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SubjectRe: KCSAN: data-race in __alloc_file / __alloc_file
On Sun, Nov 10, 2019 at 11:12 AM Linus Torvalds
<torvalds@linux-foundation.org> wrote:
>
> And this is where WRITE_IDEMPOTENT would make a possible difference.
> In particular, if we make the optimization to do the "read and only
> write if changed"

It might be useful for checking too. IOW, something like KCSAN could
actually check that if a field has an idempotent write to it, all
writes always have the same value.

Again, there's the issue with lifetime.

Part of that is "initialization is different". Those writes would not
be marked idempotent, of course, and they'd write another value.

There's also the issue of lifetime at the _end_ of the use, of course.
There _are_ interesting data races at the end of the lifetime, both
reads and writes.

In particular, if it's a sticky flag, in order for there to not be any
races, all the writes have to happen with a refcount held, and the
final read has to happen after the final refcount is dropped (and the
refcounts have to have atomicity and ordering, of course). I'm not
sure how easy something like that is model in KSAN. Maybe it already
does things like that for all the other refcount stuff we do.

But the lifetime can be problematic for other reasons too - in this
particular case we have a union for that sticky flag (which is used
under the refcount), and then when the final refcount is released we
read that value (thus no data race) but because of the union we will
now start using that field with *different* data. It becomes that RCU
list head instead.

That kind of "it used to be a sticky flag, but now the lifetime of the
flag is over, and it's something entirely different" might be a
nightmare for something like KCSAN. It sounds complicated to check
for, but I have no idea what KCSAN really considers complicated or
not.

Linus

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