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Re: [Xen-devel] Fatal crash on xen4.2 HVM + qemu-xen dm + NFS

On Mon, 21 Jan 2013, Alex Bligh wrote:
> Ian, Stefano,
> --On 21 January 2013 16:51:13 +0000 Ian Campbell <Ian.Campbell@xxxxxxxxxx> 
> wrote:
> > Not as far as I know, but Trond zero-copy == O_DIRECT so if you aren't
> > using O_DIRECT then you aren't using zero copy -- and that agrees with
> > my recollection. In that case your issue is something totally unrelated.
> Further investigation suggests that Stefano's commit
>   47982cb00584371928e44ab6dfc6865d605a52fd
> (attached below) may have somewhat surprising results.
> Firstly, changing the cache=writeback settings as passed to the QEMU
> command line probably only affects emulated disks, as the parameters
> for the PV disk appear to be hard coded per this commit, assuming I've
> understood correctly. I am guessing my fiddling with the cache=
> setting merely caused the emulated disk (used in HVM until the kernel
> has loaded) to break.

That is correct.

> Secondly, the chosen mode of cache operation is:
> This appears to be the same as "cache=none" produces (see code
> fragment from bdrv_parse_cache_flags below), which is somewhat
> counterintuitive given the name of the second flag. "cache=writeback"
> (as appears on the command line) uses BDRV_O_CACHE_WB only.
> BDRV_O_NOCACHE appears to map on Linux to O_DIRECT, and BDRV_O_CACHE_WB
> to writeback caching. This implies O_DIRECT will always be used. This
> is somewhat surprising as qemu by default only uses O_DIRECT with
> cache=none, and yet the emulated devices are set up with the
> equivalent of cache=writeback.

Yes, it is counterintuitive, but you got it right: BDRV_O_NOCACHE |

> But this would explain why I'm still seeing the crash with O_DIRECT
> apparently off (cache=writeback), as the cache setting is being ignored.
> This would also explain why Ian might not have seen it (it went in
> late and without O_DIRECT we think this crash can't happen).
> Is the BDRV_O_NOCACHE | BDRV_O_CACHE_WB combination intentional or
> should BDRV_O_NOCACHE be removed? Why would the default be different
> for emulated and PV disks?

The setting is different from the one of emulated devices because after
analyzing the IDE code, we thought that using BDRV_O_CACHE_WB would be
safe enough because when the guest wants to make sure that the data hits
the disk, it issues an IDE FLUSH_CACHE operation.

In the xen_disk case instead, we weren't quite sure about the
assumptions of all the possible different PV frontend drivers, so we
went for the safe choice, that is O_DIRECT.

In fact if we wanted to change the cache setting for xen_disk, we would
probably have to go back to write-through (this setting is selected by
passing neither BDRV_O_NOCACHE nor BDRV_O_CACHE_WB) that is quite slow.

Recently, thanks to Konrad's work on blkfront cache flushes, a new flush
operation has been implemented in the block protocol:
xen_disk by 7e7b7cba16faa7b721b822fa9ed8bebafa35700f "xen_disk:
Thanks to the new operation, maybe it is now safe to use write-back
Konrad, what do you think? Is blkback using the Linux disk cache by
default? Or is it using O_DIRECT?

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