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SubjectRe: [PATCH 0/9] Support follow_link in RCU-walk.
On Thu, 5 Mar 2015 06:05:20 +0000 Al Viro <> wrote:

> On Thu, Mar 05, 2015 at 04:21:21PM +1100, NeilBrown wrote:
> > Hi Al (and others),
> >
> > I wonder if you could look over this patchset.
> > It allows RCU-walk to follow symlinks in many common cases,
> > thus removing a surprising performance hit caused by using symlinks.
> >
> > The last could of patches make changes to XFS and NFS to support
> > this but I haven't forwarded to the relevant lists yet.
> > If/when the early code meets with approval I'll do that.
> >
> > The first patch almost certainly needs to be changed. I originally
> > wrote this code when filesystems could see inside nameidata.
> > It is now opaque so the simplest solution was to provide an
> > accessor function.
> > Maybe I should as a 'flags' arg to ->follow_link?? Or have
> > ->follow_link and ->follow_link_rcu ??
> > What do you suggest?
> Umm... Some observations:
> * now ->follow_link() can be called in RCU mode, which means
> that it can race with fs shutdown; not a problem, except that now it
> joins ->lookup() in "if some data structure is needed in RCU
> case of that, make sure it's not destroyed without an RCU delay somewhere
> between the entry into ->kill_sb() and destruction.

So inodes and dentries and associated private data should already be safe.
And s_fs_info can be used if it is freed by e.g. kfree_rcu (like autofs)
but not if just kfree (like ext3).

xfs_fs_put_super() directly frees the 'xfs_mount', which xfs_readlink
accesses. I guess that needs to be fixed.

> * highmem pages in symlinks: that BS shouldn't be allowed at
> all. Just make sure that at least for those filesystems symlink inodes
> get mapping_set_gfp_mask(&inode->i_data, GFP_KERNEL) and be done with that.

page_getlink() already uses kmap(), implying that highmem pages are
supported. All I'm doing is making sure that my page_getlink_rcu()
doesn't fail horribly if the page is a highmem page.

If a filesystem needs improved follow_link performance on a highmem machine,
then setting the gfp_mask as you suggest is probably a good idea, but I don't
really want to impose that on filesystems if I don't need to. And at present
I don't.
So I'd rather leave it to the filesystem maintainer, or someone who discovers
a need.

> * are you sure that security_inode_follow_link() is OK to call in
> RCU mode?

avc_has_perm() doesn't look RCU safe, even without auditing enabled.
At the very least we'll need to pass a "lookup_rcu" flag in there.

> * what warranties are you giving for the lifetime of strings
> passed to nd_set_link()? Right now it's "should not be freed until the
> matching ->put_link()"; what happens for RCU mode?

The same....

For XFS, we kmalloc a buffer GFP_ATOMIC and copy into that. Then
put_link() kfrees it.
For filesystems with the symlink in the page cache, we get a reference to
the page (which is a bit heavy-handed for RCU-walk, but much less so than the
current code) and drop the reference in ->put_link.

For filesystems with a short symlink in the inode, we just provide a pointer
to that... How long can we expect that to be around?
I cannot see any provision for keeping those inodes in memory while we
follow the symlink... What am I missing?

In any case, if there is a reference held on the inode for ref-walk, then
presumably complete_walk() will take a reference on that same inode when
dropping out of rcu-walk.... I hope.

So I think the rules here are unchanged.

> * really nasty one: creat(2) on a dangling symlink. What's to
> preserve the last component if you get into that symlink in RCU mode?

As above - we will have a counted reference to whatever holds the text of the

> TBH, I'm less than fond of passing nameidata to ->follow_link() at all,
> flags or no flags. We could kill current->link_count and
> current->total_link_count, replacing them with one void * current->nameidata
> and taking counters into struct nameidata itself. Have places like e.g.
> kern_path_locked() do
> struct nameidata nd, *saved = set_nameidata(&nd);
> ...
> set_nameidata(saved);
> with set_nameidata(p) doing this:
> old = current->nameidata;
> current->nameidata = p;
> if (p) {
> if (!old) {
> p->link_count = 0;
> p->total_link_count = 0;
> } else {
> p->link_count = old->link_count;
> p->total_link_count = old->total_link_count;
> }
> }
> return old;
> Then nd_set_link() would use current->nameidata instead of an
> explicitly passed pointer and ->follow_link() instances wouldn't need
> that opaque pointer passed to them at all.

Sounds interesting - I might try it.

Would ->follow_link() than get a 'flags' argument, or would "nd_is_rcu()"
reference current->nameidata->flags ??


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