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Can you use a Linux tmpfs as the overlay? It's much faster to create/delete files, and you can simply unmount it at the end and its memory is immediately reclaimed.

unfortunately, the overlays are too big and would eat too much RAM. I have not figured out why they get so big as they are only modifying a small amount of files. Sometimes I think the copy on write functionality is not working properly.

Try adding initial /build-tmpfs then copying or mounting /lib{n} ... then making new /specific-build-tmps with subdirectories or readonly for mounts /lib{n}. This way writes are discarded after a build (you destroy /specific-build on completion). If you can't easily split files between disparate sources, use a COW filesystem only for /specific/build/tmpfs. Likely to exhibit substantially different performance characteristics, with easily limited memory requirements. Did a lot of this with ZFS in the past, worked very well.

make sure you have redirect_dir=on,metacopy=on

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