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authorFathi Boudra <fathi.boudra@linaro.org>2013-04-28 09:33:08 +0300
committerFathi Boudra <fathi.boudra@linaro.org>2013-04-28 09:33:08 +0300
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treeb9996006addfd7ae70a39672b76843b49aebc189 /Documentation/RCU/listRCU.txt
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+Using RCU to Protect Read-Mostly Linked Lists
+
+
+One of the best applications of RCU is to protect read-mostly linked lists
+("struct list_head" in list.h). One big advantage of this approach
+is that all of the required memory barriers are included for you in
+the list macros. This document describes several applications of RCU,
+with the best fits first.
+
+
+Example 1: Read-Side Action Taken Outside of Lock, No In-Place Updates
+
+The best applications are cases where, if reader-writer locking were
+used, the read-side lock would be dropped before taking any action
+based on the results of the search. The most celebrated example is
+the routing table. Because the routing table is tracking the state of
+equipment outside of the computer, it will at times contain stale data.
+Therefore, once the route has been computed, there is no need to hold
+the routing table static during transmission of the packet. After all,
+you can hold the routing table static all you want, but that won't keep
+the external Internet from changing, and it is the state of the external
+Internet that really matters. In addition, routing entries are typically
+added or deleted, rather than being modified in place.
+
+A straightforward example of this use of RCU may be found in the
+system-call auditing support. For example, a reader-writer locked
+implementation of audit_filter_task() might be as follows:
+
+ static enum audit_state audit_filter_task(struct task_struct *tsk)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+ enum audit_state state;
+
+ read_lock(&auditsc_lock);
+ /* Note: audit_netlink_sem held by caller. */
+ list_for_each_entry(e, &audit_tsklist, list) {
+ if (audit_filter_rules(tsk, &e->rule, NULL, &state)) {
+ read_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return state;
+ }
+ }
+ read_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return AUDIT_BUILD_CONTEXT;
+ }
+
+Here the list is searched under the lock, but the lock is dropped before
+the corresponding value is returned. By the time that this value is acted
+on, the list may well have been modified. This makes sense, since if
+you are turning auditing off, it is OK to audit a few extra system calls.
+
+This means that RCU can be easily applied to the read side, as follows:
+
+ static enum audit_state audit_filter_task(struct task_struct *tsk)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+ enum audit_state state;
+
+ rcu_read_lock();
+ /* Note: audit_netlink_sem held by caller. */
+ list_for_each_entry_rcu(e, &audit_tsklist, list) {
+ if (audit_filter_rules(tsk, &e->rule, NULL, &state)) {
+ rcu_read_unlock();
+ return state;
+ }
+ }
+ rcu_read_unlock();
+ return AUDIT_BUILD_CONTEXT;
+ }
+
+The read_lock() and read_unlock() calls have become rcu_read_lock()
+and rcu_read_unlock(), respectively, and the list_for_each_entry() has
+become list_for_each_entry_rcu(). The _rcu() list-traversal primitives
+insert the read-side memory barriers that are required on DEC Alpha CPUs.
