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+ Overview of the Linux Virtual File System
+ Original author: Richard Gooch <rgooch@atnf.csiro.au>
+ Last updated on June 24, 2007.
+ Copyright (C) 1999 Richard Gooch
+ Copyright (C) 2005 Pekka Enberg
+ This file is released under the GPLv2.
+The Virtual File System (also known as the Virtual Filesystem Switch)
+is the software layer in the kernel that provides the filesystem
+interface to userspace programs. It also provides an abstraction
+within the kernel which allows different filesystem implementations to
+VFS system calls open(2), stat(2), read(2), write(2), chmod(2) and so
+on are called from a process context. Filesystem locking is described
+in the document Documentation/filesystems/Locking.
+Directory Entry Cache (dcache)
+The VFS implements the open(2), stat(2), chmod(2), and similar system
+calls. The pathname argument that is passed to them is used by the VFS
+to search through the directory entry cache (also known as the dentry
+cache or dcache). This provides a very fast look-up mechanism to
+translate a pathname (filename) into a specific dentry. Dentries live
+in RAM and are never saved to disc: they exist only for performance.
+The dentry cache is meant to be a view into your entire filespace. As
+most computers cannot fit all dentries in the RAM at the same time,
+some bits of the cache are missing. In order to resolve your pathname
+into a dentry, the VFS may have to resort to creating dentries along
+the way, and then loading the inode. This is done by looking up the
+The Inode Object
+An individual dentry usually has a pointer to an inode. Inodes are
+filesystem objects such as regular files, directories, FIFOs and other
+beasts. They live either on the disc (for block device filesystems)
+or in the memory (for pseudo filesystems). Inodes that live on the
+disc are copied into the memory when required and changes to the inode
+are written back to disc. A single inode can be pointed to by multiple
+dentries (hard links, for example, do this).
+To look up an inode requires that the VFS calls the lookup() method of
+the parent directory inode. This method is installed by the specific
+filesystem implementation that the inode lives in. Once the VFS has
+the required dentry (and hence the inode), we can do all those boring
+things like open(2) the file, or stat(2) it to peek at the inode
+data. The stat(2) operation is fairly simple: once the VFS has the
+dentry, it peeks at the inode data and passes some of it back to
+The File Object
+Opening a file requires another operation: allocation of a file
+structure (this is the kernel-side implementation of file
+descriptors). The freshly allocated file structure is initialized with
+a pointer to the dentry and a set of file operation member functions.
+These are taken from the inode data. The open() file method is then
+called so the specific filesystem implementation can do its work. You
+can see that this is another switch performed by the VFS. The file
+structure is placed into the file descriptor table for the process.
+Reading, writing and closing files (and other assorted VFS operations)
+is done by using the userspace file descriptor to grab the appropriate
+file structure, and then calling the required file structure method to
+do whatever is required. For as long as the file is open, it keeps the
+dentry in use, which in turn means that the VFS inode is still in use.
+Registering and Mounting a Filesystem
+To register and unregister a filesystem, use the following API
+ #include <linux/fs.h>
+ extern int register_filesystem(struct file_system_type *);
+ extern int unregister_filesystem(struct file_system_type *);
+The passed struct file_system_type describes your filesystem. When a
+request is made to mount a filesystem onto a directory in your namespace,
+the VFS will call the appropriate mount() method for the specific
+filesystem. New vfsmount referring to the tree returned by ->mount()
+will be attached to the mountpoint, so that when pathname resolution
+reaches the mountpoint it will jump into the root of that vfsmount.
+You can see all filesystems that are registered to the kernel in the
+file /proc/filesystems.
+struct file_system_type
+This describes the filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.39, the following
+members are defined:
+struct file_system_type {
+ const char *name;
+ int fs_flags;
+ struct dentry *(*mount) (struct file_system_type *, int,
+ const char *, void *);
+ void (*kill_sb) (struct super_block *);
+ struct module *owner;
+ struct file_system_type * next;
+ struct list_head fs_supers;
+ struct lock_class_key s_lock_key;
+ struct lock_class_key s_umount_key;
+ name: the name of the filesystem type, such as "ext2", "iso9660",
+ "msdos" and so on
+ fs_flags: various flags (i.e. FS_REQUIRES_DEV, FS_NO_DCACHE, etc.)
+ mount: the method to call when a new instance of this
+ filesystem should be mounted
+ kill_sb: the method to call when an instance of this filesystem
+ should be shut down
+ owner: for internal VFS use: you should initialize this to THIS_MODULE in
+ most cases.
+ next: for internal VFS use: you should initialize this to NULL
+ s_lock_key, s_umount_key: lockdep-specific
+The mount() method has the following arguments:
+ struct file_system_type *fs_type: describes the filesystem, partly initialized
+ by the specific filesystem code
+ int flags: mount flags
+ const char *dev_name: the device name we are mounting.
+ void *data: arbitrary mount options, usually comes as an ASCII
+ string (see "Mount Options" section)
+The mount() method must return the root dentry of the tree requested by
+caller. An active reference to its superblock must be grabbed and the
+superblock must be locked. On failure it should return ERR_PTR(error).
+The arguments match those of mount(2) and their interpretation
+depends on filesystem type. E.g. for block filesystems, dev_name is
+interpreted as block device name, that device is opened and if it
+contains a suitable filesystem image the method creates and initializes
+struct super_block accordingly, returning its root dentry to caller.
+->mount() may choose to return a subtree of existing filesystem - it
+doesn't have to create a new one. The main result from the caller's
+point of view is a reference to dentry at the root of (sub)tree to
+be attached; creation of new superblock is a common side effect.
