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Re: Making global variables of if.c MPSAFE

On 26 Jul, 2014, at 22:38 , Ryota Ozaki <> wrote:
> The global variables are read-mostly, so I
> replace the mutex with a rwlock and use it
> for all. Unfortunately, ifnet_list may be
> accessed from interrupt context (only read
> though) so that I add a spin mutex for it;
> we hold the mutex when we modify ifnet_list
> as well as the rwlock.

I don't think this is a good way to do this.  I think
it would be better to either eliminate the need to
access that list from the packet processing path or
replace the structure with one which can be read while
it is being modified so that readers don't need to take
a lock on every access to prevent something (a write)
which is hardly ever going to happen anyway.  For the
latter it looks to me that most (all?) readers treat
the thing as a singly linked list which is about
the most straight forward structure to arrange to
support lockless readers.  A rwlock might be justifiable
for a structure which needs to be frequently written
as well as read (though it would be even better not
to have the packet processing path access structures
like that), but for a read-mostly structure it is way
better to eliminate all unnecessary work from the readers
even at the cost of greater complexity for the writer.

There's a bigger issue here, however.  Code which thinks
it is reasonable to scan the entire list of interfaces
looking for something is making the assumption that this
list is quite short.  That code will fail if this isn't
true.  While it is often the case that the number of
interfaces is small sometimes it isn't; this is particularly
true since, at the protocol level, an "interface" is
a software construct that doesn't map one-to-one to hardware
so you don't need to be running on a monster piece of
hardware (though I've seen those too) to have a lot of
"interfaces".  I've seen boxes with a small number of
10 Gbps ethernet ports with >100,000 interfaces
configured (think a PPPoE concentrator), and even a
single ethernet with a bunch of VLANs can get the "interface"
count up to where it really doesn't work to do linear
searches.  I don't think there's a good reason to keep
code which fails on machines like that so I think at
some point it is going to be necessary to rethink what
interface structures do, and what the packet processing
path needs them to do, so it is no longer necessary to
have code like that.

Dennis Ferguson

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