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Kelley Nielsen

Email: <kelleynnn AT SPAMFREE gmail DOT com>

I am a kernel intern through the Gnome Outreach Program for Women. RikvanRiel is my mentor. My project is to rid the swapoff code of the quadratic complexity in try_to_unuse().

This page will eventually become a proper home page, but until I learn enough about wiki editing to write proper articles, I will be using this as a scratch area for my thoughts, questions, and article stubs and drafts.

My Articles

Lesser important ones:

My Current Working State

Rik has asked me, "can you find out, and describe to me, how the location of a certain place in swap is stored in the memory management data structures for a process? and what the two parts of the swap information describe?

  • Action: study struct page and friends in include/linux/mm_types.h

  • Question: what is (are) the top level struct(s) for memory management? (A: struct mm_struct) What functions and structs hold them?

  • Question: The first double word block of a struct page holds a union (implying only one member is used at a time) of a pointer to a struct address_space, and a pointer to void intended for a slab object. I know that most memory comes from the buddy allocator, but the kernel has the slab allocator for small needs of its own. So, is the struct address_space associated with the buddy allocator? Question: are the page allocator and the buddy allocator the same thing? i.e. "page" describes what it does, and "buddy" describes how it works?

  • Action: study handle_mm_fault() found at: memory.c:3783:int handle_mm_fault(struct mm_struct *mm, ...

  • Action: study the places where init_mm is used

  • Question: What’s a struct vm_operations_struct? Is it analogous to a struct address_space_operations? mm.h line 210

  • Question: Are the functions pointed to by the members of struct address_space_operations in fs.h (line 347) what I think they are--operations to transition a page between the states described in fig. 2 on this page http://www.redhat.com/magazine/001nov04/features/vm/ ?

Dec. 10: What I’ve learned:

There is often no way to know which task is using a certain page. It’s not important.

One of the main data structures that I need to understand, both in terms of how it works and how it is used, is struct mm_struct. There is a list of them (the struct holds a struct list_head), and they can be swapped. The short file init_mm.c instantiates the list handle, called init_mm. This structure seems to be the principal structure representing an access into the swap area.

A struct mm_struct holds a list of struct vm_area_structs. (note: although the struct vm_area_struct contains a struct list_head, it also contains pointers to prev and next, which are declared before the struct list_head and may be more important). These are chunks of some type of memory.

Then, there is a struct page, defined in the same file as the struct mm_struct. These are also kept in a list (i.e. a struct page holds a struct list_head) (I don’t yet know where the handle is). A struct page holds (either) a struct address_space (or a slab object); not exactly sure what this does yet, but defined in the same file (fs.h) there is a struct address_space_operations. All the members of this struct are function pointers that seem to govern transitions between the states listed in fig. 2 here: http://www.redhat.com/magazine/001nov04/features/vm/

Dec. 11: What I’ve learned:

  • Page table types are architecture specific, and are defined in files such as pgtable.h, pgtable_types.h, and page.h under arch/*/include/asm.

  • Confirmed that struct mm_struct is the top level memory management structure for a process, and struct vm_area_structs are the chunks of virtual memory that are available to that process. (I still haven't answered Rik's question because VM is not swap)

  • Control groups (cgroups) are for resource management. cgroup related data members can be ignored for now.

  • A pte_t (page table entry type) apparently contains a reference to a struct page (still looking for a definition of pte_t to verify), or at least has one associated with it. vm_normal_page() from memory.c line 742 returns a page table entry's associated struct page. On Dec. 12 My mentor comments: a pte_t can have a struct page associated with it, but doesn't necessarily. If a pte doesn't indicate that it maps memory, which it does by having its present bit set, vm_normal_page() doesn't get called on it. Also, some types of memory, such as device memory, don't have a struct page associated with them, and the pte could be mapping that. I took another look at vm_normal_page() and it does indeed check for those situations.

My current questions & things I want to learn:

  • what the radix tree is, and how it works, assuming it's important (I suspect it may be very important)

  • what functions call add_to_swap()

  • what exactly is the relationship between the swap cache, the swap area, and the (active, real, main, whatever) memory pages


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last edited 2013-12-30 18:45:55 by KelleyNielsen