+
+The changes to the update side are also straightforward. A reader-writer
+lock might be used as follows for deletion and insertion:
+
+ static inline int audit_del_rule(struct audit_rule *rule,
+ struct list_head *list)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+
+ write_lock(&auditsc_lock);
+ list_for_each_entry(e, list, list) {
+ if (!audit_compare_rule(rule, &e->rule)) {
+ list_del(&e->list);
+ write_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return 0;
+ }
+ }
+ write_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return -EFAULT; /* No matching rule */
+ }
+
+ static inline int audit_add_rule(struct audit_entry *entry,
+ struct list_head *list)
+ {
+ write_lock(&auditsc_lock);
+ if (entry->rule.flags & AUDIT_PREPEND) {
+ entry->rule.flags &= ~AUDIT_PREPEND;
+ list_add(&entry->list, list);
+ } else {
+ list_add_tail(&entry->list, list);
+ }
+ write_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return 0;
+ }
+
+Following are the RCU equivalents for these two functions:
+
+ static inline int audit_del_rule(struct audit_rule *rule,
+ struct list_head *list)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+
+ /* Do not use the _rcu iterator here, since this is the only
+ * deletion routine. */
+ list_for_each_entry(e, list, list) {
+ if (!audit_compare_rule(rule, &e->rule)) {
+ list_del_rcu(&e->list);
+ call_rcu(&e->rcu, audit_free_rule);
+ return 0;
+ }
+ }
+ return -EFAULT; /* No matching rule */
+ }
+
+ static inline int audit_add_rule(struct audit_entry *entry,
+ struct list_head *list)
+ {
+ if (entry->rule.flags & AUDIT_PREPEND) {
+ entry->rule.flags &= ~AUDIT_PREPEND;
+ list_add_rcu(&entry->list, list);
+ } else {
+ list_add_tail_rcu(&entry->list, list);
+ }
+ return 0;
+ }
+
+Normally, the write_lock() and write_unlock() would be replaced by
+a spin_lock() and a spin_unlock(), but in this case, all callers hold
+audit_netlink_sem, so no additional locking is required. The auditsc_lock
+can therefore be eliminated, since use of RCU eliminates the need for
+writers to exclude readers. Normally, the write_lock() calls would
+be converted into spin_lock() calls.
+
+The list_del(), list_add(), and list_add_tail() primitives have been
+replaced by list_del_rcu(), list_add_rcu(), and list_add_tail_rcu().
+The _rcu() list-manipulation primitives add memory barriers that are
+needed on weakly ordered CPUs (most of them!). The list_del_rcu()
+primitive omits the pointer poisoning debug-assist code that would
+otherwise cause concurrent readers to fail spectacularly.
+
+So, when readers can tolerate stale data and when entries are either added
+or deleted, without in-place modification, it is very easy to use RCU!
+
+
+Example 2: Handling In-Place Updates
+
+The system-call auditing code does not update auditing rules in place.
+However, if it did, reader-writer-locked code to do so might look as
+follows (presumably, the field_count is only permitted to decrease,
+otherwise, the added fields would need to be filled in):
+
+ static inline int audit_upd_rule(struct audit_rule *rule,
+ struct list_head *list,
+ __u32 newaction,
+ __u32 newfield_count)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+ struct audit_newentry *ne;
+
+ write_lock(&auditsc_lock);
+ /* Note: audit_netlink_sem held by caller. */
+ list_for_each_entry(e, list, list) {
+ if (!audit_compare_rule(rule, &e->rule)) {
+ e->rule.action = newaction;
+ e->rule.file_count = newfield_count;
+ write_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return 0;
+ }
+ }
+ write_unlock(&auditsc_lock);
+ return -EFAULT; /* No matching rule */
+ }
+
+The RCU version creates a copy, updates the copy, then replaces the old
+entry with the newly updated entry. This sequence of actions, allowing
+concurrent reads while doing a copy to perform an update, is what gives
+RCU ("read-copy update") its name. The RCU code is as follows:
+
+ static inline int audit_upd_rule(struct audit_rule *rule,
+ struct list_head *list,
+ __u32 newaction,
+ __u32 newfield_count)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+ struct audit_newentry *ne;
+
+ list_for_each_entry(e, list, list) {
+ if (!audit_compare_rule(rule, &e->rule)) {
+ ne = kmalloc(sizeof(*entry), GFP_ATOMIC);
+ if (ne == NULL)
+ return -ENOMEM;
+ audit_copy_rule(&ne->rule, &e->rule);
+ ne->rule.action = newaction;
+ ne->rule.file_count = newfield_count;
+ list_replace_rcu(&e->list, &ne->list);
+ call_rcu(&e->rcu, audit_free_rule);
+ return 0;
+ }
+ }
+ return -EFAULT; /* No matching rule */
+ }
+
+Again, this assumes that the caller holds audit_netlink_sem. Normally,
+the reader-writer lock would become a spinlock in this sort of code.
