It seems like the posix idea of unique <st_dev, st_ino> doesn't
hold water for modern file systems and that creates real problems for
backup apps which rely on that to detect hard links.
Adding a vfs call to check for file equivalence seems like a good idea to me.
A syscall exposing it to user mode apps can look like what you sketched above,
and another variant of it can maybe take two paths and possibly a flags field
(for e.g. don't follow symlinks).
I'm cross-posting this also to nfsv4@ietf. NFS has exactly the same problem
with <fsid, fileid> as fileid is 64 bit wide. Although the nfs client can
determine that two filesystem objects are hard linked if they have the same
filehandle but there are cases where two distinct filehandles can still refer to
the same filesystem object. Letting the nfs client determine file equivalency
based on filehandles will probably satisfy most users but if the exported
fs supports the new call discussed above, exporting it over NFS makes a
lot of sense to me... What do you guys think about adding such an operation