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SubjectRe: [PATCH] vfs: keep inodes with page cache off the inode shrinker LRU
On Tue, 11 Feb 2020 14:31:01 -0500 Johannes Weiner <> wrote:

> On Tue, Feb 11, 2020 at 02:05:38PM -0500, Rik van Riel wrote:
> > On Tue, 2020-02-11 at 12:55 -0500, Johannes Weiner wrote:
> > > The VFS inode shrinker is currently allowed to reclaim inodes with
> > > populated page cache. As a result it can drop gigabytes of hot and
> > > active page cache on the floor without consulting the VM (recorded as
> > > "inodesteal" events in /proc/vmstat).
> > >
> > > This causes real problems in practice. Consider for example how the
> > > VM
> > > would cache a source tree, such as the Linux git tree. As large parts
> > > of the checked out files and the object database are accessed
> > > repeatedly, the page cache holding this data gets moved to the active
> > > list, where it's fully (and indefinitely) insulated from one-off
> > > cache
> > > moving through the inactive list.
> >
> > > This behavior of invalidating page cache from the inode shrinker goes
> > > back to even before the git import of the kernel tree. It may have
> > > been less noticeable when the VM itself didn't have real workingset
> > > protection, and floods of one-off cache would push out any active
> > > cache over time anyway. But the VM has come a long way since then and
> > > the inode shrinker is now actively subverting its caching strategy.
> >
> > Two things come to mind when looking at this:
> > - highmem
> > - NUMA
> >
> > IIRC one of the reasons reclaim is done in this way is
> > because a page cache page in one area of memory (highmem,
> > or a NUMA node) can end up pinning inode slab memory in
> > another memory area (normal zone, other NUMA node).
> That's a good point, highmem does ring a bell now that you mention it.

Yup, that's why this mechanism exists. Here:

> If we still care, I think this could be solved by doing something
> similar to what we do with buffer_heads_over_limit: allow a lowmem
> allocation to reclaim page cache inside the highmem zone if the bhs
> (or inodes in this case) have accumulated excessively.

Well, reclaiming highmem pagecache at random would be a painful way to
reclaim lowmem inodes. Better to pick an inode then shoot down all its
pagecache. Perhaps we could take its pagecache's aging into account.

Testing this will be a challenge, but the issue was real - a 7GB
highmem machine isn't crazy and I expect the inode has become larger
since those days.

> AFAICS, we haven't done anything similar for NUMA, so it might not be
> much of a problem there. I could imagine this is in part because NUMA
> nodes tend to be more balanced in size, and the ratio between cache
> memory and inode/bh memory means that these objects won't turn into a
> significant externality. Whereas with extreme highmem:lowmem ratios,
> they can.

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