a patch series
Workqueues are the primary mechanism for deferring work within the Linux
kernel. The maintainer of this facility is Tejun Heo, who recently posted
changing an aspect of
workqueue behavior that, perhaps, few kernel developers know about. Most
workqueues are reentrant, meaning that the same work item can be running
on multiple CPUs at the same time. That can result in concurrency that
developers are not expecting; it also significantly complicates the various
"flush" operations in surprising ways. In summary, Tejun says:
In the end, workqueue is a pain in the ass to get completely
correct and the breakages are very subtle. Depending on queueing
pattern, assuming non-reentrancy might work fine most of the time.
The effect of using flush_work() where flush_work_sync() should be
used could be a lot more subtle. flush_work() becoming noop would
happen extremely rarely for most users but it definitely is there.
A tool which is used as widely as workqueue shouldn't be this
difficult and error-prone. This is just silly.
Tejun's patch set is intended to make the workqueue interface work more
like the timer interface, which is rather more careful about allowing
concurrent operations on the same timer. All workqueues become
non-reentrant, and aspects of the API related to reentrant behavior have
been simplified. There is, evidently, a slight performance cost to the
change, but Tejun says it is small, and the cost of flush operations should
go down. It seems like a worthwhile trade-off, overall, but anybody who
maintains code that depends on concurrent work item execution will want to
be aware of the change.
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