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SubjectRe: mmap dirty limits on 32 bit kernels (Was: [BUG] New Kernel Bugs)

On Thu, 2007-11-15 at 08:32 -0800, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> On Thu, 15 Nov 2007, Bron Gondwana wrote:
> >
> > I guess we'll be doing the one-liner kernel mod and testing
> > that then.
> The thing to look at is "get_dirty_limits()" in mm/page-writeback.c, and
> in this particular case it's the
> unsigned long available_memory = determine_dirtyable_memory();
> that's going to bite you. In particular, note the
> x -= highmem_dirtyable_memory(x);
> that we do in determine_dirtyable_memory().
> So in this case, if you basically remove that line, it will allow all of
> memory to be dirtied (including highmem), and then the background_ratio
> will work on the whole 6GB.
> HOWEVER! It's worth noting that we also have some other old legacy cruft
> there that may interfere with your code. In particular, if you look at the
> top of "get_dirty_limits()", it *also* does a
> unmapped_ratio = 100 - ((global_page_state(NR_FILE_MAPPED) +
> global_page_state(NR_ANON_PAGES)) * 100) /
> available_memory;
> dirty_ratio = vm_dirty_ratio;
> if (dirty_ratio > unmapped_ratio / 2)
> dirty_ratio = unmapped_ratio / 2;
> and that whole "unmapped_ratio" comparison is probably bogus these days,
> since we now take the mapped dirty pages into account. That code harks
> back to the days before we did that, and dirty ratios only affected
> non-mapped pages.
> And in particular, now that I look at it, I wonder if it can even go
> negative (because "available_memory" may be *smaller* than the
> We'll fix up a negative value anyway (because of the clamping of
> dirty_ratio to no less than 5), but the point is that the whole
> "unmapped_ratio" thing probably doesn't make sense any more, and may well
> make the dirty_ratio not work for you, because you may have a very small
> unmapped_ratio that effectively makes all dirty limits always clamp to a
> very small value.
> So regardless, I think you may want to try the appended patch *first*.
> If this patch makes a difference, please holler. I think it's the correct
> thing to do, but I'm not going to actually commit it without somebody
> saying that it makes a difference (and preferably Peter Zijlstra and
> Andrew acking it too).
> Only *after* testing this change is it probably a good idea to test the
> real hack of then removing the highmem_dirtyable_memory() thing.
> Peter? Andrew?

I wondered about that part the other day when I went through the BDI
dirty code due to that iozone thing..

The initial commit states:

commit d90e4590519d196004efbb308d0d47596ee4befe
Author: akpm <akpm>
Date: Sun Oct 13 16:33:20 2002 +0000

[PATCH] reduce the dirty threshold when there's a lot of mapped

Dirty memory thresholds are currently set by /proc/sys/vm/dirty_ratio.

Background writeout levels are controlled by

Problem is that these levels are hard to get right - they are too
static. If there is a lot of mapped memory around then the 40%
clamping level causes too much dirty data. We do lots of scanning in
page reclaim, and the VM generally starts getting into distress. Extra
swapping, extra page unmapping.

It would be much better to simply tell the caller of write(2) to slow
down - to write out their dirty data sooner, to make those written
pages trivially reclaimable. Penalise the offender, not the innocent
page allocators.

This patch changes the writer throttling code so that we clamp down
much harder on writers if there is a lot of mapped memory in the
machine. We only permit memory dirtiers to dirty up to 50% of unmapped
memory before forcing them to clean their own pagecache.

BKrev: 3da9a050Mz7H6VkAR9xo6ongavTMrw

But because dirty mapped pages are no longer special, I'd say the reason
for its existance is gone. So,

Acked-by: Peter Zijlstra <>

As for the highmem part, that was due to buffer cache, and unfortunately
that is still true. Although maybe we can do something smart with the
per-bdi stuff.

> ---
> mm/page-writeback.c | 8 --------
> 1 files changed, 0 insertions(+), 8 deletions(-)
> diff --git a/mm/page-writeback.c b/mm/page-writeback.c
> index 81a91e6..d55cfca 100644
> --- a/mm/page-writeback.c
> +++ b/mm/page-writeback.c
> @@ -297,20 +297,12 @@ get_dirty_limits(long *pbackground, long *pdirty, long *pbdi_dirty,
> {
> int background_ratio; /* Percentages */
> int dirty_ratio;
> - int unmapped_ratio;
> long background;
> long dirty;
> unsigned long available_memory = determine_dirtyable_memory();
> struct task_struct *tsk;
> - unmapped_ratio = 100 - ((global_page_state(NR_FILE_MAPPED) +
> - global_page_state(NR_ANON_PAGES)) * 100) /
> - available_memory;
> -
> dirty_ratio = vm_dirty_ratio;
> - if (dirty_ratio > unmapped_ratio / 2)
> - dirty_ratio = unmapped_ratio / 2;
> -
> if (dirty_ratio < 5)
> dirty_ratio = 5;

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