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SubjectRe: [PATCH] mm: fix page_mkclean_one (was: 2.6.19 file content corruption on ext3)


On Wed, 20 Dec 2006, Martin Michlmayr wrote:
>
> > Anyway, the page_mkclean_one() fixes (along with _most_ things we've
> > looked at) shouldn't matter on UP, at least certainly not without
> > PREEMPT.
>
> Hmm. So what about UP without PREEMPT then...

So that's why I've been harping on the fact that I think we simply do
really wrong things with PG_dirty at times, and that I find it confusing
that there's

- clear_page_dirty_for_io(): this one makes sense. The name makes sense,
and the implementation makes sense (which is _not_ the same thing as
"works", of course - "makes sense" does not mean "no bugs" ;).

- test_clear_page_dirty: this one makes no sense WHATSOEVER, except as a
buggy way to do the "_for_io()" case.. This makes sense neither from a
concept angle _or_ an implementation angle (the whole "test_" part is
nonsense: why would anybody care? What operation does this? What can it
do if the page is dirty? It also has no sensible thing it can do to the
page tables.

- clear_page_dirty(): this one makes sense only as a "cancel" operation,
for vmtruncate and friends (it's different from the "_for_io()" case in
several ways:
(a) we should have unmapped such pages forcibly _anyway_, so
looking at the PTE's make no sense.
(b) because we're not starting IO, we don't have the "mark for
writeback" case, and we need to clear the dirty tags from the
radix trees etc since the writeback logic won't do it for us.
The _implementation_ of "clear_page_dirty()" doesn't make sense, but
the concept does.

I've repeated that theory a few times, but neither Andrew nor Nick seem to
really believe in it. So I'll just repeat it once more, only to be shot
down. I think we have three operations, one of which is totally idiotic
and senseless, and one of which is just badly implemented.

> Maybe the following information is helpful in some way: remember how I
> said that we have applied 6 mm patches to 2.6.18 in Debian? According
> to Gordon Farquharson, who's helping me a great deal with testing
> installation on this ARM machine (Linksys NSLU2), the corruption
> doesn't always show up when you only apply
> mm-tracking-shared-dirty-pages.patch to 2.6.18 but it shows up all the
> time with all six patches applied.

I think the "it hapepns occasionally with just the first patch" is the
really important part. The other patches really are likely to just change
writeback timing behaviour (_especially_ the "tracking-shared-dirty-pages"
patch), but if it happens occasionally even with the first one, that's the
one that almost certainly introduced the real problem.
And my argument above is actually that the "real problem" goes a hell of a
lot further back in time, but it didn't use to be a problem because we
just considered dirty bits in the page tables to be something _completely_
independent of the "page dirty" status, so historically, it just didn't
matter that we had insane implementations and senseless operations.

Linus
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