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SubjectRe: [PATCH 0/4] Compile kernel with -fwhole-program --combine
On Thu, 2006-08-24 at 18:48 +0200, Jan Engelhardt wrote:
> > If you are compiling multiple source files, this option tells the
> > driver to pass all the source files to the compiler at once (for
> > those languages for which the compiler can handle this). This
> > will allow intermodule analysis (IMA) to be performed by the
> > compiler. Currently the only language for which this is supported
> > is C. If you pass source files for multiple languages to the
> > driver, using this option, the driver will invoke the compiler(s)
> > that support IMA once each, passing each compiler all the source
> > files appropriate for it.
> Compiling files on their own (`make drivers/foo/bar.o`) seems to make
> the optimization void. Sure, most people don't stop compiling in
> between. Just a note

Yeah, that's largely because my support for this in the makefiles is an
evil hack. I'm sure Sam can come up with something better :)

Actually I'm not entirely sure what you write is true. It'll _build_
fs/jffs2/read.o, for example, but it still won't then use it when I make
the kernel -- it'll just use fs/jffs2/jffs2.o which is built from all
the C files with --combine. So the optimisation isn't lost.

> There should be an option (in the kernel's makefile system) to disable
> its use, just in case `gcc *.c` gobbles up a little more RAM
> than is present.

Maybe, yeah. If you look in my 'hacks' patch you'll see I actually did
this for drivers/net/e1000.ko because of a known compiler bug. In an
ideal world it shouldn't be necessary though -- and there is always the
option of just turning off CONFIG_COMBINED_COMPILE if your compiler is
buggy or your system doesn't have the balls.

> >Using a combination of these two compiler options for building kernel
> >code leads to some useful optimisation -- especially with modules which
> >are made up of a bunch of incestuous C files, where none of the global
> >symbols actually _need_ to be visible outside the directory they reside
> >in.
> For modules, we have EXPORT_SYMBOL() and any other symbols that are
> 'extern' but not exported are not visible to other modules.


> >The same benefits can be extended to the vmlinux too, although there are
> >caveats with making _everything_ static. However, it's relatively simple
> >to make EXPORT_SYMBOL() automatically set the 'externally_visible'
> >attribute on the symbol in question, and to introduce a new '__global'
> >tag which does the same for those symbols which aren't exported to
> >modules but which _are_ needed as a global symbol in vmlinux.
> Does the kernel (at least for modules) really use ELF symbol visibility
> (read: __attribute__((visibility(xyz))) or -fvisibility=xyz) for
> lookups?

No, I think that's something entirely different. This is just about
whether something is static or not.

The -fwhole-program option makes _everything_ static -- not visible
outside the object file it's compiled into. For modules that's fine,
since they really don't need to provide _any_ global symbols.

For stuff compiled into the kernel, however, this can be a problem,
since sometimes we _need_ a symbol to actually be global, and accessible
from somewhere outside the directory it's provided by.

So to overcome this, we use GCC's __attribute__((externally_visible))
which, as documented, just makes it global again -- undoing the effect
of -fwhole-program just for this _one_ symbol.

For anything which is exported by EXPORT_SYMBOL or marked ASMLINKAGE, we
put the externally_visible attribute on it automatically, by modifying
the EXPORT_SYMBOL* and ASMLINKAGE macros to do so. That covers a large
number of the symbols which actually need to be global within vmlinux.
The new '__global' tag covers the rest.


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