[PATCH 7/8] mm: clear PG_dirty to mark page freeable

From: Minchan Kim
Date: Fri Oct 30 2015 - 03:02:22 EST

Basically, MADV_FREE relies on dirty bit in page table entry to decide
whether VM allows to discard the page or not. IOW, if page table entry
includes marked dirty bit, VM shouldn't discard the page.

However, as a example, if swap-in by read fault happens, page table entry
doesn't have dirty bit so MADV_FREE could discard the page wrongly.

For avoiding the problem, MADV_FREE did more checks with PageDirty
and PageSwapCache. It worked out because swapped-in page lives on
swap cache and since it is evicted from the swap cache, the page has
PG_dirty flag. So both page flags check effectively prevent
wrong discarding by MADV_FREE.

However, a problem in above logic is that swapped-in page has
PG_dirty still after they are removed from swap cache so VM cannot
consider the page as freeable any more even if madvise_free is
called in future.

Look at below example for detail.

ptr = malloc();
.. heavy memory pressure so all of pages are swapped out
var = *ptr; -> a page swapped-in and could be removed from
swapcache. Then, page table doesn't mark
dirty bit and page descriptor includes PG_dirty
madvise_free(ptr); -> It doesn't clear PG_dirty of the page.
.. heavy memory pressure again.
.. In this time, VM cannot discard the page because the page
.. has *PG_dirty*

To solve the problem, this patch clears PG_dirty if only the page is owned
exclusively by current process when madvise is called because PG_dirty
represents ptes's dirtiness in several processes so we could clear it only
if we own it exclusively.

Acked-by: Hugh Dickins <hughd@xxxxxxxxxx>
Signed-off-by: Minchan Kim <minchan@xxxxxxxxxx>
mm/madvise.c | 12 ++++++++++--
1 file changed, 10 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

diff --git a/mm/madvise.c b/mm/madvise.c
index 9ee9df8c768d..fc24104d6b3a 100644
--- a/mm/madvise.c
+++ b/mm/madvise.c
@@ -303,11 +303,19 @@ static int madvise_free_pte_range(pmd_t *pmd, unsigned long addr,
if (!page)

- if (PageSwapCache(page)) {
+ if (PageSwapCache(page) || PageDirty(page)) {
if (!trylock_page(page))
+ /*
+ * If page is shared with others, we couldn't clear
+ * PG_dirty of the page.
+ */
+ if (page_count(page) != 1 + !!PageSwapCache(page)) {
+ unlock_page(page);
+ continue;
+ }

- if (!try_to_free_swap(page)) {
+ if (PageSwapCache(page) && !try_to_free_swap(page)) {

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
More majordomo info at http://vger.kernel.org/majordomo-info.html
Please read the FAQ at http://www.tux.org/lkml/