Re: [RFC PATCH 0/6] Do not call ->writepage[s] from direct reclaimand use a_ops->writepages() where possible

From: Mel Gorman
Date: Tue Jun 15 2010 - 12:31:12 EST

On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 06:14:19PM +0200, Andrea Arcangeli wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 04:38:38PM +0100, Mel Gorman wrote:
> > That is pretty much what Dave is claiming here at
> > where if mempool_alloc_slab() needed
> This stack trace shows writepage called by shrink_page_list... that
> contradict Christoph's claim that xfs already won't writepage if
> invoked by direct reclaim.

See this

struct page *page,
struct writeback_control *wbc)
int error;
int need_trans;
int delalloc, unmapped, unwritten;
struct inode *inode = page->mapping->host;

trace_xfs_writepage(inode, page, 0);

* Refuse to write the page out if we are called from reclaim
* context.
* This is primarily to avoid stack overflows when called from deep
* used stacks in random callers for direct reclaim, but disabling
* reclaim for kswap is a nice side-effect as kswapd causes rather
* suboptimal I/O patters, too.
* This should really be done by the core VM, but until that happens
* filesystems like XFS, btrfs and ext4 have to take care of this
* by themselves.
if (current->flags & PF_MEMALLOC)
goto out_fail;

> > to allocate a page and writepage was entered, there would have been a
> > a problem.
> There can't be a problem if a page wasn't available in mempool because
> we can't nest two writepage on top of the other or it'd deadlock on fs
> locks and this is the reason of GFP_NOFS, like noticed in the email.

Indeed, this is another case where we wouldn't have bust, just are
dangerously close. As Dave pointed out, we might have been in trouble if
the storage was also complicated but there isn't specific proof - just a
lot of strong evidence.

My 5K example is poor I'll admit but the storage is also a bit simple.
Just one disk, no md, networking or the anything else. This is why the data
I showed focused on how many dirty pages were being encountered during LRU
scanning, stalls and the like rather than the stack usage itself.

> Surely this shows the writepage going very close to the stack
> size... probably not enough to trigger the stack detector but close
> enough to worry! Agreed.
> I think we just need to switch stack on do_try_to_free_pages to solve
> it, and not just writepage or the filesystems.

Again, missing the code to do it and am missing data showing that not
writing pages in direct reclaim is really a bad idea.

> > Broken or not, it's what some of them are doing to avoid stack
> > overflows. Worst, they are ignoring both kswapd and direct reclaim when they
> > only really needed to ignore kswapd. With this series at least, the
> > check for PF_MEMALLOC in ->writepage can be removed
> I don't get how we end up in xfs_buf_ioapply above though if xfs
> writepage is a noop on PF_MEMALLOC. Definitely PF_MEMALLOC is set
> before try_to_free_pages but in the above trace writepage still runs
> and submit the I/O.
> > This series would at least allow kswapd to turn dirty pages into clean
> > ones so it's an improvement.
> Not saying it's not an improvement, but still it's not necessarily the
> right direction.
> > Other than a lack of code to do it :/
> ;)
> > If you really feel strongly about this, you could follow on the series
> > by extending clean_page_list() to switch stack if !kswapd.
> >
> > This has actually been the case for a while. I vaguely recall FS people
> Again not what looks like from the stack trace. Also grepping for
> PF_MEMALLOC in fs/xfs shows nothing.


> In fact it's ext4_write_inode
> that skips the write if PF_MEMALLOC is set, not writepage apparently
> (only did a quick grep so I might be wrong). I suspect
> ext4_write_inode is the case I just mentioned about slab shrink, not
> ->writepage ;).

After grepping through fs/, it was only xfs and btrfs that I saw were
specfically disabling writepage from reclaim context.

> inodes are small, it's no big deal to keep an inode pinned and not
> slab-reclaimable because dirty, while skipping real writepage in
> memory pressure could really open a regression in oom false positives!
> One pagecache much bigger than one inode and there can be plenty more
> dirty pagecache than inodes.
> > i.e. when direct reclaim encounters N dirty pages, unconditionally ask the
> > flusher threads to clean that number of pages, throttle by waiting for them
> > to be cleaned, reclaim them if they get cleaned or otherwise scan more pages
> > on the LRU.
> Not bad at all... throttling is what makes it safe too. Problem is all
> the rest that isn't solved by this and could be solved with a stack
> switch, that's my main reason for considering this a ->writepage only
> hack not complete enough to provide a generic solution for reclaim
> issues ending up in fs->dm->iscsi/bio. I also suspect xfs is more hog
> than others (might not be a coicidence the 7k happens with xfs
> writepage) and could be lightened up a bit by looking into it.

Other than the whole "lacking the code" thing and it's still not clear that
writing from direct reclaim is absolutly necessary for VM stability considering
it's been ignored today by at least two filesystems. I can add the throttling
logic if it'd make you happied but I know it'd be at least two weeks
before I could start from scratch on a
stack-switch-based-solution and a PITA considering that I'm not convinced
it's necessary :)

Mel Gorman
Part-time Phd Student Linux Technology Center
University of Limerick IBM Dublin Software Lab
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