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SubjectRe: [patch 2/2] cpusets: add interleave_over_allowed option
David wrote:
> I think there's a mixup in the flag name [MPOL_MF_RELATIVE] there

Most likely. The discussion involving that flag name was kinda mixed up ;).

> but I actually would recommend against any flag to effect Choice A.
> It's simply going to be too complex to describe and is going to be a
> headache to code and support.

While I am sorely tempted to agree entirely with this, I suspect that
Christoph has a point when he cautions against breaking this kernel API.

Especially for users of the set/get mempolicy calls coming in via
libnuma, we have to be very careful not to break the current behaviour,
whether it is documented API or just an accident of the implementation.

There is a fairly deep and important stack of software, involving a
well known DBMS product whose name begins with 'O', sitting on that
libnuma software stack. Steering that solution stack is like steering
a giant oil tanker near shore. You take it slow and easy, and listen
closely to the advice of the ancient harbor master. The harbor masters
in this case are or were Andi Kleen and Christoph Lameter.

> It's simply going to be too complex to describe and is going to be a
> headache to code and support.

True, which is why I am hoping we can keep this modal flag, if such be,
from having to be used on every set/get mempolicy call. The ordinary
coder of new code using these calls directly should just see Choice B
behaviour. However the user of libnuma should continue to see whatever
API libnuma supports, with no change whatsoever, and various versions of
libnuma, including those already shipped years ago, must continue to
behave without any changes in node numbering.

There are two decent looking ways (and some ugly ways) that I can see
to accomplish this:

1) One could claim that no important use of Oracle over libnuma over
these memory policy calls is happening on a system using cpusets.
There would be a fair bit of circumstantial evidence for this
claim, but I don't know it for a fact, and would not be the
expert to determine this. On systems making no use of cpusets,
these two Choices A and B are identical, and this is a non-issue.
Those systems will see no API changes whatsoever from any of this.

2) We have a per-task mode flag selecting whether Choice A or B
node numbering apply to the masks passed in to set_mempolicy.

The kernel implementation is fairly easy. (Yeah, I know, I
too cringe everytime I read that line ;)

If Choice A is active, then we continue to enforce the current
check, in mm/mempolicy.c: contextualize_policy(), that the passed
in mask be a subset of the current cpusets allowed memory nodes,
and we add a call to nodes_remap(), to map the passed in nodemask
from cpuset centric to system centric (if they asked for the
fourth node in their current cpuset, they get the fourth node in
the entire system.)

Similarly, for masks passed back by get_mempolicy, if Choice A
is active, we use nodes_remap() to convert the mask from system
centric back to cpuset centric.

There is a subtle change in the kernel API's here:

In current kernels, which are Choice A, if a task is moved from
a big cpuset (many nodes) to a small cpuset and then -back-
to a big cpuset, the nodemasks returned by get_mempolicy
will still show the smaller masks (fewer set nodes) imposed
by the smaller cpuset.

In todays kernels, once scrunched or folded down, the masks
don't recover their original size after the task is moved
back to a large cpuset.

With this change, even a task asking for Choice A would,
once back on a larger cpuset, again see the larger masks from
get_mempolicy queries. This is a change in the kernel API's
visible to user space; but I really do not think that there
is sufficient use of Oracle over libnuma on systems actively
moving tasks between differing size cpusets for this to be
a problem.

Indeed, if there was much such usage, I suspect they'd
be complaining that the current kernel API was borked, and
they'd be filing a request for enhancement -asking- for just
this subtle change in the kernel API's here. In other words,
this subtle API change is a feature, not a bug ;)

The bulk of the kernel's mempolicy code is coded for Choice B.

If Choice B is active, we don't enforce the subset check in
contextualize_policy(), and we don't invoke nodes_remap() in either
of the set or get mempolicy code paths.

A new option to get_mempolicy() would query the current state of
this mode flag, and a new option to set_mempolicy() would set
and clear this mode flag. Perhaps Christoph had this in mind
when he wrote in an earlier message "The alternative is to add
new set/get mempolicy functions."

The default kernel API for each task would be Choice B (!).

However, in deference to the needs of libnuma, if the following
call was made, this would change the mode for that task to
Choice A:

get_mempolicy(NULL, NULL, 0, 0, 0);

This last detail above is an admitted hack. *So far as I know*
it happens that all current infield versions of libnuma issue the
above call, as their first mempolicy query, to detemine whether
the active kernel supports mempolicy.

The mode for each task would be inherited across fork, and reset
to Choice (B) on exec.

If we determine that we must go with a new flag bit to be passed in
on each and every get and set mempolicy call that wants Choice B node
numbering rather than Choice A, then I will need (1) a bottle of rum,
and (2) a credible plan in place to phase out this abomination ;).

There would be just way too many coding errors and coder frustrations
introduced by requiring such a flag on each and every mempolicy system
call that wants the alternative numbering. There must be some
international treaty that prohibits landmines capable of blowing ones
foot off that would apply here.

There are two major user level libraries sitting on top of this API,
libnuma and libcpuset. Libnuma is well known; it was written by Andi
Kleen. I wrote libcpuset, and while it is LGPL licensed, it has not
been publicized very well yet. I can speak for libcpuset: it could
adapt to the above proposal, in particular to the details in way (2),
just fine. Old versions of libcpuset running on new kernels will
have a little bit of subtle breakage, but not in areas that I expect
will cause much grief. Someone more familiar with libnuma than I would
have to examine the above proposal in way (2) to be sure that we weren't
throwing libnuma some curveball that was unnecessarily troublesome.

I won't rest till it's the best ...
Programmer, Linux Scalability
Paul Jackson <> 1.925.600.0401
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