+
+
+Example 3: Eliminating Stale Data
+
+The auditing examples above tolerate stale data, as do most algorithms
+that are tracking external state. Because there is a delay from the
+time the external state changes before Linux becomes aware of the change,
+additional RCU-induced staleness is normally not a problem.
+
+However, there are many examples where stale data cannot be tolerated.
+One example in the Linux kernel is the System V IPC (see the ipc_lock()
+function in ipc/util.c). This code checks a "deleted" flag under a
+per-entry spinlock, and, if the "deleted" flag is set, pretends that the
+entry does not exist. For this to be helpful, the search function must
+return holding the per-entry spinlock, as ipc_lock() does in fact do.
+
+Quick Quiz: Why does the search function need to return holding the
+ per-entry lock for this deleted-flag technique to be helpful?
+
+If the system-call audit module were to ever need to reject stale data,
+one way to accomplish this would be to add a "deleted" flag and a "lock"
+spinlock to the audit_entry structure, and modify audit_filter_task()
+as follows:
+
+ static enum audit_state audit_filter_task(struct task_struct *tsk)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+ enum audit_state state;
+
+ rcu_read_lock();
+ list_for_each_entry_rcu(e, &audit_tsklist, list) {
+ if (audit_filter_rules(tsk, &e->rule, NULL, &state)) {
+ spin_lock(&e->lock);
+ if (e->deleted) {
+ spin_unlock(&e->lock);
+ rcu_read_unlock();
+ return AUDIT_BUILD_CONTEXT;
+ }
+ rcu_read_unlock();
+ return state;
+ }
+ }
+ rcu_read_unlock();
+ return AUDIT_BUILD_CONTEXT;
+ }
+
+Note that this example assumes that entries are only added and deleted.
+Additional mechanism is required to deal correctly with the
+update-in-place performed by audit_upd_rule(). For one thing,
+audit_upd_rule() would need additional memory barriers to ensure
+that the list_add_rcu() was really executed before the list_del_rcu().
+
+The audit_del_rule() function would need to set the "deleted"
+flag under the spinlock as follows:
+
+ static inline int audit_del_rule(struct audit_rule *rule,
+ struct list_head *list)
+ {
+ struct audit_entry *e;
+
+ /* Do not need to use the _rcu iterator here, since this
+ * is the only deletion routine. */
+ list_for_each_entry(e, list, list) {
+ if (!audit_compare_rule(rule, &e->rule)) {
+ spin_lock(&e->lock);
+ list_del_rcu(&e->list);
+ e->deleted = 1;
+ spin_unlock(&e->lock);
+ call_rcu(&e->rcu, audit_free_rule);
+ return 0;
+ }
+ }
+ return -EFAULT; /* No matching rule */
+ }
+
+
+Summary
+
+Read-mostly list-based data structures that can tolerate stale data are
+the most amenable to use of RCU. The simplest case is where entries are
+either added or deleted from the data structure (or atomically modified
+in place), but non-atomic in-place modifications can be handled by making
+a copy, updating the copy, then replacing the original with the copy.
+If stale data cannot be tolerated, then a "deleted" flag may be used
+in conjunction with a per-entry spinlock in order to allow the search
+function to reject newly deleted data.
+
+
+Answer to Quick Quiz
+ Why does the search function need to return holding the per-entry
+ lock for this deleted-flag technique to be helpful?
+
+ If the search function drops the per-entry lock before returning,
+ then the caller will be processing stale data in any case. If it
+ is really OK to be processing stale data, then you don't need a
+ "deleted" flag. If processing stale data really is a problem,
+ then you need to hold the per-entry lock across all of the code
+ that uses the value that was returned.