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SubjectRe: Do we really need d_weak_revalidate???
Hi Neil,

On 24 August 2017 at 06:07, NeilBrown <> wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 23 2017, Ian Kent wrote:
>> That inconsistency has bothered me for quite a while now.
>> It was carried over from the autofs module behavior when automounting
>> support was added to the VFS. What's worse is it prevents the use of
>> the AT_NO_AUTOMOUNT flag from working properly with fstatat(2) and with
>> statx().
>> There is some risk in changing that so it does work but it really does
>> need to work to enable userspace to not trigger an automount by using
>> this flag.
>> So that's (hopefully) going to change soonish, see:
>> The result should be that stat family calls don't trigger automounts except
>> for fstatat(2) and statx() which will require the AT_NO_AUTOMOUNT flag.
> oooh, yes. That's much better - thanks.
> We should make sure that change gets into the man pages...
> First however, we should probably correct the man page!
> stat.2 says:
> On Linux, lstat() will generally not trigger automounter
> action, whereas stat() will (but see the description of
> fstatat() AT_NO_AUTOMOUNT fag, above).
> which is wrong: lstat and stat treat automounts the same.
> @Michael: do you recall why you inserted that text? The commit message
> in commit 1ef5b2805471 ("stat.2: Cosmetic reworking of timestamp
> discussion in NOTES") is not very helpful.

That commit really was just cosmetic changes. The change that
introduced the text was 82d2be3d9d66b7, based on a note from Peter

> > Additionally, you may want to make a note in the stat/lstat man page tha
t on
> > Linux, lstat(2) will generally not trigger automounter action, whereas
> > stat(2) will.
> I don't understand this last piece. Can you say some more. (I'm not
> familiar with automounter details.)

An automounter (either an explicit one, like autofs, or an implicit
one, such as are used by AFS or NFSv4) is something that triggers
a mount when something is touched.

However, it's undesirable to automount, say, everyone's home
directory just because someone opened up /home in their GUI
browser or typed "ls -l /home". The early automounters simply
didn't list the contents until you accessed it by name;
this is still the case when you can't enumerate a mapping
(say, all DNS names under /net). However, this is extremely
inconvenient, too.

The solution we ended up settling on is to create something
that looks like a directory (i.e. reports S_IFDIR in stat()),
but behaves somewhat like a symlink. In particular, when it is
accessed in a way where a symlink would be dereferenced,
the automount triggers and the directory is mounted. However,
system calls which do *not* cause a symlink to be dereferenced,
like lstat(), also do not cause the automounter to trigger.
This means that "ls -l", or a GUI file browser, can see a list
of directories without causing each one of them to be automounted.




> I propose correcting to
> On Linux, lstat() nor stat() act as though AT_NO_AUTOMOUNT was set
> and will not trigger automounter action for direct automount
> points, though they may (prior to 4.14) for indirect automount
> points.
> The more precise details, that automount action for indirect automount
> points is not triggered when the 'browse' option is used, is probably
> not necessary.
> Ian: if you agree with that text, and Michael doesn't provide alternate
> evidence, I'll submit a formal patch for the man page.... or should we
> just wait until the patch actually lands?
> Thanks,
> NeilBrown

Michael Kerrisk
Linux man-pages maintainer;
Linux/UNIX System Programming Training:

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