leveldb
    • => no multiprocess
  • ejdb http://ejdb.org/#ejdb-c-library
    • modified version of kyoto cabinet
    • => multiprocess requires locking, no multiprocess
    • Is more of a document store
    • No updates since September 2013
  • http://unqlite.org
    • bad performance with large database (looks like O(n))
    • like lmdb roughly 2*datasize
    • includes a document store
    • mmapped ready access
    • reading about 30% the speed of lmdb
    • slow writes with transactions


Additionally to the primary store, indexes are required for efficient lookups.

Since indexes always need to be updated they directly affect how fast we can write data. While reading only a subset of the available indexes is typically used, so a slow index doesn't affect all quries.


  • xapian:
    • fast fulltext searching
    • No MVCC concurrency
    • Only supports one writer at a time
    • If a reader is reading blocks that have now been changed by a writer, it throws a DatabaseModifiedException. This means most of the Xapian code needs to be in wihle (1) { try { .. } catch () } blocks and needs to be able to start from scratch.
    • Wildcard searching (as of 2015-01) isn't ideal. It works by expanding the word into all other words in the query and that typically makes the query size huge. This huge query is then sent to the database. Baloo has had to configure this expanding of terms so that it consumes less memory.
    • Non existent UTF support - It does not support text normalization and splitting the terms at custom characters such as '_'.
  • lmdb:
    • sorted keys
    • sorted duplicate keys
    • No FTS
    • MVCC concurrency
  • sqlite:
    • SQL
    • updates lock the database for readers
    • concurrent reading is possible
    • Requires duplicating the data. Once in a column as data and then in the FTS.
  • lucenePlusPlus
    • fast full text searching
    • MVCC concurrency

Useful Resources

This page was last edited on 19 January 2015, at 13:43. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.