+The most interesting member of the superblock structure that the
+mount() method fills in is the "s_op" field. This is a pointer to
+a "struct super_operations" which describes the next level of the
+filesystem implementation.
+Usually, a filesystem uses one of the generic mount() implementations
+and provides a fill_super() callback instead. The generic variants are:
+ mount_bdev: mount a filesystem residing on a block device
+ mount_nodev: mount a filesystem that is not backed by a device
+ mount_single: mount a filesystem which shares the instance between
+ all mounts
+A fill_super() callback implementation has the following arguments:
+ struct super_block *sb: the superblock structure. The callback
+ must initialize this properly.
+ void *data: arbitrary mount options, usually comes as an ASCII
+ string (see "Mount Options" section)
+ int silent: whether or not to be silent on error
+The Superblock Object
+A superblock object represents a mounted filesystem.
+struct super_operations
+This describes how the VFS can manipulate the superblock of your
+filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.22, the following members are defined:
+struct super_operations {
+ struct inode *(*alloc_inode)(struct super_block *sb);
+ void (*destroy_inode)(struct inode *);
+ void (*dirty_inode) (struct inode *, int flags);
+ int (*write_inode) (struct inode *, int);
+ void (*drop_inode) (struct inode *);
+ void (*delete_inode) (struct inode *);
+ void (*put_super) (struct super_block *);
+ int (*sync_fs)(struct super_block *sb, int wait);
+ int (*freeze_fs) (struct super_block *);
+ int (*unfreeze_fs) (struct super_block *);
+ int (*statfs) (struct dentry *, struct kstatfs *);
+ int (*remount_fs) (struct super_block *, int *, char *);
+ void (*clear_inode) (struct inode *);
+ void (*umount_begin) (struct super_block *);
+ int (*show_options)(struct seq_file *, struct dentry *);
+ ssize_t (*quota_read)(struct super_block *, int, char *, size_t, loff_t);
+ ssize_t (*quota_write)(struct super_block *, int, const char *, size_t, loff_t);
+ int (*nr_cached_objects)(struct super_block *);
+ void (*free_cached_objects)(struct super_block *, int);
+All methods are called without any locks being held, unless otherwise
+noted. This means that most methods can block safely. All methods are
+only called from a process context (i.e. not from an interrupt handler
+or bottom half).
+ alloc_inode: this method is called by inode_alloc() to allocate memory
+ for struct inode and initialize it. If this function is not
+ defined, a simple 'struct inode' is allocated. Normally
+ alloc_inode will be used to allocate a larger structure which
+ contains a 'struct inode' embedded within it.
+ destroy_inode: this method is called by destroy_inode() to release
+ resources allocated for struct inode. It is only required if
+ ->alloc_inode was defined and simply undoes anything done by
+ ->alloc_inode.
+ dirty_inode: this method is called by the VFS to mark an inode dirty.
+ write_inode: this method is called when the VFS needs to write an
+ inode to disc. The second parameter indicates whether the write
+ should be synchronous or not, not all filesystems check this flag.
+ drop_inode: called when the last access to the inode is dropped,
+ with the inode->i_lock spinlock held.
+ This method should be either NULL (normal UNIX filesystem
+ semantics) or "generic_delete_inode" (for filesystems that do not
+ want to cache inodes - causing "delete_inode" to always be
+ called regardless of the value of i_nlink)
+ The "generic_delete_inode()" behavior is equivalent to the
+ old practice of using "force_delete" in the put_inode() case,
+ but does not have the races that the "force_delete()" approach
+ had.
+ delete_inode: called when the VFS wants to delete an inode
+ put_super: called when the VFS wishes to free the superblock
+ (i.e. unmount). This is called with the superblock lock held
+ sync_fs: called when VFS is writing out all dirty data associated with
+ a superblock. The second parameter indicates whether the method
+ should wait until the write out has been completed. Optional.
+ freeze_fs: called when VFS is locking a filesystem and
+ forcing it into a consistent state. This method is currently
+ used by the Logical Volume Manager (LVM).
+ unfreeze_fs: called when VFS is unlocking a filesystem and making it writable
+ again.
+ statfs: called when the VFS needs to get filesystem statistics.
+ remount_fs: called when the filesystem is remounted. This is called
+ with the kernel lock held
+ clear_inode: called then the VFS clears the inode. Optional
+ umount_begin: called when the VFS is unmounting a filesystem.
+ show_options: called by the VFS to show mount options for
+ /proc/<pid>/mounts. (see "Mount Options" section)
+ quota_read: called by the VFS to read from filesystem quota file.
+ quota_write: called by the VFS to write to filesystem quota file.
+ nr_cached_objects: called by the sb cache shrinking function for the
+ filesystem to return the number of freeable cached objects it contains.
+ Optional.
+ free_cache_objects: called by the sb cache shrinking function for the
+ filesystem to scan the number of objects indicated to try to free them.
+ Optional, but any filesystem implementing this method needs to also
+ implement ->nr_cached_objects for it to be called correctly.
+ We can't do anything with any errors that the filesystem might
+ encountered, hence the void return type. This will never be called if
+ the VM is trying to reclaim under GFP_NOFS conditions, hence this
+ method does not need to handle that situation itself.
+ Implementations must include conditional reschedule calls inside any
+ scanning loop that is done. This allows the VFS to determine
+ appropriate scan batch sizes without having to worry about whether
+ implementations will cause holdoff problems due to large scan batch
+ sizes.
