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Date:   Sat, 13 Feb 2021 23:04:23 +0100
From:   "Michael Kerrisk (man-pages)" <>
To:     Suren Baghdasaryan <>
Cc:, linux-man <>,
        Andrew Morton <>,
        Jann Horn <>,
        Kees Cook <>,
        Jeffrey Vander Stoep <>,
        Minchan Kim <>,
        Michal Hocko <>,
        Shakeel Butt <>,
        David Rientjes <>,
        Edgar Arriaga GarcĂ­a <>,
        Tim Murray <>,
        linux-mm <>,
        SElinux list <>,
        linux-security-module <>,
        Linux API <>,
        LKML <>,
        kernel-team <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH v3 1/1] process_madvise.2: Add process_madvise man page

Hello Suren,

On 2/2/21 11:12 PM, Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
> Hi Michael,
> On Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 2:45 AM Michael Kerrisk (man-pages)
> <> wrote:
>> Hello Suren (and Minchan and Michal)
>> Thank you for the revisions!
>> I've applied this patch, and done a few light edits.
> Thanks!
>> However, I have a questions about undocumented pieces in *madvise(2)*,
>> as well as one other question. See below.
>> On 2/2/21 6:30 AM, Suren Baghdasaryan wrote:
>>> Initial version of process_madvise(2) manual page. Initial text was
>>> extracted from [1], amended after fix [2] and more details added using
>>> man pages of madvise(2) and process_vm_read(2) as examples. It also
>>> includes the changes to required permission proposed in [3].
>>> [1]
>>> [2]
>>> [3]
>>> Signed-off-by: Suren Baghdasaryan <>
>>> Reviewed-by: Michal Hocko <>
>>> ---
>>> changes in v2:
>>> - Changed description of MADV_COLD per Michal Hocko's suggestion
>>> - Applied fixes suggested by Michael Kerrisk
>>> changes in v3:
>>> - Added Michal's Reviewed-by
>>> - Applied additional fixes suggested by Michael Kerrisk
>>> NAME
>>>     process_madvise - give advice about use of memory to a process
>>>     #include <sys/uio.h>
>>>     ssize_t process_madvise(int pidfd,
>>>                            const struct iovec *iovec,
>>>                            unsigned long vlen,
>>>                            int advice,
>>>                            unsigned int flags);
>>>     The process_madvise() system call is used to give advice or directions
>>>     to the kernel about the address ranges of another process or the calling
>>>     process. It provides the advice to the address ranges described by iovec
>>>     and vlen. The goal of such advice is to improve system or application
>>>     performance.
>>>     The pidfd argument is a PID file descriptor (see pidfd_open(2)) that
>>>     specifies the process to which the advice is to be applied.
>>>     The pointer iovec points to an array of iovec structures, defined in
>>>     <sys/uio.h> as:
>>>     struct iovec {
>>>         void  *iov_base;    /* Starting address */
>>>         size_t iov_len;     /* Number of bytes to transfer */
>>>     };
>>>     The iovec structure describes address ranges beginning at iov_base address
>>>     and with the size of iov_len bytes.
>>>     The vlen represents the number of elements in the iovec structure.
>>>     The advice argument is one of the values listed below.
>>>   Linux-specific advice values
>>>     The following Linux-specific advice values have no counterparts in the
>>>     POSIX-specified posix_madvise(3), and may or may not have counterparts
>>>     in the madvise(2) interface available on other implementations.
>>>     MADV_COLD (since Linux 5.4.1)
>> I just noticed these version numbers now, and thought: they can't be
>> right (because the system call appeared only in v5.11). So I removed
>> them. But, of course in another sense the version numbers are (nearly)
>> right, since these advice values were added for madvise(2) in Linux 5.4.
>> However, they are not documented in the madvise(2) manual page. Is it
>> correct to assume that MADV_COLD and MADV_PAGEOUT have exactly the same
>> meaning in madvise(2) (but just for the calling process, of course)?
> Correct. They should be added in the madvise(2) man page as well IMHO.

So, I decided to move the description of MADV_COLD and MADV_PAGEOUT
to madvise(2) and refer to that page from the process_madvise(2)
page. This avoids repeating the same information in two places.

>>>         Deactive a given range of pages which will make them a more probable
>> I changed: s/Deactive/Deactivate/
> thanks!
>>>         reclaim target should there be a memory pressure. This is a
>>>         nondestructive operation. The advice might be ignored for some pages
>>>         in the range when it is not applicable.
>>>     MADV_PAGEOUT (since Linux 5.4.1)
>>>         Reclaim a given range of pages. This is done to free up memory occupied
>>>         by these pages. If a page is anonymous it will be swapped out. If a
>>>         page is file-backed and dirty it will be written back to the backing
>>>         storage. The advice might be ignored for some pages in the range when
>>>         it is not applicable.
>> [...]
>>>     The hint might be applied to a part of iovec if one of its elements points
>>>     to an invalid memory region in the remote process. No further elements will
>>>     be processed beyond that point.
>> Is the above scenario the one that leads to the partial advice case described in
>> RETURN VALUE? If yes, perhaps I should add some words to make that clearer.
> Correct. This describes the case when partial advice happens.

Thanks. I added a few words to clarify this.

>> You can see the light edits that I made in
>> and following that I restructured DESCRIPTION a little in
> The edits LGTM.

Thanks for checking them.



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

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