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Subject[PATCH -mm 18/25] Downgrade mmap sem while populating mlocked regions
From: Lee Schermerhorn <>

Against: 2.6.26-rc2-mm1

We need to hold the mmap_sem for write to initiatate mlock()/munlock()
because we may need to merge/split vmas. However, this can lead to
very long lock hold times attempting to fault in a large memory region
to mlock it into memory. This can hold off other faults against the
mm [multithreaded tasks] and other scans of the mm, such as via /proc.
To alleviate this, downgrade the mmap_sem to read mode during the
population of the region for locking. This is especially the case
if we need to reclaim memory to lock down the region. We [probably?]
don't need to do this for unlocking as all of the pages should be
resident--they're already mlocked.

Now, the caller's of the mlock functions [mlock_fixup() and
mlock_vma_pages_range()] expect the mmap_sem to be returned in write
mode. Changing all callers appears to be way too much effort at this
point. So, restore write mode before returning. Note that this opens
a window where the mmap list could change in a multithreaded process.
So, at least for mlock_fixup(), where we could be called in a loop over
multiple vmas, we check that a vma still exists at the start address
and that vma still covers the page range [start,end). If not, we return
an error, -EAGAIN, and let the caller deal with it.

Return -EAGAIN from mlock_vma_pages_range() function and mlock_fixup()
if the vma at 'start' disappears or changes so that the page range
[start,end) is no longer contained in the vma. Again, let the caller
deal with it. Looks like only sys_remap_file_pages() [via mmap_region()]
should actually care.

With this patch, I no longer see processes like ps(1) blocked for seconds
or minutes at a time waiting for a large [multiple gigabyte] region to be
locked down. However, I occassionally see delays while unlocking or
unmapping a large mlocked region. Should we also downgrade the mmap_sem
for the unlock path?

Signed-off-by: Lee Schermerhorn <>
Signed-off-by: Rik van Riel <>

V2 -> V3:
+ rebase to 23-mm1 atop RvR's split lru series [no change]
+ fix function return types [void -> int] to fix build when
not configured.

New in V2.

mm/mlock.c | 43 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++--
1 file changed, 41 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

Index: linux-2.6.26-rc2-mm1/mm/mlock.c
--- linux-2.6.26-rc2-mm1.orig/mm/mlock.c 2008-06-06 16:06:28.000000000 -0400
+++ linux-2.6.26-rc2-mm1/mm/mlock.c 2008-06-06 16:06:32.000000000 -0400
@@ -309,6 +309,7 @@ static void __munlock_vma_pages_range(st
int mlock_vma_pages_range(struct vm_area_struct *vma,
unsigned long start, unsigned long end)
+ struct mm_struct *mm = vma->vm_mm;
int nr_pages = (end - start) / PAGE_SIZE;
BUG_ON(!(vma->vm_flags & VM_LOCKED));

@@ -323,7 +324,17 @@ int mlock_vma_pages_range(struct vm_area
vma == get_gate_vma(current))
goto make_present;

- return __mlock_vma_pages_range(vma, start, end);
+ downgrade_write(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ nr_pages = __mlock_vma_pages_range(vma, start, end);
+ up_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ /* vma can change or disappear */
+ down_write(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ vma = find_vma(mm, start);
+ /* non-NULL vma must contain @start, but need to check @end */
+ if (!vma || end > vma->vm_end)
+ return -EAGAIN;
+ return nr_pages;

@@ -418,13 +429,41 @@ success:
vma->vm_flags = newflags;

if (lock) {
+ /*
+ * mmap_sem is currently held for write. Downgrade the write
+ * lock to a read lock so that other faults, mmap scans, ...
+ * while we fault in all pages.
+ */
+ downgrade_write(&mm->mmap_sem);
ret = __mlock_vma_pages_range(vma, start, end);
if (ret > 0) {
mm->locked_vm -= ret;
ret = 0;
- } else
+ /*
+ * Need to reacquire mmap sem in write mode, as our callers
+ * expect this. We have no support for atomically upgrading
+ * a sem to write, so we need to check for ranges while sem
+ * is unlocked.
+ */
+ up_read(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ /* vma can change or disappear */
+ down_write(&mm->mmap_sem);
+ *prev = find_vma(mm, start);
+ /* non-NULL *prev must contain @start, but need to check @end */
+ if (!(*prev) || end > (*prev)->vm_end)
+ ret = -EAGAIN;
+ } else {
+ /*
+ * TODO: for unlocking, pages will already be resident, so
+ * we don't need to wait for allocations/reclaim/pagein, ...
+ * However, unlocking a very large region can still take a
+ * while. Should we downgrade the semaphore for both lock
+ * AND unlock ?
+ */
__munlock_vma_pages_range(vma, start, end);
+ }

*prev = vma;
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