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	      Overview of the Linux Virtual File System
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	Original author: Richard Gooch <rgooch@atnf.csiro.au>
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		  Last updated on October 28, 2005
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  Copyright (C) 1999 Richard Gooch
  Copyright (C) 2005 Pekka Enberg
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  This file is released under the GPLv2.
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Introduction
============
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The Virtual File System (also known as the Virtual Filesystem Switch)
is the software layer in the kernel that provides the filesystem
interface to userspace programs. It also provides an abstraction
within the kernel which allows different filesystem implementations to
coexist.
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VFS system calls open(2), stat(2), read(2), write(2), chmod(2) and so
on are called from a process context. Filesystem locking is described
in the document Documentation/filesystems/Locking.
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Directory Entry Cache (dcache)
------------------------------
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The VFS implements the open(2), stat(2), chmod(2), and similar system
calls. The pathname argument that is passed to them is used by the VFS
to search through the directory entry cache (also known as the dentry
cache or dcache). This provides a very fast look-up mechanism to
translate a pathname (filename) into a specific dentry. Dentries live
in RAM and are never saved to disc: they exist only for performance.

The dentry cache is meant to be a view into your entire filespace. As
most computers cannot fit all dentries in the RAM at the same time,
some bits of the cache are missing. In order to resolve your pathname
into a dentry, the VFS may have to resort to creating dentries along
the way, and then loading the inode. This is done by looking up the
inode.


The Inode Object
----------------

An individual dentry usually has a pointer to an inode. Inodes are
filesystem objects such as regular files, directories, FIFOs and other
beasts.  They live either on the disc (for block device filesystems)
or in the memory (for pseudo filesystems). Inodes that live on the
disc are copied into the memory when required and changes to the inode
are written back to disc. A single inode can be pointed to by multiple
dentries (hard links, for example, do this).

To look up an inode requires that the VFS calls the lookup() method of
the parent directory inode. This method is installed by the specific
filesystem implementation that the inode lives in. Once the VFS has
the required dentry (and hence the inode), we can do all those boring
things like open(2) the file, or stat(2) it to peek at the inode
data. The stat(2) operation is fairly simple: once the VFS has the
dentry, it peeks at the inode data and passes some of it back to
userspace.


The File Object
---------------
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Opening a file requires another operation: allocation of a file
structure (this is the kernel-side implementation of file
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descriptors). The freshly allocated file structure is initialized with
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a pointer to the dentry and a set of file operation member functions.
These are taken from the inode data. The open() file method is then
called so the specific filesystem implementation can do it's work. You
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can see that this is another switch performed by the VFS. The file
structure is placed into the file descriptor table for the process.
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Reading, writing and closing files (and other assorted VFS operations)
is done by using the userspace file descriptor to grab the appropriate
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file structure, and then calling the required file structure method to
do whatever is required. For as long as the file is open, it keeps the
dentry in use, which in turn means that the VFS inode is still in use.
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Registering and Mounting a Filesystem
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=====================================
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To register and unregister a filesystem, use the following API
functions:
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   #include <linux/fs.h>
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   extern int register_filesystem(struct file_system_type *);
   extern int unregister_filesystem(struct file_system_type *);
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The passed struct file_system_type describes your filesystem. When a
request is made to mount a device onto a directory in your filespace,
the VFS will call the appropriate get_sb() method for the specific
filesystem. The dentry for the mount point will then be updated to
point to the root inode for the new filesystem.
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You can see all filesystems that are registered to the kernel in the
file /proc/filesystems.
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struct file_system_type
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-----------------------
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This describes the filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.13, the following
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members are defined:

struct file_system_type {
	const char *name;
	int fs_flags;
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        struct int (*get_sb) (struct file_system_type *, int,
                              const char *, void *, struct vfsmount *);
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        void (*kill_sb) (struct super_block *);
        struct module *owner;
        struct file_system_type * next;
        struct list_head fs_supers;
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};

  name: the name of the filesystem type, such as "ext2", "iso9660",
	"msdos" and so on

  fs_flags: various flags (i.e. FS_REQUIRES_DEV, FS_NO_DCACHE, etc.)