+Whoever sets up the inode is responsible for filling in the "i_op" field. This
+is a pointer to a "struct inode_operations" which describes the methods that
+can be performed on individual inodes.
+The Inode Object
+An inode object represents an object within the filesystem.
+struct inode_operations
+This describes how the VFS can manipulate an inode in your
+filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.22, the following members are defined:
+struct inode_operations {
+ int (*create) (struct inode *,struct dentry *, umode_t, bool);
+ struct dentry * (*lookup) (struct inode *,struct dentry *, unsigned int);
+ int (*link) (struct dentry *,struct inode *,struct dentry *);
+ int (*unlink) (struct inode *,struct dentry *);
+ int (*symlink) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,const char *);
+ int (*mkdir) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,umode_t);
+ int (*rmdir) (struct inode *,struct dentry *);
+ int (*mknod) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,umode_t,dev_t);
+ int (*rename) (struct inode *, struct dentry *,
+ struct inode *, struct dentry *);
+ int (*readlink) (struct dentry *, char __user *,int);
+ void * (*follow_link) (struct dentry *, struct nameidata *);
+ void (*put_link) (struct dentry *, struct nameidata *, void *);
+ int (*permission) (struct inode *, int);
+ int (*get_acl)(struct inode *, int);
+ int (*setattr) (struct dentry *, struct iattr *);
+ int (*getattr) (struct vfsmount *mnt, struct dentry *, struct kstat *);
+ int (*setxattr) (struct dentry *, const char *,const void *,size_t,int);
+ ssize_t (*getxattr) (struct dentry *, const char *, void *, size_t);
+ ssize_t (*listxattr) (struct dentry *, char *, size_t);
+ int (*removexattr) (struct dentry *, const char *);
+ void (*update_time)(struct inode *, struct timespec *, int);
+ int (*atomic_open)(struct inode *, struct dentry *,
+ struct file *, unsigned open_flag,
+ umode_t create_mode, int *opened);
+Again, all methods are called without any locks being held, unless
+otherwise noted.
+ create: called by the open(2) and creat(2) system calls. Only
+ required if you want to support regular files. The dentry you
+ get should not have an inode (i.e. it should be a negative
+ dentry). Here you will probably call d_instantiate() with the
+ dentry and the newly created inode
+ lookup: called when the VFS needs to look up an inode in a parent
+ directory. The name to look for is found in the dentry. This
+ method must call d_add() to insert the found inode into the
+ dentry. The "i_count" field in the inode structure should be
+ incremented. If the named inode does not exist a NULL inode
+ should be inserted into the dentry (this is called a negative
+ dentry). Returning an error code from this routine must only
+ be done on a real error, otherwise creating inodes with system
+ calls like create(2), mknod(2), mkdir(2) and so on will fail.
+ If you wish to overload the dentry methods then you should
+ initialise the "d_dop" field in the dentry; this is a pointer
+ to a struct "dentry_operations".
+ This method is called with the directory inode semaphore held
+ link: called by the link(2) system call. Only required if you want
+ to support hard links. You will probably need to call
+ d_instantiate() just as you would in the create() method
+ unlink: called by the unlink(2) system call. Only required if you
+ want to support deleting inodes
+ symlink: called by the symlink(2) system call. Only required if you
+ want to support symlinks. You will probably need to call
+ d_instantiate() just as you would in the create() method
+ mkdir: called by the mkdir(2) system call. Only required if you want
+ to support creating subdirectories. You will probably need to
+ call d_instantiate() just as you would in the create() method
+ rmdir: called by the rmdir(2) system call. Only required if you want
+ to support deleting subdirectories
+ mknod: called by the mknod(2) system call to create a device (char,
+ block) inode or a named pipe (FIFO) or socket. Only required
+ if you want to support creating these types of inodes. You
+ will probably need to call d_instantiate() just as you would
+ in the create() method
+ rename: called by the rename(2) system call to rename the object to
+ have the parent and name given by the second inode and dentry.
+ readlink: called by the readlink(2) system call. Only required if
+ you want to support reading symbolic links
+ follow_link: called by the VFS to follow a symbolic link to the
+ inode it points to. Only required if you want to support
+ symbolic links. This method returns a void pointer cookie
+ that is passed to put_link().
+ put_link: called by the VFS to release resources allocated by
+ follow_link(). The cookie returned by follow_link() is passed
+ to this method as the last parameter. It is used by
+ filesystems such as NFS where page cache is not stable
+ (i.e. page that was installed when the symbolic link walk
+ started might not be in the page cache at the end of the
+ walk).
+ permission: called by the VFS to check for access rights on a POSIX-like
+ filesystem.
+ May be called in rcu-walk mode (mask & MAY_NOT_BLOCK). If in rcu-walk
+ mode, the filesystem must check the permission without blocking or
+ storing to the inode.
+ If a situation is encountered that rcu-walk cannot handle, return
+ -ECHILD and it will be called again in ref-walk mode.
+ setattr: called by the VFS to set attributes for a file. This method
+ is called by chmod(2) and related system calls.
+ getattr: called by the VFS to get attributes of a file. This method
+ is called by stat(2) and related system calls.
+ setxattr: called by the VFS to set an extended attribute for a file.
+ Extended attribute is a name:value pair associated with an
+ inode. This method is called by setxattr(2) system call.
+ getxattr: called by the VFS to retrieve the value of an extended
+ attribute name. This method is called by getxattr(2) function
+ call.
+ listxattr: called by the VFS to list all extended attributes for a
+ given file. This method is called by listxattr(2) system call.
