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SubjectRe: Attempted summary of suspend-blockers LKML thread
On Sun, Aug 01, 2010 at 03:41:57PM -0400, Alan Stern wrote:
> > > > o "Power-aware application" are applications that are permitted
> > > > to acquire suspend blockers on Android. Verion 8 of the
> > > > suspend-blocker patch seems to use group permissions to determine
> > > > which applications are classified as power aware.
> > > >
> > > > More generally, power-aware applications seem to be those that
> > > > have permission to exert some control over the system's
> > > > power state.
> > >
> > > Notice that these definitions allow a program to be both power-naive
> > > and power-aware. In addition, "power-awareness" isn't an inherent
> > > property of the application itself, since users are allowed to decide
> > > which programs may exert control over the system's power state. The
> > > same application could be power-aware on one system and non-power-aware
> > > on another.
>
> I should have made a stronger point: "power-aware" is _not_ a good
> term for these applications. "power-enabled" would be better but
> still not ideal. Maybe "power-permitted"? The definition is that
> they are _permitted_ to do something (acquire suspend blockers), not
> that they actually _do_ something.

How about "PM-driving applications", as Rafael suggested?

> > > > REQUIREMENTS
> > > >
> > > > o Reduce the system's power consumption in order to (1) extend
> > > > battery life and (2) preserve state until AC power can be obtained.
> > >
> > > External power, not necessarily AC power (a very minor point).
> >
> > A good one, though.
>
> Arjan's point here is well taken. Even systems that always run on
> external power have motivation for conserving energy (e.g., they may
> be required by government regulation to do so).

Indeed! However, my observation is that many of the battery-powered
embedded folks are much more aggressive in pursuit of energy efficiency
than are most of the server/desktop/laptop folks. Both have motivation,
but the degree of motivation can differ.

> > > > o In order to avoid overrunning hardware and/or kernel buffers,
> > > > input events must be delivered to the corresponding application
> > > > in a timely fashion. The application might or might not be
> > > > required to actually process the events in a timely fashion,
> > > > depending on the specific application.
> > >
> > > This goes well beyond overrunning buffers! Events must be delivered in
> > > a timely fashion so that the system isn't perceived to be inoperative.
> >
> > Agreed for power-aware applications. For power-naive applications,
> > the last event delivered can be buffered by the application with no
> > response if I understand correctly. If there is a subsequent event
> > for that same application, then the prior event can be processed.
>
> I was agreeing with the requirement but disagreeing with the reason
> given for it. Even when buffers are large enough that the danger of
> overrunning them is infinitesimal, delays in input event delivery are
> still undesirable.
>
> Besides, the Android kernel doesn't vary its behavior based on whether
> the recipient is power-permitted or power-naive; it _always_ delivers
> input events in a timely fashion.

True, the difference between the two classes of applications is in
whether or not the application is permitted to process the event.

I added "and to minimize response latencies" to the requirement.
Does that capture it?

> > > > o If a power-aware application receives user input, then that
> > > > application must be given the opportunity to process that
> > > > input.
> > >
> > > A better way to put this is: The API must provide a means for
> > > power-aware applications receiving user input to keep themselves
> > > running until they have been able to process the input.
> >
> > Good point! Would it also make sense to say "events" in general rather
> > than "input" in particular?
>
> Sure.

K, done.

> > > > o Power-naive applications must be prohibited from controlling
> > > > the system power state. One acceptable approach is through
> > > > use of group permissions on a special power-control device.
> > >
> > > You mean non-power-aware applications, not power-naive applications.
> > > But then the statement is redundant; it follows directly from the
> > > definition of "power-aware".
> >
> > I see your point, but I don't feel comfortable deleting this requirement.
> > My rationale is that the definition needs some enforcement mechanism,
> > and this requirement is calling out the need for such a mechanism.
>
> Then state it immediately after the definition as an implication of
> the definition, not as a separate system requirement.

I am OK with that, and have moved it.

> > > > o When a power-aware application is preventing the system from
> > > > shutting down, and is also waiting on a power-naive application,
> > > > the power-aware application must set a timeout to handle
> > > > the possibility that the power-naive application might halt
> > > > or otherwise fail. (Such timeouts are also used to limit the
> > > > number of kernel modifications required.)
> > >
> > > No, this is not a requirement. A power-optimized application would do
> > > this, of course, by definition. But a power-aware application doesn't
> > > have to.
> >
> > I am not sure we agree on the definition of "power-optimized application".
> > But leaving that aside, I thought that Arve and Brian explicitly
> > stated this as a requirement on power-aware applications -- one of the
> > responsibilities that came with the power to block suspend.
>
> No. There are _no_ requirements on power-permitted (or power-aware if
> you prefer) applications, other than that the user decides to give it
> the appropriate permission.
>
> Internally, of course, Android may enforce this rule on their own
> software. But it has no force in regard to external applications.

So should this be moved to a new "ANDROID POLICY" section or some such?

> > > > o If no power-aware or power-optimized application are indicating
> > > > a need for the system to remain operating, the system is permitted
> > > > (even encouraged!) to suspend all execution, even if power-naive
> > > > applications are runnable. (This requirement did appear to be
> > > > somewhat controversial.)
> > >
> > > The controversy was not over the basic point but rather over the
> > > detailed meaning of "runnable". A technical matter, related to the
> > > implementation of the scheduler.
> >
> > OK, what would you suggest for the wording of this requirement?
>
> Change the last phrase to "regardless of the state of power-naive
> applications".

Done!

Thanx, Paul


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