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SubjectRe: [PATCH 3/6] ksm: change the KSM_REMOVE_MEMORY_REGION ioctl.
On Wed, 6 May 2009, Andrea Arcangeli wrote:
> On Wed, May 06, 2009 at 12:16:52PM +0100, Hugh Dickins wrote:
> > I'm very much with those who suggested an madvise(), for which Chris
> > prepared a patch. I know Andrea felt uneasy with an madvise() going
> > to a possibly-configured-out-or-never-loaded module, but it is just
> > advice, so I don't have a problem with that myself, so long as it
> > is documented in the manpage.
> I don't have so much of a problem with that, but there are a couple of
> differences: normally madvise doesn't depend on the admin to start
> some kernel thread to be meaningful, and normally madvise isn't a
> privileged operation, see below.
> > Whereas I do worry just what capability should be required for this:
> > can't a greedy app simply fork itself, touch all its pages, and thus
> > lock itself into memory in this way? And I do worry about the cpu
> KSM pages are supposed to be swappable in the long run so let's think
> longer term.

And in the interim, insist on capable(CAP_IPC_LOCK)?
If that's okay for KVM's usage, that's fine by me for now.

Whether not having privilege means it should fail or silently ignore
the advice it's been given, I'm not sure: fail appears more helpful, but
silently ignore may fit better with whether module has been loaded yet
(we can keep a list of what's registered, for when module is loaded).

> > cost of all the scanning, if it were to get used more generally -
> > it would be a pity if we just advised complainers to tune it out.
> Clearly if tons of apps maliciously register themself in ksm, they'll
> waste tons of CPU for no good, they'll just populate the unstable tree
> with pages that are all equal except for the last 4 bytes slowing down
> KSM for nothing.

You're right to be concerned about the malicious, but I was thinking
rather of apps just wanting to say they may contain a goodly number
of duplicate pages, and wanting to register themselves for merging,
no malice intended.

If only for my hacked-up testing, I'm interested in having a workable
system on which every process has opted the whole of its address space
into this merging: never be optimal, but I'd like workable.

> This is also why it's good to have a /dev/ksm ioctl
> that the admin can allow only certain users to use for registering
> virtual ranges (for example only the kvm/qemu user or all users in
> scientific environments). Otherwise we'd need some kind of permissions
> settings in sysfs with some API that certainly is less intuitive than
> chown/chmod on /dev/ksm. We just can't allow madvise to succeed on any
> luser registering itself in KSM, so if it was madvise, it shall return
> -EPERM somehow sometime.

I don't see a role for /dev/ksm any more. I'm glad the administrative
tunables have now been switched over to sysfs, and think that should be
used for these restrictions too.

And please don't think of non-KVM users of KSM as malicious lusers!

> > I'm still working my way through ksm.c, and not gone back to look at
> > Chris's madvise patch, but doubt it will be sufficient. There's an
> > interesting difference between what you're doing in ksm.c, and how
> > madvise usually behaves, regarding unmapped areas: madvice doesn't
> > usually apply to an unmapped area, and goes away with an area when
> > it is unmapped; whereas in KSM's case, the advice applies to whatever
> > happens to get mapped in the area specified, persisting across unmaps.
> Given the apps using KSM tends to be quite special, the fact it's
> sticky, it doesn't go away with munmap isn't big deal, quite to the
> contrary those apps will likely have an easier time thanks to the
> registration not going away over munmap/mmap, without requiring
> reloading of malloc/new calls.

I don't have a fixed view on this: I'm open to it behaving differently
in this way (SuS on madvise certainly doesn't prohibit it), but suspect
we might end up better off behaving consistently.

> To skip over holes during virtual scans we just vma->vm_next.

Is that in updates yet to come? I see things like
for (pages_count = 0; pages_count < slot->npages; ++pages_count)
which will, of course, eventually get across any hole and move into
vma->vm_next, but take vastly longer to do so than necessary.

> > But I do appreciate the separation you've kept so far,
> > and wouldn't want to tie it all together too closely.
> The above plus the fact it remains self contained without making the
> VM any more complicated, gives some value.

Yes, that's admirable, and shouldn't be discarded lightly.
But we do also need to be careful about letting subsystems go their
own way. I was _very_ pleased to find it all sited in mm/, rather
than hidden away elsewhere, as I'd originally feared.

> Even swapping I'd like to
> add it without VM specific knowledge about KSM. tmpfs has an easier
> time because it has its own vma type, here we've KSM pages mixed
> inside regular anonymous !vma->vm_file regions and !vm_ops.

Well, whatever works out simplest, probably. I think there's a good
chance that doing it with tmpfs pages will work out simplest, but
perfectly possible also that that's a no-go for some reason.

> > p.s. I wish you'd chosen different name than KSM - the kernel
> > has supported shared memory for many years - and notice ksm.c itself
> > says "Memory merging driver". "Merge" would indeed have been a less
> > ambiguous term than "Share", but I think too late to change that now
> > - except possibly in the MADV_ flag names?
> I don't actually care about names, so I leave this to other to discuss.


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