+ removexattr: called by the VFS to remove an extended attribute from
+ a file. This method is called by removexattr(2) system call.
+ update_time: called by the VFS to update a specific time or the i_version of
+ an inode. If this is not defined the VFS will update the inode itself
+ and call mark_inode_dirty_sync.
+ atomic_open: called on the last component of an open. Using this optional
+ method the filesystem can look up, possibly create and open the file in
+ one atomic operation. If it cannot perform this (e.g. the file type
+ turned out to be wrong) it may signal this by returning 1 instead of
+ usual 0 or -ve . This method is only called if the last
+ component is negative or needs lookup. Cached positive dentries are
+ still handled by f_op->open().
+The Address Space Object
+The address space object is used to group and manage pages in the page
+cache. It can be used to keep track of the pages in a file (or
+anything else) and also track the mapping of sections of the file into
+process address spaces.
+There are a number of distinct yet related services that an
+address-space can provide. These include communicating memory
+pressure, page lookup by address, and keeping track of pages tagged as
+Dirty or Writeback.
+The first can be used independently to the others. The VM can try to
+either write dirty pages in order to clean them, or release clean
+pages in order to reuse them. To do this it can call the ->writepage
+method on dirty pages, and ->releasepage on clean pages with
+PagePrivate set. Clean pages without PagePrivate and with no external
+references will be released without notice being given to the
+To achieve this functionality, pages need to be placed on an LRU with
+lru_cache_add and mark_page_active needs to be called whenever the
+page is used.
+Pages are normally kept in a radix tree index by ->index. This tree
+maintains information about the PG_Dirty and PG_Writeback status of
+each page, so that pages with either of these flags can be found
+The Dirty tag is primarily used by mpage_writepages - the default
+->writepages method. It uses the tag to find dirty pages to call
+->writepage on. If mpage_writepages is not used (i.e. the address
+provides its own ->writepages) , the PAGECACHE_TAG_DIRTY tag is
+almost unused. write_inode_now and sync_inode do use it (through
+__sync_single_inode) to check if ->writepages has been successful in
+writing out the whole address_space.
+The Writeback tag is used by filemap*wait* and sync_page* functions,
+via filemap_fdatawait_range, to wait for all writeback to
+complete. While waiting ->sync_page (if defined) will be called on
+each page that is found to require writeback.
+An address_space handler may attach extra information to a page,
+typically using the 'private' field in the 'struct page'. If such
+information is attached, the PG_Private flag should be set. This will
+cause various VM routines to make extra calls into the address_space
+handler to deal with that data.
+An address space acts as an intermediate between storage and
+application. Data is read into the address space a whole page at a
+time, and provided to the application either by copying of the page,
+or by memory-mapping the page.
+Data is written into the address space by the application, and then
+written-back to storage typically in whole pages, however the
+address_space has finer control of write sizes.
+The read process essentially only requires 'readpage'. The write
+process is more complicated and uses write_begin/write_end or
+set_page_dirty to write data into the address_space, and writepage,
+sync_page, and writepages to writeback data to storage.
+Adding and removing pages to/from an address_space is protected by the
+inode's i_mutex.
+When data is written to a page, the PG_Dirty flag should be set. It
+typically remains set until writepage asks for it to be written. This
+should clear PG_Dirty and set PG_Writeback. It can be actually
+written at any point after PG_Dirty is clear. Once it is known to be
+safe, PG_Writeback is cleared.
+Writeback makes use of a writeback_control structure...
+struct address_space_operations
+This describes how the VFS can manipulate mapping of a file to page cache in
+your filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.22, the following members are defined:
+struct address_space_operations {
+ int (*writepage)(struct page *page, struct writeback_control *wbc);
+ int (*readpage)(struct file *, struct page *);
+ int (*sync_page)(struct page *);
+ int (*writepages)(struct address_space *, struct writeback_control *);
+ int (*set_page_dirty)(struct page *page);
+ int (*readpages)(struct file *filp, struct address_space *mapping,
+ struct list_head *pages, unsigned nr_pages);
+ int (*write_begin)(struct file *, struct address_space *mapping,
+ loff_t pos, unsigned len, unsigned flags,
+ struct page **pagep, void **fsdata);
+ int (*write_end)(struct file *, struct address_space *mapping,
+ loff_t pos, unsigned len, unsigned copied,
+ struct page *page, void *fsdata);
+ sector_t (*bmap)(struct address_space *, sector_t);
+ int (*invalidatepage) (struct page *, unsigned long);
+ int (*releasepage) (struct page *, int);
+ void (*freepage)(struct page *);
+ ssize_t (*direct_IO)(int, struct kiocb *, const struct iovec *iov,
+ loff_t offset, unsigned long nr_segs);
+ struct page* (*get_xip_page)(struct address_space *, sector_t,
+ int);
+ /* migrate the contents of a page to the specified target */
+ int (*migratepage) (struct page *, struct page *);
+ int (*launder_page) (struct page *);
+ int (*error_remove_page) (struct mapping *mapping, struct page *page);
+ int (*swap_activate)(struct file *);
+ int (*swap_deactivate)(struct file *);
+ writepage: called by the VM to write a dirty page to backing store.
+ This may happen for data integrity reasons (i.e. 'sync'), or
+ to free up memory (flush). The difference can be seen in
+ wbc->sync_mode.
+ The PG_Dirty flag has been cleared and PageLocked is true.
+ writepage should start writeout, should set PG_Writeback,
+ and should make sure the page is unlocked, either synchronously
+ or asynchronously when the write operation completes.
