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Date:   Wed, 28 Nov 2018 13:34:54 -0700
From:   Andreas Dilger <>
To:     Alexander Lochmann <>
Cc:     Ext4 Developers List <>,
        Jan Kara <>,
        Horst Schirmeier <>,
        Al Viro <>
Subject: Re: RFC: LockDoc - Detecting Locking Bugs in the Linux Kernel

On Nov 27, 2018, at 3:19 PM, Alexander Lochmann <> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> during the past months we've been developing LockDoc, a trace-based
> approach of Lock Analysis in the Linux Kernel.
> LockDoc uses execution traces of an instrumented Linux Kernel to
> automatically deduce
> locking rules for all members of arbitrary kernel data structures.
> The traces are gathered running a manually selected fs-specific subset
> of the Linux Test Project in a virtual machine.
> These locking rules can be used to generate a comprehensive locking
> documentation and to reveal potential bugs.

This is quite interesting, and looks useful provided that there is a
workload that exercises the various codepaths.  How long does such an
analysis take to run, and is there a plan to make this functionality
available to developers (e.g. either as a web portal, or to be able
to download the code and run it locally)?

> LockDoc generates rules for each tuple of (data structure, member, {r,w}).
> It completely ignores any element of type atomic{,64,long}_t as well as
> atomic_*() functions.
> Accesses during initialization and destruction of objects are also ignored.
> The output of LockDoc looks like this:
> inode member: i_flags [w] (15 lock combinations)
>  hypotheses: 96
>     15.8% (88 out of 558 mem accesses): EMBOTHER(inode.i_rwsem[w]) ->
> EMBSAME(inode.i_rwsem[w])
> inode w:i_flags CEX SEQ
> 'EMBOTHER(inode.i_rwsem[w])' 'EMBSAME(inode.i_rwsem[w])'
>     15.8% (88 out of 558 mem accesses): EMBOTHER(inode.i_rwsem[w])
> inode w:i_flags CEX SEQ
> 'EMBOTHER(inode.i_rwsem[w])'
> !    99.8% (557 out of 558 mem accesses): EMBSAME(inode.i_rwsem[w])
> ! inode w:i_flags CEX SEQ
> 'EMBSAME(inode.i_rwsem[w])'
>      100% (558 out of 558 mem accesses): (no locks held)
>    (no counterexamples to be expected, this hypothesis has 100% support
> in the observation set)
> In this example LockDoc concludes that the lock
> "EMBSAME(inode.i_rwsem[w])" is necessary for writing inode.i_flags.
> EMBSAME stands for the lock embedded in the inode being accessed. In
> this case it is the i_rwsem.
> To be more precise, the write lock (--> "[w]") of i_rwsem is needed.
> Based on this methodology, we can determine code locations that do not
> adhere to the deduced locking rules.
> The reports on rule-violating code include the stack trace and the
> actual locks held.

Looking at the page, it isn't very clear where some of the callpaths go.
For example, in the "writing inode:ext4.i_nlink-__i_nlink" case, it
shows a callpath from vfs_symlink() calling drop_nlink(), but this is not
called directly from vfs_symlink().  It is actually going through
dir->i_op->symlink() (ext4_symlink() in our case), so it would be best
to show that dependency.

One minor bug in ext4_symlink() is that it should probably be calling
clear_nlink() to make it clear the link count should be zero, instead
of drop_nlink(), because we don't really want to trigger "remove_count"
and because the later part of this function is using set_nlink(inode, 1)
instead of inc_nlink() that decrements "remove_count" again.  This does
not solve the reported warning, however.

In ext4_orphan_add(), called immediately after drop_nlink(), it checks:

	WARN_ON_ONCE(!(inode->i_state & (I_NEW | I_FREEING)) &&

so this is the case where i_state has I_NEW set.  The question is whether
it is worthwhile to grab inode_lock() in this code, just to keep the lock
checker happy, or whether the code can be annotated to tell the checker
that I_NEW means i_rwsem is not needed.

Cheers, Andreas

> We've now created a series of bug reports for the following data types:
> struct inode (used by ext4), journal_t, and transaction_t.
> We present the counterexamples for each tuple of (data structure,
> member, {r,w}).
> Depending on the complexity of the callgraph, the counterexamples are
> either embedded in the callgraph or the callgraph is shown below them.
> In the latter case, zooming can be enabled via a button in the heading.
> We kindly ask you to have a look at our findings and send us some
> comments back:
> Our approach has already revealed one real bug and one suspicious
> situation. Both have been confirmed by Jan.
> Best regards,
> Alex and Horst
> --
> Technische Universit├Ąt Dortmund
> Alexander Lochmann                PGP key: 0xBC3EF6FD
> Otto-Hahn-Str. 16                 phone:  +49.231.7556141
> D-44227 Dortmund                  fax:    +49.231.7556116

Cheers, Andreas

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