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  get_sb: the method to call when a new instance of this
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	filesystem should be mounted

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  kill_sb: the method to call when an instance of this filesystem
	should be unmounted

  owner: for internal VFS use: you should initialize this to THIS_MODULE in
  	most cases.
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  next: for internal VFS use: you should initialize this to NULL

The get_sb() method has the following arguments:
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  struct super_block *sb: the superblock structure. This is partially
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	initialized by the VFS and the rest must be initialized by the
	get_sb() method

  int flags: mount flags

  const char *dev_name: the device name we are mounting.
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  void *data: arbitrary mount options, usually comes as an ASCII
	string

  int silent: whether or not to be silent on error

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The get_sb() method must determine if the block device specified
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in the superblock contains a filesystem of the type the method
supports. On success the method returns the superblock pointer, on
failure it returns NULL.

The most interesting member of the superblock structure that the
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get_sb() method fills in is the "s_op" field. This is a pointer to
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a "struct super_operations" which describes the next level of the
filesystem implementation.

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Usually, a filesystem uses one of the generic get_sb() implementations
and provides a fill_super() method instead. The generic methods are:
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  get_sb_bdev: mount a filesystem residing on a block device
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  get_sb_nodev: mount a filesystem that is not backed by a device

  get_sb_single: mount a filesystem which shares the instance between
  	all mounts

A fill_super() method implementation has the following arguments:

  struct super_block *sb: the superblock structure. The method fill_super()
  	must initialize this properly.

  void *data: arbitrary mount options, usually comes as an ASCII
	string

  int silent: whether or not to be silent on error


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The Superblock Object
=====================

A superblock object represents a mounted filesystem.


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struct super_operations
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-----------------------
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This describes how the VFS can manipulate the superblock of your
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filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.13, the following members are defined:
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struct super_operations {
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        struct inode *(*alloc_inode)(struct super_block *sb);
        void (*destroy_inode)(struct inode *);

        void (*read_inode) (struct inode *);

        void (*dirty_inode) (struct inode *);
        int (*write_inode) (struct inode *, int);
        void (*put_inode) (struct inode *);
        void (*drop_inode) (struct inode *);
        void (*delete_inode) (struct inode *);
        void (*put_super) (struct super_block *);
        void (*write_super) (struct super_block *);
        int (*sync_fs)(struct super_block *sb, int wait);
        void (*write_super_lockfs) (struct super_block *);
        void (*unlockfs) (struct super_block *);
        int (*statfs) (struct super_block *, struct kstatfs *);
        int (*remount_fs) (struct super_block *, int *, char *);
        void (*clear_inode) (struct inode *);
        void (*umount_begin) (struct super_block *);

        void (*sync_inodes) (struct super_block *sb,
                                struct writeback_control *wbc);
        int (*show_options)(struct seq_file *, struct vfsmount *);

        ssize_t (*quota_read)(struct super_block *, int, char *, size_t, loff_t);
        ssize_t (*quota_write)(struct super_block *, int, const char *, size_t, loff_t);
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};

All methods are called without any locks being held, unless otherwise
noted. This means that most methods can block safely. All methods are
only called from a process context (i.e. not from an interrupt handler
or bottom half).

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  alloc_inode: this method is called by inode_alloc() to allocate memory
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 	for struct inode and initialize it.  If this function is not
 	defined, a simple 'struct inode' is allocated.  Normally
 	alloc_inode will be used to allocate a larger structure which
 	contains a 'struct inode' embedded within it.
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  destroy_inode: this method is called by destroy_inode() to release
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  	resources allocated for struct inode.  It is only required if
  	->alloc_inode was defined and simply undoes anything done by
	->alloc_inode.
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  read_inode: this method is called to read a specific inode from the
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        mounted filesystem.  The i_ino member in the struct inode is
	initialized by the VFS to indicate which inode to read. Other
	members are filled in by this method.

