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SubjectRe: [PATCH 00/11] fs/dcache: Limit # of negative dentries
On Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 02:19:59PM -0500, Waiman Long wrote:
> On 2/26/20 11:29 AM, Matthew Wilcox wrote:
> > On Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 11:13:53AM -0500, Waiman Long wrote:
> >> A new sysctl parameter "dentry-dir-max" is introduced which accepts a
> >> value of 0 (default) for no limit or a positive integer 256 and up. Small
> >> dentry-dir-max numbers are forbidden to avoid excessive dentry count
> >> checking which can impact system performance.
> > This is always the wrong approach. A sysctl is just a way of blaming
> > the sysadmin for us not being very good at programming.
> >
> > I agree that we need a way to limit the number of negative dentries.
> > But that limit needs to be dynamic and depend on how the system is being
> > used, not on how some overworked sysadmin has configured it.
> >
> > So we need an initial estimate for the number of negative dentries that
> > we need for good performance. Maybe it's 1000. It doesn't really matter;
> > it's going to change dynamically.
> >
> > Then we need a metric to let us know whether it needs to be increased.
> > Perhaps that's "number of new negative dentries created in the last
> > second". And we need to decide how much to increase it; maybe it's by
> > 50% or maybe by 10%. Perhaps somewhere between 10-100% depending on
> > how high the recent rate of negative dentry creation has been.
> >
> > We also need a metric to let us know whether it needs to be decreased.
> > I'm reluctant to say that memory pressure should be that metric because
> > very large systems can let the number of dentries grow in an unbounded
> > way. Perhaps that metric is "number of hits in the negative dentry
> > cache in the last ten seconds". Again, we'll need to decide how much
> > to shrink the target number by.
> >
> > If the number of negative dentries is at or above the target, then
> > creating a new negative dentry means evicting an existing negative dentry.
> > If the number of negative dentries is lower than the target, then we
> > can just create a new one.
> >
> > Of course, memory pressure (and shrinking the target number) should
> > cause negative dentries to be evicted from the old end of the LRU list.
> > But memory pressure shouldn't cause us to change the target number;
> > the target number is what we think we need to keep the system running
> > smoothly.
> >
> Thanks for the quick response.
> I agree that auto-tuning so that the system administrator don't have to
> worry about it will be the best approach if it is implemented in the
> right way. However, it is hard to do it right.
> How about letting users specify a cap on the amount of total system
> memory allowed for negative dentries like one of my previous patchs.
> Internally, there is a predefined minimum and maximum for
> dentry-dir-max. We sample the total negative dentry counts periodically
> and adjust the dentry-dir-max accordingly.
> Specifying a percentage of total system memory is more intuitive than
> just specifying a hard number for dentry-dir-max. Still some user input
> is required.

If you want to base the whole thing on a per-directory target number,
or a percentage of the system memory target (rather than my suggestion
of a total # of negative dentries), that seems reasonable. What's not
reasonable is expecting the sysadmin to be able to either predict the
workload, or react to a changing workload in sufficient time. The system
has to be self-tuning.

Just look how long stale information stays around about how to tune your
Linux system. Here's an article from 2018 suggesting using the 'intr'
option for NFS mounts:
I made that a no-op in 2007. Any tunable you add to Linux immediately
becomes a cargo-cult solution to any problem people are having.

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