+ If wbc->sync_mode is WB_SYNC_NONE, ->writepage doesn't have to
+ try too hard if there are problems, and may choose to write out
+ other pages from the mapping if that is easier (e.g. due to
+ internal dependencies). If it chooses not to start writeout, it
+ should return AOP_WRITEPAGE_ACTIVATE so that the VM will not keep
+ calling ->writepage on that page.
+ See the file "Locking" for more details.
+ readpage: called by the VM to read a page from backing store.
+ The page will be Locked when readpage is called, and should be
+ unlocked and marked uptodate once the read completes.
+ If ->readpage discovers that it needs to unlock the page for
+ some reason, it can do so, and then return AOP_TRUNCATED_PAGE.
+ In this case, the page will be relocated, relocked and if
+ that all succeeds, ->readpage will be called again.
+ sync_page: called by the VM to notify the backing store to perform all
+ queued I/O operations for a page. I/O operations for other pages
+ associated with this address_space object may also be performed.
+ This function is optional and is called only for pages with
+ PG_Writeback set while waiting for the writeback to complete.
+ writepages: called by the VM to write out pages associated with the
+ address_space object. If wbc->sync_mode is WBC_SYNC_ALL, then
+ the writeback_control will specify a range of pages that must be
+ written out. If it is WBC_SYNC_NONE, then a nr_to_write is given
+ and that many pages should be written if possible.
+ If no ->writepages is given, then mpage_writepages is used
+ instead. This will choose pages from the address space that are
+ tagged as DIRTY and will pass them to ->writepage.
+ set_page_dirty: called by the VM to set a page dirty.
+ This is particularly needed if an address space attaches
+ private data to a page, and that data needs to be updated when
+ a page is dirtied. This is called, for example, when a memory
+ mapped page gets modified.
+ If defined, it should set the PageDirty flag, and the
+ PAGECACHE_TAG_DIRTY tag in the radix tree.
+ readpages: called by the VM to read pages associated with the address_space
+ object. This is essentially just a vector version of
+ readpage. Instead of just one page, several pages are
+ requested.
+ readpages is only used for read-ahead, so read errors are
+ ignored. If anything goes wrong, feel free to give up.
+ write_begin:
+ Called by the generic buffered write code to ask the filesystem to
+ prepare to write len bytes at the given offset in the file. The
+ address_space should check that the write will be able to complete,
+ by allocating space if necessary and doing any other internal
+ housekeeping. If the write will update parts of any basic-blocks on
+ storage, then those blocks should be pre-read (if they haven't been
+ read already) so that the updated blocks can be written out properly.
+ The filesystem must return the locked pagecache page for the specified
+ offset, in *pagep, for the caller to write into.
+ It must be able to cope with short writes (where the length passed to
+ write_begin is greater than the number of bytes copied into the page).
+ flags is a field for AOP_FLAG_xxx flags, described in
+ include/linux/fs.h.
+ A void * may be returned in fsdata, which then gets passed into
+ write_end.
+ Returns 0 on success; < 0 on failure (which is the error code), in
+ which case write_end is not called.
+ write_end: After a successful write_begin, and data copy, write_end must
+ be called. len is the original len passed to write_begin, and copied
+ is the amount that was able to be copied (copied == len is always true
+ if write_begin was called with the AOP_FLAG_UNINTERRUPTIBLE flag).
+ The filesystem must take care of unlocking the page and releasing it
+ refcount, and updating i_size.
+ Returns < 0 on failure, otherwise the number of bytes (<= 'copied')
+ that were able to be copied into pagecache.
+ bmap: called by the VFS to map a logical block offset within object to
+ physical block number. This method is used by the FIBMAP
+ ioctl and for working with swap-files. To be able to swap to
+ a file, the file must have a stable mapping to a block
+ device. The swap system does not go through the filesystem
+ but instead uses bmap to find out where the blocks in the file
+ are and uses those addresses directly.
+ invalidatepage: If a page has PagePrivate set, then invalidatepage
+ will be called when part or all of the page is to be removed
+ from the address space. This generally corresponds to either a
+ truncation or a complete invalidation of the address space
+ (in the latter case 'offset' will always be 0).
+ Any private data associated with the page should be updated
+ to reflect this truncation. If offset is 0, then
+ the private data should be released, because the page
+ must be able to be completely discarded. This may be done by
+ calling the ->releasepage function, but in this case the
+ release MUST succeed.
+ releasepage: releasepage is called on PagePrivate pages to indicate
+ that the page should be freed if possible. ->releasepage
+ should remove any private data from the page and clear the
+ PagePrivate flag. If releasepage() fails for some reason, it must
+ indicate failure with a 0 return value.
+ releasepage() is used in two distinct though related cases. The
+ first is when the VM finds a clean page with no active users and
+ wants to make it a free page. If ->releasepage succeeds, the
+ page will be removed from the address_space and become free.
+ The second case is when a request has been made to invalidate
+ some or all pages in an address_space. This can happen
+ through the fadvice(POSIX_FADV_DONTNEED) system call or by the
+ filesystem explicitly requesting it as nfs and 9fs do (when
+ they believe the cache may be out of date with storage) by
+ calling invalidate_inode_pages2().
+ If the filesystem makes such a call, and needs to be certain
+ that all pages are invalidated, then its releasepage will
+ need to ensure this. Possibly it can clear the PageUptodate
+ bit if it cannot free private data yet.
+ freepage: freepage is called once the page is no longer visible in
+ the page cache in order to allow the cleanup of any private
+ data. Since it may be called by the memory reclaimer, it
+ should not assume that the original address_space mapping still
+ exists, and it should not block.
