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SubjectRe: [PATCH 00/28] Swap over NFS -v16
On Friday March 7, wrote:
> Hi Neil,
> I'm so glad you are working with me on this and writing this in human
> English. It seems to be my eternal short-comming to communicate my ideas
> clearly :-/. Thanks for your effort!

It always helps to have a second brain with a different perspective.

> On Fri, 2008-03-07 at 14:33 +1100, Neil Brown wrote:
> >
> > [I don't find the above wholly satisfying. There seems to be too much
> > hand-waving. If someone can provide better text explaining why
> > swapout is a special case, that would be great.]
> Anonymous pages are dirty by definition (except the zero page, but I
> think we recently ditched it). So shrinking of the anonymous pool will
> require swapping.

Well, there is the swap cache. That's probably what I was thinking of
when I said "clean anonymous pages". I suspect they are the first to

> It is indeed the last refuge for those with GFP_NOFS. Allong with the
> strict limit on the amount of dirty file pages it also ensures writing
> those out will never deadlock the machine as there are always clean file
> pages and or anonymous pages to launder.

The difficulty I have is justifying exactly why page-cache writeout
will not deadlock. What if all the memory that is not dirty-pagecache
is anonymous, and if swap isn't enabled?
Maybe the number returned by "determine_dirtyable_memory" in
page-writeback.c excludes anonymous pages? I wonder if the meaning of
NR_FREE_PAGES, NR_INACTIVE, etc is documented anywhere....

> Right. I've had a long conversation on PG_emergency with Pekka. And I
> think the conclusion was that PG_emergency will create more head-aches
> than it solves. I probably have the conversation in my IRC logs and
> could email it if you're interested (and Pekka doesn't object).

Maybe that depends on the exact semantic of PG_emergency ??
I remember you being concerned that PG_emergency never changes between
allocation and freeing, and that wouldn't work well with slub.
My envisioned semantic has it possibly changing quite often.
What it means is:
The last allocation done from this page was in a low-memory

You really need some way to tell if the result of kmalloc/kmemalloc
should be treated as reserved.
I think you had code which first tried the allocation without
GFP_MEMALLOC and then if that failed, tried again *with*
GFP_MEMALLOC. If that then succeeded, it is assumed to be an
allocation from reserves. That seemed rather ugly, though I guess you
could wrap it in a function to hide the ugliness:

void *kmalloc_reserve(size_t size, int *reserve, gfp_t gfp_flags)
void *result = kmalloc(size, gfp_flags & ~GFP_MEMALLOC);
if (result) {
*reserve = 0;
return result;
result = kmalloc(size, gfp_flags | GFP_MEMALLOC);
if (result) {
*reserve = 1;
return result;
return NULL;

> I've already heard interest from other people to use these hooks to
> provide swap on other non-block filesystems such as jffs2, logfs and the
> like.

I'm interested in the swap_in/swap_out interface for external
write-intent bitmaps for md/raid arrays.
You can have a write-intent bitmap which records which blocks might be
dirty if the host crashes, so that resync is much faster.
It can be stored in a file in a separate filesystem, but that is
currently implemented by using bmap to enumerate the blocks and then
reading/writing directly to the device (like swap). Your interface
would be much nicer for that (not that I think having a
write-intent-bitmap on an NFS filesystem would be a clever idea ;-)

I'll look forward to your next patch set....

One thing I had thought odd while reading the patches, but haven't
found an opportunity to mention before, is the "IS_SWAPFILE" test in
This seems like a layering violation. It would be better if the test
was based on whether ->swapfile had been called on the file. That way
my write-intent-bitmaps would get the same benefit.


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