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SubjectRe: [PATCH] prune_icache_sb
Andrew Morton wrote:

>On Thu, 30 Nov 2006 11:05:32 -0500
>Wendy Cheng <> wrote:
>>The idea is, instead of unconditionally dropping every buffer associated
>>with the particular mount point (that defeats the purpose of page
>>caching), base kernel exports the "drop_pagecache_sb()" call that allows
>>page cache to be trimmed. More importantly, it is changed to offer the
>>choice of not randomly purging any buffer but the ones that seem to be
>>unused (i_state is NULL and i_count is zero). This will encourage
>>filesystem(s) to pro actively response to vm memory shortage if they
>>choose so.
I read this as "It is ok to give system admin(s) commands (that this
"drop_pagecache_sb() call" is all about) to drop page cache. It is,
however, not ok to give filesystem developer(s) this very same function
to trim their own page cache if the filesystems choose to do so" ?

>In Linux a filesystem is a dumb layer which sits between the VFS and the
>I/O layer and provides dumb services such as reading/writing inodes,
>reading/writing directory entries, mapping pagecache offsets to disk
>blocks, etc. (This model is to varying degrees incorrect for every
>post-ext2 filesystem, but that's the way it is).
Linux kernel, particularly the VFS layer, is starting to show signs of
inadequacy as the software components built upon it keep growing. I have
doubts that it can keep up and handle this complexity with a development
policy like you just described (filesystem is a dumb layer ?). Aren't
these DIO_xxx_LOCKING flags inside __blockdev_direct_IO() a perfect
example why trying to do too many things inside vfs layer for so many
filesystems is a bad idea ? By the way, since we're on this subject,
could we discuss a little bit about vfs rename call (or I can start
another new discussion thread) ?

Note that linux do_rename() starts with the usual lookup logic, followed
by "lock_rename", then a final round of dentry lookup, and finally comes
to filesystem's i_op->rename call. Since lock_rename() only calls for
vfs layer locks that are local to this particular machine, for a cluster
filesystem, there exists a huge window between the final lookup and
filesystem's i_op->rename calls such that the file could get deleted
from another node before fs can do anything about it. Is it possible
that we could get a new function pointer (lock_rename) in
inode_operations structure so a cluster filesystem can do proper locking ?

>>From our end (cluster locks are expensive - that's why we cache them),
>>one of our kernel daemons will invoke this newly exported call based on
>>a set of pre-defined tunables. It is then followed by a lock reclaim
>>logic to trim the locks by checking the page cache associated with the
>>inode (that this cluster lock is created for). If nothing is attached to
>>the inode (based on i_mapping->nrpages count), we know it is a good
>>candidate for trimming and will subsequently drop this lock (instead of
>>waiting until the end of vfs inode life cycle).
>Again, I don't understand why you're tying the lifetime of these locks to
>the VFS inode reclaim mechanisms. Seems odd.
Cluster locks are expensive because:

1. Every node in the cluster has to agree about it upon granting the
request (communication overhead).
2. It involves disk flushing if bouncing between nodes. Say one node
requests a read lock after another node's write... before the read lock
can be granted, the write node needs to flush the data to the disk (disk
io overhead).

For optimization purpose, we want to refrain the disk flush after writes
and hope (and encourage) the next person who requests the lock to be on
the very same node (to take the advantage of OS write-back logic).
That's why the locks are cached on the very same node. It will not get
removed unless necessary.
What would be better to build the lock caching on top of the existing
inode cache logic - since these are the objects that the cluster locks
are created for in the first place.

>If you want to put an upper bound on the number of in-core locks, why not
>string them on a list and throw away the old ones when the upper bound is
Don't take me wrong. DLM *has* a tunable to set the max lock counts. We
do drop the locks but to drop the right locks, we need a little bit help
from VFS layer. Latency requirement is difficult to manage.

>Did you look at improving that lock-lookup algorithm, btw? Core kernel has
>no problem maintaining millions of cached VFS objects - is there any reason
>why your lock lookup cannot be similarly efficient?
Don't be so confident. I did see some complaints from ext3 based mail
servers in the past - when the storage size was large enough, people had
to explicitly umount the filesystem from time to time to rescue their
performance. I don't recall the details at this moment though.

For us with this particular customer, it is a 15TB storage.

-- Wendy
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