+ direct_IO: called by the generic read/write routines to perform
+ direct_IO - that is IO requests which bypass the page cache
+ and transfer data directly between the storage and the
+ application's address space.
+ get_xip_page: called by the VM to translate a block number to a page.
+ The page is valid until the corresponding filesystem is unmounted.
+ Filesystems that want to use execute-in-place (XIP) need to implement
+ it. An example implementation can be found in fs/ext2/xip.c.
+ migrate_page: This is used to compact the physical memory usage.
+ If the VM wants to relocate a page (maybe off a memory card
+ that is signalling imminent failure) it will pass a new page
+ and an old page to this function. migrate_page should
+ transfer any private data across and update any references
+ that it has to the page.
+ launder_page: Called before freeing a page - it writes back the dirty page. To
+ prevent redirtying the page, it is kept locked during the whole
+ operation.
+ error_remove_page: normally set to generic_error_remove_page if truncation
+ is ok for this address space. Used for memory failure handling.
+ Setting this implies you deal with pages going away under you,
+ unless you have them locked or reference counts increased.
+ swap_activate: Called when swapon is used on a file to allocate
+ space if necessary and pin the block lookup information in
+ memory. A return value of zero indicates success,
+ in which case this file can be used to back swapspace. The
+ swapspace operations will be proxied to this address space's
+ ->swap_{out,in} methods.
+ swap_deactivate: Called during swapoff on files where swap_activate
+ was successful.
+The File Object
+A file object represents a file opened by a process.
+struct file_operations
+This describes how the VFS can manipulate an open file. As of kernel
+3.5, the following members are defined:
+struct file_operations {
+ struct module *owner;
+ loff_t (*llseek) (struct file *, loff_t, int);
+ ssize_t (*read) (struct file *, char __user *, size_t, loff_t *);
+ ssize_t (*write) (struct file *, const char __user *, size_t, loff_t *);
+ ssize_t (*aio_read) (struct kiocb *, const struct iovec *, unsigned long, loff_t);
+ ssize_t (*aio_write) (struct kiocb *, const struct iovec *, unsigned long, loff_t);
+ int (*readdir) (struct file *, void *, filldir_t);
+ unsigned int (*poll) (struct file *, struct poll_table_struct *);
+ long (*unlocked_ioctl) (struct file *, unsigned int, unsigned long);
+ long (*compat_ioctl) (struct file *, unsigned int, unsigned long);
+ int (*mmap) (struct file *, struct vm_area_struct *);
+ int (*open) (struct inode *, struct file *);
+ int (*flush) (struct file *);
+ int (*release) (struct inode *, struct file *);
+ int (*fsync) (struct file *, loff_t, loff_t, int datasync);
+ int (*aio_fsync) (struct kiocb *, int datasync);
+ int (*fasync) (int, struct file *, int);
+ int (*lock) (struct file *, int, struct file_lock *);
+ ssize_t (*readv) (struct file *, const struct iovec *, unsigned long, loff_t *);
+ ssize_t (*writev) (struct file *, const struct iovec *, unsigned long, loff_t *);
+ ssize_t (*sendfile) (struct file *, loff_t *, size_t, read_actor_t, void *);
+ ssize_t (*sendpage) (struct file *, struct page *, int, size_t, loff_t *, int);
+ unsigned long (*get_unmapped_area)(struct file *, unsigned long, unsigned long, unsigned long, unsigned long);
+ int (*check_flags)(int);
+ int (*flock) (struct file *, int, struct file_lock *);
+ ssize_t (*splice_write)(struct pipe_inode_info *, struct file *, size_t, unsigned int);
+ ssize_t (*splice_read)(struct file *, struct pipe_inode_info *, size_t, unsigned int);
+ int (*setlease)(struct file *, long arg, struct file_lock **);
+ long (*fallocate)(struct file *, int mode, loff_t offset, loff_t len);
+Again, all methods are called without any locks being held, unless
+otherwise noted.
+ llseek: called when the VFS needs to move the file position index
+ read: called by read(2) and related system calls
+ aio_read: called by io_submit(2) and other asynchronous I/O operations
+ write: called by write(2) and related system calls
+ aio_write: called by io_submit(2) and other asynchronous I/O operations
+ readdir: called when the VFS needs to read the directory contents
+ poll: called by the VFS when a process wants to check if there is
+ activity on this file and (optionally) go to sleep until there
+ is activity. Called by the select(2) and poll(2) system calls
+ unlocked_ioctl: called by the ioctl(2) system call.
+ compat_ioctl: called by the ioctl(2) system call when 32 bit system calls
+ are used on 64 bit kernels.
+ mmap: called by the mmap(2) system call
+ open: called by the VFS when an inode should be opened. When the VFS
+ opens a file, it creates a new "struct file". It then calls the
+ open method for the newly allocated file structure. You might
+ think that the open method really belongs in
+ "struct inode_operations", and you may be right. I think it's
+ done the way it is because it makes filesystems simpler to
+ implement. The open() method is a good place to initialize the
+ "private_data" member in the file structure if you want to point
+ to a device structure
+ flush: called by the close(2) system call to flush a file
+ release: called when the last reference to an open file is closed
+ fsync: called by the fsync(2) system call
+ fasync: called by the fcntl(2) system call when asynchronous
+ (non-blocking) mode is enabled for a file
+ lock: called by the fcntl(2) system call for F_GETLK, F_SETLK, and F_SETLKW
+ commands
+ readv: called by the readv(2) system call
+ writev: called by the writev(2) system call
+ sendfile: called by the sendfile(2) system call
+ get_unmapped_area: called by the mmap(2) system call
+ check_flags: called by the fcntl(2) system call for F_SETFL command
+ flock: called by the flock(2) system call
+ splice_write: called by the VFS to splice data from a pipe to a file. This
+ method is used by the splice(2) system call
+ splice_read: called by the VFS to splice data from file to a pipe. This
+ method is used by the splice(2) system call
+ setlease: called by the VFS to set or release a file lock lease.