	You can set this to NULL and use iget5_locked() instead of iget()
	to read inodes.  This is necessary for filesystems for which the
	inode number is not sufficient to identify an inode.

  dirty_inode: this method is called by the VFS to mark an inode dirty.
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  write_inode: this method is called when the VFS needs to write an
	inode to disc.  The second parameter indicates whether the write
	should be synchronous or not, not all filesystems check this flag.

  put_inode: called when the VFS inode is removed from the inode
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	cache.
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  drop_inode: called when the last access to the inode is dropped,
	with the inode_lock spinlock held.

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	This method should be either NULL (normal UNIX filesystem
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	semantics) or "generic_delete_inode" (for filesystems that do not
	want to cache inodes - causing "delete_inode" to always be
	called regardless of the value of i_nlink)

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	The "generic_delete_inode()" behavior is equivalent to the
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	old practice of using "force_delete" in the put_inode() case,
	but does not have the races that the "force_delete()" approach
	had. 

  delete_inode: called when the VFS wants to delete an inode

  put_super: called when the VFS wishes to free the superblock
	(i.e. unmount). This is called with the superblock lock held

  write_super: called when the VFS superblock needs to be written to
	disc. This method is optional

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  sync_fs: called when VFS is writing out all dirty data associated with
  	a superblock. The second parameter indicates whether the method
	should wait until the write out has been completed. Optional.

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  write_super_lockfs: called when VFS is locking a filesystem and
  	forcing it into a consistent state.  This method is currently
  	used by the Logical Volume Manager (LVM).
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  unlockfs: called when VFS is unlocking a filesystem and making it writable
  	again.

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  statfs: called when the VFS needs to get filesystem statistics. This
	is called with the kernel lock held

  remount_fs: called when the filesystem is remounted. This is called
	with the kernel lock held

  clear_inode: called then the VFS clears the inode. Optional

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  umount_begin: called when the VFS is unmounting a filesystem.

  sync_inodes: called when the VFS is writing out dirty data associated with
  	a superblock.

  show_options: called by the VFS to show mount options for /proc/<pid>/mounts.

  quota_read: called by the VFS to read from filesystem quota file.

  quota_write: called by the VFS to write to filesystem quota file.

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The read_inode() method is responsible for filling in the "i_op"
field. This is a pointer to a "struct inode_operations" which
describes the methods that can be performed on individual inodes.


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The Inode Object
================

An inode object represents an object within the filesystem.


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struct inode_operations
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-----------------------
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This describes how the VFS can manipulate an inode in your
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filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.13, the following members are defined:
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struct inode_operations {
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	int (*create) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,int, struct nameidata *);
	struct dentry * (*lookup) (struct inode *,struct dentry *, struct nameidata *);
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	int (*link) (struct dentry *,struct inode *,struct dentry *);
	int (*unlink) (struct inode *,struct dentry *);
	int (*symlink) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,const char *);
	int (*mkdir) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,int);
	int (*rmdir) (struct inode *,struct dentry *);
	int (*mknod) (struct inode *,struct dentry *,int,dev_t);
	int (*rename) (struct inode *, struct dentry *,
			struct inode *, struct dentry *);
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	int (*readlink) (struct dentry *, char __user *,int);
        void * (*follow_link) (struct dentry *, struct nameidata *);
        void (*put_link) (struct dentry *, struct nameidata *, void *);
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	void (*truncate) (struct inode *);
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	int (*permission) (struct inode *, int, struct nameidata *);
	int (*setattr) (struct dentry *, struct iattr *);
	int (*getattr) (struct vfsmount *mnt, struct dentry *, struct kstat *);
	int (*setxattr) (struct dentry *, const char *,const void *,size_t,int);
	ssize_t (*getxattr) (struct dentry *, const char *, void *, size_t);
	ssize_t (*listxattr) (struct dentry *, char *, size_t);
	int (*removexattr) (struct dentry *, const char *);
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};

Again, all methods are called without any locks being held, unless
otherwise noted.

