Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Preemption and Context Switching

Context switching, the switching from one runnable task to another, is handled by the context_switch() function defined in kernel/sched.c. It is called by schedule() when a new process has been selected to run. It does two basic jobs:

  • Calls switch_mm(), which is defined in include/asm/mmu_context.h, to switch the virtual memory mapping from the previous process's to that of the new process.

  • Calls switch_to(), defined in include/asm/system.h, to switch the processor state from the previous process's to the current's. This involves saving and restoring stack information and the processor registers.

The kernel, however, must know when to call schedule(). If it only called schedule() when code explicitly did so, user-space programs could run indefinitely. Instead, the kernel provides the need_resched flag to signify whether a reschedule should be performed (See Table 3.2). This flag is set by scheduler_tick() when a process runs out of timeslice and by try_to_wake_up() when a process that has a higher priority than the currently running process is awakened. The kernel will check the flag, see that it is set, and call schedule() to switch to a new process. The flag is a message to the kernel that the scheduler should be invoked as soon as possible because another process deserves to run.

Table 3.2 Functions for Accessing and Manipulating need_resched

Function

Purpose

set_tsk_need_resched(task)

Set the need_resched flag in the given process

clear_tsk_need_resched(task)

Clear the need_resched flag in the given process

need_resched()

Test the value of the need_resched flag; return true if set and false otherwise


Upon returning to user-space or returning from an interrupt, the need_resched flag is checked. If it is set, the kernel invokes the scheduler before continuing.

The flag is per-process, and not simply global, because it is faster to access a value in the process descriptor (because of the speed of current and because it might be in a cache line) than a global variable. Historically, the flag was global before the 2.2 kernel. In 2.2 and 2.4, the flag was an int inside the task_struct. In 2.6, it was moved into a single bit of a special flag variable inside the thread_info structure. As you can see, the kernel developers are never satisfied.

User Preemption

User preemption occurs when the kernel is about to return to user-space, need_resched is set, and therefore, the scheduler is invoked. If the kernel is returning to user-space, it knows it is in a safe quiescent state. In other words, if it is safe to continue executing the current task, it is also safe to pick a new task to execute. Consequently, whenever the kernel is preparing to return to user-space, either on return from an interrupt or after a system call, the value of need_resched is checked. If it is set, the scheduler is invoked to select a new (more fit) process to execute. Both the return paths for return from interrupt and return from system call are architecture-dependent and typically implemented in assembly in entry.S (which, aside from kernel entry code, also contains kernel exit code).

In short, user preemption can occur

  • When returning to user-space from a system call

  • When returning to user-space from an interrupt handler

Kernel Preemption

The Linux kernel, unlike most other Unix variants and many other operating systems, is a fully preemptive kernel. In non-preemptive kernels, kernel code runs until completion. That is, the scheduler is not capable of rescheduling a task while it is in the kernel—kernel code is scheduled cooperatively, not preemptively. Kernel code runs until it finishes (returns to user-space) or explicitly blocks. In the 2.6 kernel, however, the Linux kernel became preemptive; it is now possible to preempt a task at any point, so long as the kernel is in a state in which it is safe to reschedule.

So when is it safe to reschedule? The kernel is capable of preempting a task running in the kernel so long as it does not hold a lock. That is, locks are used as markers of regions of non-preemptibility. Because the kernel is SMP-safe, if a lock is not held, the current code is reentrant and capable of being preempted.

The first change in supporting kernel preemption was the addition of a preemption counter, preempt_count, to each process's task_struct. This counter begins at zero and increments for each lock that is acquired and decrements for each lock that is released. When the counter is zero, the kernel is preemptible. Upon return from interrupt, if returning to kernel-space, the kernel checks the values of need_resched and preempt_count. If need_resched is set and preempt_count is zero, then a more important task is runnable and it is safe to preempt. Thus, the scheduler is invoked. If preempt_count is nonzero, a lock is held and it is unsafe to reschedule. In that case, the interrupt returns as usual to the currently executing task. When all the locks that the current task is holding are released, preempt_count returns to zero. At that time, the unlock code checks if need_resched is set. If so, the scheduler will be invoked. Enabling and disabling kernel preemption is sometimes required in kernel code and will be discussed in Chapter 8.

Kernel preemption can also occur explicitly, when a task in the kernel blocks or explicitly calls schedule(). This form of kernel preemption has always been supported because no additional logic is required to ensure the kernel is in a state that is safe to preempt. It is assumed that the code that explicitly calls schedule() knows it is safe to reschedule.

Kernel preemption can occur

  • When returning to kernel-space from an interrupt handler

  • When kernel code becomes preemptible again

  • If a task in the kernel explicitly calls schedule()

  • If a task in the kernel blocks (which results in a call to schedule())

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020