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SubjectRe: Apparent serious progressive ext4 data corruption bug in 3.6.3 (and other stable branches?)
On Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 09:57:08PM +0100, Nix wrote:
> It is now quite clear that this is a bug introduced by one or more of
> the post-3.6.1 ext4 patches (which have all been backported at least to
> 3.5, so the problem is probably there too).
> [ 60.290844] EXT4-fs error (device dm-3): ext4_mb_generate_buddy:741: group 202, 1583 clusters in bitmap, 1675 in gd
> [ 60.291426] JBD2: Spotted dirty metadata buffer (dev = dm-3, blocknr = 0). There's a risk of filesystem corruption in case of system crash.

I think I've found the problem. I believe the commit at fault is commit
14b4ed22a6 (upstream commit eeecef0af5e):

jbd2: don't write superblock when if its empty

which first appeared in v3.6.2.

The reason why the problem happens rarely is that the effect of the
buggy commit is that if the journal's starting block is zero, we fail
to truncate the journal when we unmount the file system. This can
happen if we mount and then unmount the file system fairly quickly,
before the log has a chance to wrap. After the first time this has
happened, it's not a disaster, since when we replay the journal, we'll
just replay some extra transactions. But if this happens twice, the
oldest valid transaction will still not have gotten updated, but some
of the newer transactions from the last mount session will have gotten
written by the very latest transacitons, and when we then try to do
the extra transaction replays, the metadata blocks can end up getting
very scrambled indeed.

*Sigh*. My apologies for not catching this when I reviewed this
patch. I believe the following patch should fix the bug; once it's
reviewed by other ext4 developers, I'll push this to Linus ASAP.

- Ted

commit 26de1ba5acc39f0ab57ce1ed523cb128e4ad73a4
Author: Theodore Ts'o <>
Date: Tue Oct 23 18:15:22 2012 -0400

jbd2: fix a potential fs corrupting bug in jbd2_mark_journal_empty

Fix a potential file system corrupting bug which was introduced by
commit eeecef0af5ea4efd763c9554cf2bd80fc4a0efd3: jbd2: don't write
superblock when if its empty.

We should only skip writing the journal superblock if there is nothing
to do --- not just when s_start is zero.

This has caused users to report file system corruptions in ext4 that
look like this:

EXT4-fs error (device sdb3): ext4_mb_generate_buddy:741: group 436, 22902 clusters in bitmap, 22901 in gd
JBD2: Spotted dirty metadata buffer (dev = sdb3, blocknr = 0). There's a risk of filesystem corruption in case of system crash.

after the file system has been corrupted.

Signed-off-by: "Theodore Ts'o" <>

diff --git a/fs/jbd2/journal.c b/fs/jbd2/journal.c
index 0f16edd..0064181 100644
--- a/fs/jbd2/journal.c
+++ b/fs/jbd2/journal.c
@@ -1351,18 +1351,20 @@ void jbd2_journal_update_sb_log_tail(journal_t *journal, tid_t tail_tid,
static void jbd2_mark_journal_empty(journal_t *journal)
journal_superblock_t *sb = journal->j_superblock;
+ __be32 new_tail_sequence;

- /* Is it already empty? */
- if (sb->s_start == 0) {
+ new_tail_sequence = cpu_to_be32(journal->j_tail_sequence);
+ /* Nothing to do? */
+ if (sb->s_start == 0 && sb->s_sequence == new_tail_sequence) {
jbd_debug(1, "JBD2: Marking journal as empty (seq %d)\n",

- sb->s_sequence = cpu_to_be32(journal->j_tail_sequence);
+ sb->s_sequence = new_tail_sequence;
sb->s_start = cpu_to_be32(0);

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