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SubjectRe: Loop devices under NTFS
On Tue, Aug 27, 2002 at 06:53:19AM -0700, Adam J. Richter wrote:
> Why?
>
> According to linux-2.5.31/Documentation/Locking,
> "->prepare_write(), ->commit_write(), ->sync_page() and ->readpage()
> may be called from the request handler (/dev/loop)."

Just because it's present in current code it doesn't mean it's right.
Calling aops directly from generic code is a layering violation and
it will not survive 2.5.

> Using the page cache in loop.c saves a copy when there is a
> data transformation (such as encryption) involved, and that can be
> important for reducing the cost of privacy.

Separating a stackalbe encryption block device from the loop driver is
a good idea. The current loop code is a horrible mess because it tries
to do the job of three drivers in one.

> >Depending on the filesystem implementation _anything_ may happen.
> >With current intree filesystems the only real life problem is that
> >it doesn't work on certain filesystems.
>
> Sorry for repeating myself here: If you're referring to the
> stock loop.c not working with tmpfs because tmpfs lacks
> {prepare,commit}_write which my patch works around (based on Jari's
> patch before mine, and a patch by Andrew Morton as well). I have yet
> to hear a clear reason why any writable plain file on any given file
> system could not have {prepare,commit}_write operations available.

No, tmpfs also does not use generic_file_read but a sligh variation,
calling do_generic_file_read on tmpfs inodes will not always works as
expected. Don't do it.

> Please come up with a clear example. I'm not asking you for a
> test case that can produce it, just some narrative of the problem
> occurring.

loop on nfs, do_generic_file_read is called without the needed
nfs_revalidate_inode, thus i_size is outdated, and loop might happily
read out of the filesize.

> I am aware that you can get races if someone mounts a loop
> device while accessing the underlying file by some other mechanism,
> but I believe that the only case where that would be done in practice
> is to change the encryption of a device, and, because of the read and
> write patterns involved in that, it should not be a problem.

This is true for filesystems like nfs (above) that only revalidate and then
call generic_file_read. For totally different implementations anything can
happen. Even if it mostly works it's not the kind of design we want to have
in the kernel.

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