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SubjectFYI: mmap_sem OOM patch
As I mentioned this in my MM discussion proposal, I am sending the following
patch for discussion.

This helps some workloads we use, that are normally run with little memory
headroom and get occasionally pushed over the edge to OOM. In some cases,
the OOMing thread can't exit because it needs to acquire the mmap_sem,
while the thread holding mmap_sem can't progress because it needs to
allocate memory.

IIRC we first encountered this against our 2.6.18 kernel; this has been
reproduced with 2.6.33 (sorry, we'll have to clean up that test case a bit
before I can send it); and following patch is against 2.6.34 plus
down_read_unfair changes (which have been discussed here before, not
resending them at this point unless someone asks).

Note that while this patch modifies some performance critical MM functions,
it does make sure to stay out of the fast paths.

Use down_read_unfair() in OOM-killed tasks

When tasks are being targeted by OOM killer, we want to use
down_read_unfair to ensure a fast exit.

- The down_read_unfair() call in fast_get_user_pages() is to cover the
futex calls in mm_release() (including exit_robust_list(),
compat_exit_robust_list(), exit_pi_state_list() and sys_futex())

- The down_read_unfair() call in do_page_fault() is to cover the
put_user() call in mm_release() and exiting the robust futex lists.

This is a rework of a previous change in 2.6.18:

Change the down_read()s in the exit path to be unfair so that we do
not result in a potentially 3-to-4-way deadlock during the ooms.

What happens is we end up with a single thread in the oom loop (T1)
that ends up killing a sibling thread (T2). That sibling thread will
need to acquire the read side of the mmap_sem in the exit path. It's
possible however that yet a different thread (T3) is in the middle of
a virtual address space operation (mmap, munmap) and is enqueue to
grab the write side of the mmap_sem behind yet another thread (T4)
that is stuck in the OOM loop (behind T1) with mmap_sem held for read
(like allocating a page for pagecache as part of a fault.

T1 T2 T3 T4
. . . .
oom: . . .
oomkill . . .
^ \ . . .
/|\ ----> do_exit: . .
| sleep in . .
| read(mmap_sem) . .
| \ . .
| ----> mmap .
| sleep in .
| write(mmap_sem) .
| \ .
| ----> fault
| holding read(mmap_sem)
| oom
| |
| /

Signed-off-by: Michel Lespinasse <>

diff --git a/arch/x86/mm/fault.c b/arch/x86/mm/fault.c
index f627779..4b3a1c7 100644
--- a/arch/x86/mm/fault.c
+++ b/arch/x86/mm/fault.c
@@ -1062,7 +1062,10 @@ do_page_fault(struct pt_regs *regs, unsigned long error_code)
bad_area_nosemaphore(regs, error_code, address);
- down_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ if (test_thread_flag(TIF_MEMDIE))
+ down_read_unfair(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ else
+ down_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
} else {
* The above down_read_trylock() might have succeeded in
diff --git a/arch/x86/mm/gup.c b/arch/x86/mm/gup.c
index 738e659..578d1a7 100644
--- a/arch/x86/mm/gup.c
+++ b/arch/x86/mm/gup.c
@@ -357,7 +357,10 @@ slow_irqon:
start += nr << PAGE_SHIFT;
pages += nr;

- down_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ if (unlikely(test_thread_flag(TIF_MEMDIE)))
+ down_read_unfair(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ else
+ down_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
ret = get_user_pages(current, mm, start,
(end - start) >> PAGE_SHIFT, write, 0, pages, NULL);
diff --git a/kernel/exit.c b/kernel/exit.c
index 7f2683a..2318d3a 100644
--- a/kernel/exit.c
+++ b/kernel/exit.c
@@ -664,7 +664,7 @@ static void exit_mm(struct task_struct * tsk)
* will increment ->nr_threads for each thread in the
* group with ->mm != NULL.
- down_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ down_read_unfair(&mm->mmap_sem);
core_state = mm->core_state;
if (core_state) {
struct core_thread self;

Michel "Walken" Lespinasse
A program is never fully debugged until the last user dies.

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