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SubjectRe: [PATCH]: Fix SMP-reordering race in mark_buffer_dirty

On Wed, 2 Apr 2008, Andrew Morton wrote:
> You sure? A pretty common case would be overwrite of an already-dirty page
> and from a quick read the only place where we modify bh.b_state is the
> set_buffer_uptodate() and clear_buffer_new() in __block_commit_write(),
> both of which could/should be converted to use the same trick. Like
> __block_prepare_write(), which already does
> if (!buffer_uptodate(bh))
> set_buffer_uptodate(bh);

Well, that particular optimization is safe, but it's safe because
"uptodate" is sticky. Once it gets set, it is never reset.

But in general, it's simply a bad idea to do

if (read)

because it so often has races. This is pretty much exactly the same bug as
we had not long ago with

if (!waitqueue_empty(..))

and for very similar reasons - the "read" part is very fast, yes, but it's
also by definition not actually doing all the careful things that the
atomic operation (whether a CPU-atomic one, or a software-written atomic
with a spinlock one) does.

> What happened here was back in about, umm, 2001 we discovered one or two
> code paths which when optimised in this way led to overall-measurably (not
> just oprofile-measurably) improvements. I don't recall which ones they
> were.
> So we then said oh-goody and sprinkled the same pattern all over the place
> on the off-chance. But I'm sure that over the ages we've let that
> optimisation rot (witness __block_commit_write() above).

And the problem is that

if (!buffer_uptodate(bh))

really isn't "the same" optimization at all as

if (!buffer_dirty(bh) && test_and_set_buffer_dirty(bh)) {

and the latter is simply fundamentally different.

> As I say, I expect we could fix this if we want to. The key point here is
> that a page overwrite does not do lock_buffer(), so it should be possible
> to do the whole operation without modifying bh.b_state. If we wish to do
> that.

Well, if we really want to do this op, then I'd rather make the code be
really obvious what the smp_mb is about, but also make sure that we don't
unnecessarily do *both* the smp_mb and the actual already-serialized bit

But I'd be even happier if we only did these kinds of things when we have
real performance-data that they help.

fs/buffer.c | 15 ++++++++++++++-
1 files changed, 14 insertions(+), 1 deletions(-)

diff --git a/fs/buffer.c b/fs/buffer.c
index 9819632..39ff144 100644
--- a/fs/buffer.c
+++ b/fs/buffer.c
@@ -1181,7 +1181,20 @@ __getblk_slow(struct block_device *bdev, sector_t block, int size)
void mark_buffer_dirty(struct buffer_head *bh)
- if (!buffer_dirty(bh) && !test_set_buffer_dirty(bh))
+ /*
+ * Very *carefully* optimize the it-is-already-dirty case.
+ *
+ * Don't let the final "is it dirty" escape to before we
+ * perhaps modified the buffer.
+ */
+ if (buffer_dirty(bh)) {
+ smp_mb();
+ if (buffer_dirty(bh))
+ return;
+ }
+ if (!test_set_buffer_dirty(bh))
__set_page_dirty(bh->b_page, page_mapping(bh->b_page), 0);

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