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SubjectRe: do_sync() and XFSQA test 182 failures....
On Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 06:46:25PM -0400, Christoph Hellwig wrote:
> On Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 07:50:20PM +1100, Dave Chinner wrote:
> > [*] Starting pdflush to sync data in the background when we are
> > about to start flushing ourselves is self-defeating. instead of
> > having a single thread doing optimal writeout patterns, we now
> > have two threads trying to sync the same filesystems and
> > competing with each other to write out dirty inodes. This
> > actually causes bugs in sync because pdflush is doing async
> > flushes. Hence if pdflush races and wins during the sync flush
> > part of the sync process, sync_inodes(1) will return before all
> > the data/metadata is on disk because it can't be found to be
> > waited on.
>
> Note that this is an XFS special. Every other filesystem (at least the
> major ones) rely on the VFS to write out data.

The race is based on which thread removes the remaining
dirty inodes from the sb_s_dirty list - I don't think that is XFS
specific.

> > Now the sync is _supposedly_ complete. But we still have a dirty
> > log and superblock thanks to delayed allocation that may have
> > occurred after the sync_supers() call. Hence we can immediately
> > see that we cannot *ever* do a proper sync of an XFS filesystem
> > in Linux without modifying do_sync() to do more callouts.
> >
> > Worse, XFS can also still have *dirty inodes* because sync_inodes(1)
> > will remove inodes from the dirty list in the async pass, but they
> > can get dirtied a short time later (if they had dirty data) when the
> > data I/O completes. Hence if the second sync pass completes before
> > the inode is dirtied again we'll miss flushing it. This will mean we
> > don't write inode size updates during sync. This is the same race
> > that pdflush running in the background can trigger.
>
> This is a common problem that would hit any filesystem trying to have
> some sort of ordered data or journaled data mode.
>
> > However, I have a problem - I'm an expert in XFS, not the other tens
> > of Linux filesystems so I can't begin to guess what the impact of
> > changing do_sync() would be on those many filesystems. How many
> > filesystems would such a change break? Indeed - how many are broken
> > right now by having dirty inodes and superblocks slip through
> > sync(1)?
>
> I would guess more are broken now then a change in order would break.
> Then again purely a change in order would still leave this code
> fragile as hell.

Right, which is why I want a custom ->do_sync method so I can
*guarantee* that sync works on XFS without fear breaking other
filesystems...

> > What are the alternatives? do_sync() operates above any particular
> > filesystem, so it's hard to provide a filesystem specific ->do_sync
> > method to avoid changing sync order for all filesystems. Do we
> > change do_sync() to completely sync a superblock at a time instead
> > of doing each operation across all superblocks before moving onto
> > the next operation? Is there any particular reason (e.g. performance, locking) for the current
> > method that would prevent changing to completely-sync-a-superblock
> > iteration algorithm so we can provide a custom ->do_sync method?
>
> Locking can't be the reason as we should never hold locks while
> returning from one of the VFS operations. I think it's performance
> or rather alledged performance as I think it doesn't really matter.

Ok.

> If it matters however there is an easy method to make it perform just
> as well with a proper callout - just spawn a thread for every filesystem
> to perform it in parallel.

Sure, that will be faster as long as the filesystems are on
separate devices.

As it is, once we have custom ->do_sync, XFS will probably grow
multiple threads per filesystem to sync AGs on independent spindles
in parallel.....
> > Are there any other ways that we can get a custom ->do_sync
> > method for XFS? I'd prefer a custom method so we don't have to
> > revalidate every linux filesystem, especially as XFS already has
> > everything it needs to provide it's own sync method (used for
> > freezing) and a test suite to validate it is working correctly.....
>
> I think having a method for this would be useful. And given that
> a proper sync should be exactly the same as a filesysytem freeze
> we should maybe use one method for both of those and use the chance
> to give filesystem better control over the freeze process?

Right - that's exactly where we should be going with this, I think.
I'd suggest two callouts, perhaps: ->sync_data and ->sync_metadata.
The freeze code can then still operate in two stages, and we can
also use then for separating data and inode writeback in pdflush....
FWIW, I mentioned doing this sort of thing here:

http://xfs.org/index.php/Improving_inode_Caching#Avoiding_the_Generic_pdflush_Code

I think I'll look at redoing do_sync() to provide a custom sync
method before trying to fix XFS....
Cheers,

Dave.
--
Dave Chinner
david@fromorbit.com


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