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Date: Mon, 29 May 2017 14:23:16 +0200
From: Peter Zijlstra <>
To: "Eric W. Biederman" <>
Cc: Christoph Hellwig <>,
	Kees Cook <>,
	Andrew Morton <>,
	Elena Reshetova <>,
	Greg KH <>,
	Ingo Molnar <>,
	Alexey Dobriyan <>,
	"Serge E. Hallyn" <>,,
	Davidlohr Bueso <>,
	Manfred Spraul <>,
	"" <>,
	James Bottomley <>,
	"" <>, Ingo Molnar <>,
	Arnd Bergmann <>,
	"David S. Miller" <>,
	Rik van Riel <>,
	linux-arch <>,
	"" <>,
	LKML <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH 0/3] ipc subsystem refcounter conversions

On Mon, May 29, 2017 at 06:39:44AM -0500, Eric W. Biederman wrote:
> I failed to see that there is a refcount_inc.  Too much noise in
> the header file I suppose.
> But implementing refcount_inc in terms of refcount_inc_not_zero is
> totally broken.  The two operations are not the same and the go to
> different assumptions the code is making.
> That explains why you think refcount_inc_not_zero should lie because
> you are implementing refcount_inc with it.  They are semantically very
> different operations.  Please separate them.

There has been much debate about this. And the best I'll do is add a
comment and/or retain these exact semantics.

What is done is:

	refcount_inc() := WARN_ON(!refcount_inc_not_zero())

Because incrementing a zero reference count is a use-after-free and
something we should not do ever.

This is where the whole usage count vs reference count pain comes from.

Once there are no more _references_ to an object, a reference count
frees the object. Therefore a zero reference count means a dead object
and incrementing from that is fail.

The usage count model otoh counts how many (active) users there are of
an object, and no active users is a good and expected situation. But it
is very explicitly not a reference count. Because even in the no users
case do we have a reference to the object (we've not leaked it after
all, we just don't track all references).

Similarly, refcount_dec() is implemented using dec_and_test() and will
WARN when it hits 0, because this is a leak and we don't want those

A usage count variant otoh would be fine with hitting 0.

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