[linux-dvb] [PATCH] dvb-core: Fix several locking related problems.

Johannes Stezenbach js at linuxtv.org
Tue Mar 6 00:01:20 CET 2007

On Mon, Mar 05, 2007 at 06:19:01PM +0100, Oliver Endriss wrote:
> From 'Linux Device Drivers' (replace 'down' by 'mutex_lock'):
> | ...
> | down decrements the value of the semaphore and waits as long as need
> | be. down_ interruptible does the same, but the operation is
> | interruptible. The interruptible version is almost always the one you
> | will want; it allows a user-space process that is waiting on a
> | semaphore to be interrupted by the user. You do not, as a general
>                                            ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> | rule, want to use noninterruptible operations unless there truly is no
>   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> | alternative. Noninterruptible operations are a good way to create
>   ^^^^^^^^^^^
> | unkillable processes (the dreaded  D state  seen in ps), and annoy
> | your users. Using down_interruptible requires some extra care,
> | however, if the operation is interrupted, the function returns a
> | nonzero value, and the caller does not hold the semaphore. Proper use
> | of down_interruptible requires always checking the return value and
> | responding accordingly.            
> | ...

I don't think this advice applies to mutexes (at least if the
mutexes are used in the usual way to protect some common data).

For event semaphores, you block waiting for an event, and if
the event doesn't happen (maybe you wait for an irq), you need
a way out or you're screwed. So using down_interruptible()
is what you want.

Mutexes, however, are supposed to be held only while manipulating
some shared data. So the code looks *always* like this:


Now if some process sleeps uninterruptibly in mutex_lock(),
some other process holds the mutex and sleeps in do_something().
If it wedges up, you either have some locking bug
(someone forgot a mutex_unlock()), or it wedged up in
do_something(), and you got to fix *that*.

mutex_unlock_interruptible() would only help to paper over
locking bugs, and its use in dvb-core comes from a straight
conversion from down_interruptible(), which itself was used
because it was once useful during development. How that the
signal handling was found to be buggy I think it's much better
to use mutex_lock() instead of fixing the mutex_unlock_interruptible()

BTW, some statistics:

linux-2.6.20$ grep -r '\<mutex_lock\>' . | wc -l
linux-2.6.20$ grep -r '\<mutex_lock_interruptible\>' . | wc -l


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