+ setlease has the file_lock_lock held and must not sleep.
+ fallocate: called by the VFS to preallocate blocks or punch a hole.
+Note that the file operations are implemented by the specific
+filesystem in which the inode resides. When opening a device node
+(character or block special) most filesystems will call special
+support routines in the VFS which will locate the required device
+driver information. These support routines replace the filesystem file
+operations with those for the device driver, and then proceed to call
+the new open() method for the file. This is how opening a device file
+in the filesystem eventually ends up calling the device driver open()
+Directory Entry Cache (dcache)
+struct dentry_operations
+This describes how a filesystem can overload the standard dentry
+operations. Dentries and the dcache are the domain of the VFS and the
+individual filesystem implementations. Device drivers have no business
+here. These methods may be set to NULL, as they are either optional or
+the VFS uses a default. As of kernel 2.6.22, the following members are
+struct dentry_operations {
+ int (*d_revalidate)(struct dentry *, unsigned int);
+ int (*d_weak_revalidate)(struct dentry *, unsigned int);
+ int (*d_hash)(const struct dentry *, const struct inode *,
+ struct qstr *);
+ int (*d_compare)(const struct dentry *, const struct inode *,
+ const struct dentry *, const struct inode *,
+ unsigned int, const char *, const struct qstr *);
+ int (*d_delete)(const struct dentry *);
+ void (*d_release)(struct dentry *);
+ void (*d_iput)(struct dentry *, struct inode *);
+ char *(*d_dname)(struct dentry *, char *, int);
+ struct vfsmount *(*d_automount)(struct path *);
+ int (*d_manage)(struct dentry *, bool);
+ d_revalidate: called when the VFS needs to revalidate a dentry. This
+ is called whenever a name look-up finds a dentry in the
+ dcache. Most local filesystems leave this as NULL, because all their
+ dentries in the dcache are valid. Network filesystems are different
+ since things can change on the server without the client necessarily
+ being aware of it.
+ This function should return a positive value if the dentry is still
+ valid, and zero or a negative error code if it isn't.
+ d_revalidate may be called in rcu-walk mode (flags & LOOKUP_RCU).
+ If in rcu-walk mode, the filesystem must revalidate the dentry without
+ blocking or storing to the dentry, d_parent and d_inode should not be
+ used without care (because they can change and, in d_inode case, even
+ become NULL under us).
+ If a situation is encountered that rcu-walk cannot handle, return
+ -ECHILD and it will be called again in ref-walk mode.
+ d_weak_revalidate: called when the VFS needs to revalidate a "jumped" dentry.
+ This is called when a path-walk ends at dentry that was not acquired by
+ doing a lookup in the parent directory. This includes "/", "." and "..",
+ as well as procfs-style symlinks and mountpoint traversal.
+ In this case, we are less concerned with whether the dentry is still
+ fully correct, but rather that the inode is still valid. As with
+ d_revalidate, most local filesystems will set this to NULL since their
+ dcache entries are always valid.
+ This function has the same return code semantics as d_revalidate.
+ d_weak_revalidate is only called after leaving rcu-walk mode.
+ d_hash: called when the VFS adds a dentry to the hash table. The first
+ dentry passed to d_hash is the parent directory that the name is
+ to be hashed into. The inode is the dentry's inode.
+ Same locking and synchronisation rules as d_compare regarding
+ what is safe to dereference etc.
+ d_compare: called to compare a dentry name with a given name. The first
+ dentry is the parent of the dentry to be compared, the second is
+ the parent's inode, then the dentry and inode (may be NULL) of the
+ child dentry. len and name string are properties of the dentry to be
+ compared. qstr is the name to compare it with.
+ Must be constant and idempotent, and should not take locks if
+ possible, and should not or store into the dentry or inodes.
+ Should not dereference pointers outside the dentry or inodes without
+ lots of care (eg. d_parent, d_inode, d_name should not be used).
+ However, our vfsmount is pinned, and RCU held, so the dentries and
+ inodes won't disappear, neither will our sb or filesystem module.
+ ->i_sb and ->d_sb may be used.
+ It is a tricky calling convention because it needs to be called under
+ "rcu-walk", ie. without any locks or references on things.
+ d_delete: called when the last reference to a dentry is dropped and the
+ dcache is deciding whether or not to cache it. Return 1 to delete
+ immediately, or 0 to cache the dentry. Default is NULL which means to
+ always cache a reachable dentry. d_delete must be constant and
+ idempotent.
+ d_release: called when a dentry is really deallocated
+ d_iput: called when a dentry loses its inode (just prior to its
+ being deallocated). The default when this is NULL is that the
+ VFS calls iput(). If you define this method, you must call
+ iput() yourself
+ d_dname: called when the pathname of a dentry should be generated.
+ Useful for some pseudo filesystems (sockfs, pipefs, ...) to delay
+ pathname generation. (Instead of doing it when dentry is created,
+ it's done only when the path is needed.). Real filesystems probably
+ dont want to use it, because their dentries are present in global
+ dcache hash, so their hash should be an invariant. As no lock is
+ held, d_dname() should not try to modify the dentry itself, unless
+ appropriate SMP safety is used. CAUTION : d_path() logic is quite
+ tricky. The correct way to return for example "Hello" is to put it
+ at the end of the buffer, and returns a pointer to the first char.
