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SubjectRe: [PATCH] printk: Avoid softlockups in console_unlock()
On Thu, 17 Jan 2013 22:04:42 +0100
Jan Kara <> wrote:

> ...
> So I played a bit with this. To make things easier for me I added
> artificial mdelay(len*10) (effectively simulating console able to print 100
> characters per second) just after call_console_drivers() so that I can
> trigger issues even on a machine easily available to me. Booting actually
> doesn't trigger any problems because there aren't enough things happening
> in parallel on common machine during boot but
> echo t >/proc/sysrq-trigger &
> for i in /lib/modules/3.8.0-rc3-0-default/kernel/fs/*/*.ko; do
> name=`basename $i`; name=${name%.ko}; modprobe $name
> done
> easily triggers the problem (as modprobe uses both RCU & IPIs to signal all
> CPUs).
> Adding
> touch_nmi_watchdog();
> touch_all_softlockup_watchdogs();
> rcu_cpu_stall_reset();

I'm not sure that touch_all_softlockup_watchdogs() is needed?
touch_nmi_watchdog() itself calls touch_softlockup_watchdog().

If the rcu_cpu_stall_reset() is needed here then presumably it is
needed elsewhere and we should put a call to rcu_cpu_stall_reset() into
(the increasingly misnamed) touch_nmi_watchdog().

> into the printk loop did stop all the warnings and the machine eventually
> came alive again after finishing printing sysrq-t output (while printing
> the machine was responding to ping but ssh stopped working after a while -
> not sure what was happening but apparently some IO requests weren't
> completing and maybe networking started dropping packets because it
> accumulated too much RCU work).
> So your suggestion seems certainly plausible. I was just wondering
> a) Above three lines can be pretty expensive on big machines as they
> iterate over all CPUs. So we should probably limit it to once per jiffy or
> something like that?

I guess so - is it hard to test the effects of such a change? Maybe do
a few MB of printks with the output disabled with `dmesg -n' and see
what effect such a patch has?

If it does need ratelimiting, I'd worry about using jiffies for that.
If the kernel is spending a long time with interrupts disabled, jiffies
might not be incrementing. Using the CPU timestamp would be better
(eg, sched_clock()).

> b) Above three lines can make softlockup detection pretty useless if
> there's enough printk traffic (it would be enough to printk() something
> every 10s or so which can happen with netfilter logging packets or so).

Yes, that is a concern.

> But if we touch the watchdogs only if we spend more than 1 jiffy in the
> console_unlock() we should hopefully touch those watchdogs only in rare
> cases of heavy printk traffic.

yup. Another option might be to do the touch_nmi_watchdog() only if
there is a "large" amount of data being emitted within
console_unlock(). Like your 1000 character threshold.

> PS: sysrq-t was ~200 KB on that freshly booted machine so on a busy machine
> that would trigger softlockups with 115200 serial console as well (I
> actually do remember seeing it in some customer's reports). So it's not
> just boot.

Yes, we have hit this before. Large printks over slow console devices.
See the sad little touch_nmi_watchdog() in lib/show_mem.c, for
example. I actually thought we'd fixed this in printk itself but it
seems not - the two touch_nmi_watchdog()s in there are for special

Actually, a bit of grepping for touch_nmi_watchdog() is interesting. A
number of serial drivers are doing it, which makes me wonder why your
customers weren't saved by that - using the wrong driver, perhaps? If
we can get this fixed centrally then a lot of those calls should be

The presence of all those touch_nmi_watchdog() calls around the place
has implications for the testing of your patch, btw ;)

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