[PATCH] Correct nr_processes() when CPUs have been unplugged

From: Ian Campbell
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 05:21:05 EST

nr_processes() returns the sum of the per cpu counter process_counts for
all online CPUs. This counter is incremented for the current CPU on
fork() and decremented for the current CPU on exit(). Since a process
does not necessarily fork and exit on the same CPU the process_count for
an individual CPU can be either positive or negative and effectively has
no meaning in isolation.

Therefore calculating the sum of process_counts over only the online
CPUs omits the processes which were started or stopped on any CPU which
has since been unplugged. Only the sum of process_counts across all
possible CPUs has meaning.

The only caller of nr_processes() is proc_root_getattr() which
calculates the number of links to /proc as
stat->nlink = proc_root.nlink + nr_processes();

You don't have to be all that unlucky for the nr_processes() to return a
negative value leading to a negative number of links (or rather, an
apparently enormous number of links). If this happens then you can get
failures where things like "ls /proc" start to fail because they got an
-EOVERFLOW from some stat() call.

Example with some debugging inserted to show what goes on:
# ps haux|wc -l
nr_processes: CPU0: 90
nr_processes: CPU1: 1030
nr_processes: CPU2: -900
nr_processes: CPU3: -136
nr_processes: TOTAL: 84
proc_root_getattr. nlink 12 + nr_processes() 84 = 96
# echo 0 >/sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu1/online
# ps haux|wc -l
nr_processes: CPU0: 85
nr_processes: CPU2: -901
nr_processes: CPU3: -137
nr_processes: TOTAL: -953
proc_root_getattr. nlink 12 + nr_processes() -953 = -941
# stat /proc/
nr_processes: CPU0: 84
nr_processes: CPU2: -901
nr_processes: CPU3: -137
nr_processes: TOTAL: -954
proc_root_getattr. nlink 12 + nr_processes() -954 = -942
File: `/proc/'
Size: 0 Blocks: 0 IO Block: 1024 directory
Device: 3h/3d Inode: 1 Links: 4294966354
Access: (0555/dr-xr-xr-x) Uid: ( 0/ root) Gid: ( 0/ root)
Access: 2009-11-03 09:06:55.000000000 +0000
Modify: 2009-11-03 09:06:55.000000000 +0000
Change: 2009-11-03 09:06:55.000000000 +0000

I'm not 100% convinced that the per_cpu regions remain valid for offline
CPUs, although my testing suggests that they do. If not then I think the
correct solution would be to aggregate the process_count for a given CPU
into a global base value in cpu_down().

This bug appears to pre-date the transition to git and it looks like it
may even have been present in linux-2.6.0-test7-bk3 since it looks like
the code Rusty patched in http://lwn.net/Articles/64773/ was already

Signed-off-by: Ian Campbell <ian.campbell@xxxxxxxxxx>

diff --git a/kernel/fork.c b/kernel/fork.c
index 4b36858..7af7217 100644
--- a/kernel/fork.c
+++ b/kernel/fork.c
@@ -89,7 +89,7 @@ int nr_processes(void)
int cpu;
int total = 0;

- for_each_online_cpu(cpu)
+ for_each_possible_cpu(cpu)
total += per_cpu(process_counts, cpu);

return total;

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