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Date:	Wed, 16 May 2012 15:04:45 +0200
From:	Jan Kara <>
To:	Dave Chinner <>
Cc:	Jan Kara <>,,,,
	Hugh Dickins <>,
Subject: Re: Hole punching and mmap races

On Wed 16-05-12 12:14:23, Dave Chinner wrote:
> On Wed, May 16, 2012 at 12:48:05AM +0200, Jan Kara wrote:
> >   Hello,
> > 
> >   Hugh pointed me to ext4 hole punching code which is clearly missing some
> > locking. But looking at the code more deeply I realized I don't see
> > anything preventing the following race in XFS or ext4:
> > 
> > TASK1				TASK2
> > 				punch_hole(file, 0, 4096)
> > 				  filemap_write_and_wait()
> > 				  truncate_pagecache_range()
> > addr = mmap(file);
> > addr[0] = 1
> >   ^^ writeably fault a page
> > 				  remove file blocks
> > 
> > 						FLUSHER
> > 						write out file
> > 						  ^^ interesting things can
> > happen because we expect blocks under the first page to be allocated /
> > reserved but they are not...
> > 
> > I'm pretty sure ext4 has this problem, I'm not completely sure whether
> > XFS has something to protect against such race but I don't see anything.
> No, it doesn't. It's a known problem due to not being able to take a
> lock in .page_mkwrite() to serialise mmap() IO against truncation or
> other IO such as direct IO. This has been known for, well, long
> before we came up with page_mkwrite(). At the time page_mkwrite()
> was introduced, locking was discusses to solve this problem but was
> considered difficult on the VM side so it was ignored.
  I thought someone must have noticed before since XFS has hole punching for
a long time...

> > It's not easy to protect against these races. For truncate, i_size protects
> > us against similar races but for hole punching we don't have any such
> > mechanism. One way to avoid the race would be to hold mmap_sem while we are
> > invalidating the page cache and punching hole but that sounds a bit ugly.
> > Alternatively we could just have some special lock (rwsem?) held during
> > page_mkwrite() (for reading) and during whole hole punching (for writing)
> > to serialize these two operations.
> What really needs to happen is that .page_mkwrite() can be made to
> fail with -EAGAIN and retry the entire page fault from the start an
> arbitrary number of times instead of just once as the current code
> does with VM_FAULT_RETRY. That would allow us to try to take the
> filesystem lock that provides IO exclusion for all other types of IO
> and fail with EAGAIN if we can't get it without blocking. For XFS,
> that is the i_iolock rwsem, for others it is the i_mutex, and some
> other filesystems might take other locks.
  Actually, I've been playing with VM_FAULT_RETRY recently (for freezing
patches) and it's completely unhandled for .page_mkwrite() callbacks. Also
only x86 really tries to handle it at all. Other architectures just don't
allow it at all. Also there's a ton of callers of things like
get_user_pages() which would need to handle VM_FAULT_RETRY and for some of
them it would be actually non-trivial.

But in this particular case, I don't think VM_FAULT_RETRY is strictly
necessary. We can have a lock, which ranks below mmap_sem (and thus
i_mutex / i_iolock) and above i_mmap_mutex (thus page lock), transaction
start, etc. Such lock could be taken in page_mkwrite() before taking page
lock, in truncate() and punch_hold() just after i_mutex, and direct IO
paths could be tweaked to use it as well I think.

> FWIW, I've been running at "use the IO lock in page_mkwrite" patch
> for XFS for several months now, but I haven't posted it because
> without the VM side being able to handle such locking failures
> gracefully there's not much point in making the change. I did this
> patch to reduce the incidence of mmap vs direct IO races that are
> essentially identical in nature to rule them out of the cause of
> stray delalloc blocks in files that fsstress has been producing on
> XFS. FYI, this race condition hasn't been responsible for any of the
> problems I've found recently....
  Yeah, I've been trying to hit the race window for a while and I failed as

Jan Kara <>
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