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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.
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?
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?
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:
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:
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)
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.