"Sysrq-p is pretty useless unless you can force the keyboard interrupt and the spinning process onto the same CPU," noted Chuck Ebbert during a discussion centered around debugging tasks stuck in a running state. Pressing the
<Alt><SysRq><p> key combination is used for debugging, dumping the registers and flags from the CPU that handles the keypress interrupt to the console. UltraSPARC maintainer, David Miller, replied, "yes, I find this a painful limitation too," adding:
"Sparc64 used to dump the registers on all active cpus for show_regs() via a cross-call, and this was incredibly useful. But I disabled that as soon as I started playing with Niagara because at 32 cpus and larger the output is just too voluminous to be useful."
David then suggested, "what might be appropriate is just to get a one-line program counter dump on every cpu via some new sysrq keystroke." Chuck noted that similar functionality is provided by a patch in the -mm kernel, "IIRC -mm had something like this but it was buggy because we were sending IPIs to each processor asking them to print their state. Maybe it would work if we had a way of making them dump their state to a memory location and then collected and printed it from the CPU that's handling the sysrq."
Theo de Raadt [interview] described an active effort by OpenBSD developers to work around "serious bugs in Intel's Core 2 cpu". He went on to explain, "these processors are buggy as hell, and some of these bugs don't just cause development/debugging problems, but will *ASSUREDLY* be exploitable from userland code. As is typical, BIOS vendors will be very late providing workarounds / fixes for these processors bugs. Some bugs are unfixable and cannot be worked around. Intel only provides detailed fixes to BIOS vendors and large operating system groups. Open Source operating systems are largely left in the cold." He provided a link to the full errata (in PDF format) as well as a graphical overview, summarizing:
"Note that some errata like AI65, AI79, AI43, AI39, AI90, AI99 scare the hell out of us. Some of these are things that cannot be fixed in running code, and some are things that every operating system will do until about mid-2008, because that is how the MMU has always been managed on all generations of Intel/AMD/whoeverelse hardware. Now Intel is telling people to manage the MMU's TLB flushes in a new and different way. Yet even if we do so, some of the errata listed are unaffected by doing so.
As I said before, hiding in this list are 20-30 bugs that cannot be worked around by operating systems, and will be potentially exploitable. I would bet a lot of money that at least 2-3 of them are."
Con Kolivas [interview] continues to maintain the performance oriented -ck patchset that he started in early 2004 [story], "this patchset is designed to improve system responsiveness and interactivity. It is configurable to any workload but the default -ck patch is aimed at the desktop and -cks is available with more emphasis on serverspace." In Con's latest release, 2.6.21-ck1, he notes that he has updated the patchset to include his improved SD cpu scheduler [story], "the staircase-deadline cpu scheduler has replaced the old staircase design in this version."
Con goes on to explain, "the staircase-deadline cpu scheduler can be set in either purely forward-looking mode for absolutely rigid fairness and cpu distribution according to nice level, or it can allow a small per-process history to smooth out cpu usage perturbations common in interactive tasks by enabling this sysctl. While small fairness issues can arise with this enabled, overall fairness is usually still strongly maintained and starvation is never possible. Enabling this can significantly smooth out 3d graphics and games." Swap prefetch [story] is also among the patches included in the -ck patchset.
Rusty Russell is a Linux kernel hacker living in Australia, working for IBM's Linux Technology Center. He's also a frequent and talented speaker at Linux gatherings. When talking about Rusty in an earlier interview, Andrew Morton summarized, "he's just a really sharp and witty guy - anyone who has attended one of his sessions at a conference will attest to that!"
Well known for his packet filtering efforts, having written both ipchains and netfilter/iptables, he has continued to make an impressive number of contributions to Linux kernel development. A large sampling of his current projects have been merged into the upcoming 2.6 kernel, including futexes, per-cpu counters, hot pluggable CPU support, and a complete rewrite of the in-kernel module loading code.
For a humorous sample of Rusty's wit, one only needs to look to his email signature which reads, "Anyone who quotes me in their sig is an idiot. -- Rusty Russell." Read on for the full interview.