+ dynamic_dname() helper function is provided to take care of this.
+ d_automount: called when an automount dentry is to be traversed (optional).
+ This should create a new VFS mount record and return the record to the
+ caller. The caller is supplied with a path parameter giving the
+ automount directory to describe the automount target and the parent
+ VFS mount record to provide inheritable mount parameters. NULL should
+ be returned if someone else managed to make the automount first. If
+ the vfsmount creation failed, then an error code should be returned.
+ If -EISDIR is returned, then the directory will be treated as an
+ ordinary directory and returned to pathwalk to continue walking.
+ If a vfsmount is returned, the caller will attempt to mount it on the
+ mountpoint and will remove the vfsmount from its expiration list in
+ the case of failure. The vfsmount should be returned with 2 refs on
+ it to prevent automatic expiration - the caller will clean up the
+ additional ref.
+ This function is only used if DCACHE_NEED_AUTOMOUNT is set on the
+ dentry. This is set by __d_instantiate() if S_AUTOMOUNT is set on the
+ inode being added.
+ d_manage: called to allow the filesystem to manage the transition from a
+ dentry (optional). This allows autofs, for example, to hold up clients
+ waiting to explore behind a 'mountpoint' whilst letting the daemon go
+ past and construct the subtree there. 0 should be returned to let the
+ calling process continue. -EISDIR can be returned to tell pathwalk to
+ use this directory as an ordinary directory and to ignore anything
+ mounted on it and not to check the automount flag. Any other error
+ code will abort pathwalk completely.
+ If the 'rcu_walk' parameter is true, then the caller is doing a
+ pathwalk in RCU-walk mode. Sleeping is not permitted in this mode,
+ and the caller can be asked to leave it and call again by returning
+ This function is only used if DCACHE_MANAGE_TRANSIT is set on the
+ dentry being transited from.
+Example :
+static char *pipefs_dname(struct dentry *dent, char *buffer, int buflen)
+ return dynamic_dname(dentry, buffer, buflen, "pipe:[%lu]",
+ dentry->d_inode->i_ino);
+Each dentry has a pointer to its parent dentry, as well as a hash list
+of child dentries. Child dentries are basically like files in a
+Directory Entry Cache API
+There are a number of functions defined which permit a filesystem to
+manipulate dentries:
+ dget: open a new handle for an existing dentry (this just increments
+ the usage count)
+ dput: close a handle for a dentry (decrements the usage count). If
+ the usage count drops to 0, and the dentry is still in its
+ parent's hash, the "d_delete" method is called to check whether
+ it should be cached. If it should not be cached, or if the dentry
+ is not hashed, it is deleted. Otherwise cached dentries are put
+ into an LRU list to be reclaimed on memory shortage.
+ d_drop: this unhashes a dentry from its parents hash list. A
+ subsequent call to dput() will deallocate the dentry if its
+ usage count drops to 0
+ d_delete: delete a dentry. If there are no other open references to
+ the dentry then the dentry is turned into a negative dentry
+ (the d_iput() method is called). If there are other
+ references, then d_drop() is called instead
+ d_add: add a dentry to its parents hash list and then calls
+ d_instantiate()
+ d_instantiate: add a dentry to the alias hash list for the inode and
+ updates the "d_inode" member. The "i_count" member in the
+ inode structure should be set/incremented. If the inode
+ pointer is NULL, the dentry is called a "negative
+ dentry". This function is commonly called when an inode is
+ created for an existing negative dentry
+ d_lookup: look up a dentry given its parent and path name component
+ It looks up the child of that given name from the dcache
+ hash table. If it is found, the reference count is incremented
+ and the dentry is returned. The caller must use dput()
+ to free the dentry when it finishes using it.
+Mount Options
+Parsing options
+On mount and remount the filesystem is passed a string containing a
+comma separated list of mount options. The options can have either of
+these forms:
+ option
+ option=value
+The <linux/parser.h> header defines an API that helps parse these
+options. There are plenty of examples on how to use it in existing
+Showing options
+If a filesystem accepts mount options, it must define show_options()
+to show all the currently active options. The rules are:
+ - options MUST be shown which are not default or their values differ
+ from the default
+ - options MAY be shown which are enabled by default or have their
+ default value
+Options used only internally between a mount helper and the kernel
+(such as file descriptors), or which only have an effect during the
+mounting (such as ones controlling the creation of a journal) are exempt
+from the above rules.
+The underlying reason for the above rules is to make sure, that a
+mount can be accurately replicated (e.g. umounting and mounting again)
+based on the information found in /proc/mounts.
+A simple method of saving options at mount/remount time and showing
+them is provided with the save_mount_options() and
+generic_show_options() helper functions. Please note, that using
+these may have drawbacks. For more info see header comments for these
+functions in fs/namespace.c.
+(Note some of these resources are not up-to-date with the latest kernel
+ version.)
+Creating Linux virtual filesystems. 2002
+ <http://lwn.net/Articles/13325/>
+The Linux Virtual File-system Layer by Neil Brown. 1999
+ <http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~neilb/oss/linux-commentary/vfs.html>
+A tour of the Linux VFS by Michael K. Johnson. 1996
+ <http://www.tldp.org/LDP/khg/HyperNews/get/fs/vfstour.html>
+A small trail through the Linux kernel by Andries Brouwer. 2001
+ <http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/vfs/trail.html>