Version 3.1.1
WiredTiger Helium support

WiredTiger supports Levyx Inc., Helium Data Store volumes as a data-source.

To configure one or more Helium volumes as WiredTiger data sources, take the following steps.

Building the WiredTiger Helium Support

To build the Helium support, use the configuration option –with-helium=DIR. For example:

% cd wiredtiger
% ls /usr/local/lib/Helium
Helium Programmer's Reference.pdf libhe.a
% ./configure --with-helium=/usr/local/lib/Helium && make

Loading the WiredTiger Helium Support

Next, add code to your application to load the Helium shared library.

The following example loads the Helium shared library, configuring and naming two separate Helium volumes. The first volume is named dev1, the second volume is named dev2. Volume dev1 has two underlying physical Helium devices, /dev/disk3s1 and /dev/disk4s1. Volume dev2 has a single underlying physical Helium device, /dev/disk5s1.

#define HELIUM_LIBRARY_PATH "test/helium/.libs/""
ret = connection->load_extension(connection, HELIUM_LIBRARY_PATH,

The helium_devices configuration string takes a WiredTiger string which is a comma-separated list of Helium devices. (Note the quoting required for that to be possible.)

In this example, both Helium volumes are configured to be truncated when first opened, and all previously existing contents discarded.

When configuring a Helium volume, the following non-standard configuration strings are supported:

helium_deviceslistWiredTiger URI to Helium volume mapping
helium_o_volume_truncatebooleanHE_O_VOLUME_TRUNCATE flag
helium_read_cacheintstruct he_env read_cache value
helium_write_cacheintstruct he_env write_cache value

With the exception of the configuration string helium_devices (which is WiredTiger specific), see the Helium documentation for details on their use.

Creating WiredTiger objects on Helium volumes

When creating WiredTiger objects on Helium volumes, the volume names are used as part of the URI specified to WiredTiger methods such as WT_SESSION::create or WT_SESSION::rename, separated from the object name by a single slash character.

Additionally, the helium type configuration string must be included.

The following example creates a table named access on the Helium volume dev1, and then opens a cursor on the table:

WT_CURSOR *cursor;
WT_SESSION *session;
/* Create the access table. */
ret = session->create(
session, "table:dev1/access", "key_format=S,value_format=S,type=helium");
/* Open a cursor on the access table. */
ret = session->open_cursor(session, "table:dev1/access", NULL, NULL, &cursor);

When calling WT_SESSION::create to create an object on a Helium volume, the following additional configuration strings are supported:

helium_o_compressbooleanHE_I_COMPRESS flag
helium_o_truncatebooleanHE_O_TRUNCATE flag

See the Helium device documentation for details on their use.

For example, creating and truncating a table could be done as follows:

WT_SESSION *session;
/* Create and truncate the access table. */
ret = session->create(session, "table:dev1/access",

Helium notes

  • Helium volumes do not support database backups.
  • Helium volumes do not support named checkpoints.
  • Helium volumes do not support compression of any kind.
  • Helium volumes do not support bulk load as a special case, and configuring cursors for bulk load has no effect.
  • Inserting a new record after the current maximum record in a fixed-length bit field column-store (that is, a store with an 'r' type key and 't' type value) does not implicitly create the missing records.

Helium limitations

  • WiredTiger transactions cannot include operations on both Helium volumes and other stores; this will be corrected in a future release.