  create: called by the open(2) and creat(2) system calls. Only
	required if you want to support regular files. The dentry you
	get should not have an inode (i.e. it should be a negative
	dentry). Here you will probably call d_instantiate() with the
	dentry and the newly created inode

  lookup: called when the VFS needs to look up an inode in a parent
	directory. The name to look for is found in the dentry. This
	method must call d_add() to insert the found inode into the
	dentry. The "i_count" field in the inode structure should be
	incremented. If the named inode does not exist a NULL inode
	should be inserted into the dentry (this is called a negative
	dentry). Returning an error code from this routine must only
	be done on a real error, otherwise creating inodes with system
	calls like create(2), mknod(2), mkdir(2) and so on will fail.
	If you wish to overload the dentry methods then you should
	initialise the "d_dop" field in the dentry; this is a pointer
	to a struct "dentry_operations".
	This method is called with the directory inode semaphore held

  link: called by the link(2) system call. Only required if you want
	to support hard links. You will probably need to call
	d_instantiate() just as you would in the create() method

  unlink: called by the unlink(2) system call. Only required if you
	want to support deleting inodes

  symlink: called by the symlink(2) system call. Only required if you
	want to support symlinks. You will probably need to call
	d_instantiate() just as you would in the create() method

  mkdir: called by the mkdir(2) system call. Only required if you want
	to support creating subdirectories. You will probably need to
	call d_instantiate() just as you would in the create() method

  rmdir: called by the rmdir(2) system call. Only required if you want
	to support deleting subdirectories

  mknod: called by the mknod(2) system call to create a device (char,
	block) inode or a named pipe (FIFO) or socket. Only required
	if you want to support creating these types of inodes. You
	will probably need to call d_instantiate() just as you would
	in the create() method

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  rename: called by the rename(2) system call to rename the object to
	have the parent and name given by the second inode and dentry.

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  readlink: called by the readlink(2) system call. Only required if
	you want to support reading symbolic links

  follow_link: called by the VFS to follow a symbolic link to the
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	inode it points to.  Only required if you want to support
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	symbolic links.  This method returns a void pointer cookie
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	that is passed to put_link().

  put_link: called by the VFS to release resources allocated by
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  	follow_link().  The cookie returned by follow_link() is passed
  	to to this method as the last parameter.  It is used by
  	filesystems such as NFS where page cache is not stable
  	(i.e. page that was installed when the symbolic link walk
  	started might not be in the page cache at the end of the
  	walk).

  truncate: called by the VFS to change the size of a file.  The
 	i_size field of the inode is set to the desired size by the
 	VFS before this method is called.  This method is called by
 	the truncate(2) system call and related functionality.
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  permission: called by the VFS to check for access rights on a POSIX-like
  	filesystem.

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  setattr: called by the VFS to set attributes for a file. This method
  	is called by chmod(2) and related system calls.
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  getattr: called by the VFS to get attributes of a file. This method
  	is called by stat(2) and related system calls.
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  setxattr: called by the VFS to set an extended attribute for a file.
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  	Extended attribute is a name:value pair associated with an
  	inode. This method is called by setxattr(2) system call.

  getxattr: called by the VFS to retrieve the value of an extended
  	attribute name. This method is called by getxattr(2) function
  	call.

  listxattr: called by the VFS to list all extended attributes for a
  	given file. This method is called by listxattr(2) system call.
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  removexattr: called by the VFS to remove an extended attribute from
  	a file. This method is called by removexattr(2) system call.
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The Address Space Object
========================

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The address space object is used to group and manage pages in the page
cache.  It can be used to keep track of the pages in a file (or
anything else) and also track the mapping of sections of the file into
process address spaces.

There are a number of distinct yet related services that an
address-space can provide.  These include communicating memory
pressure, page lookup by address, and keeping track of pages tagged as
Dirty or Writeback.

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The first can be used independently to the others.  The VM can try to
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either write dirty pages in order to clean them, or release clean
pages in order to reuse them.  To do this it can call the ->writepage
method on dirty pages, and ->releasepage on clean pages with
PagePrivate set. Clean pages without PagePrivate and with no external
references will be released without notice being given to the
address_space.

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To achieve this functionality, pages need to be placed on an LRU with
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lru_cache_add and mark_page_active needs to be called whenever the
page is used.

Pages are normally kept in a radix tree index by ->index. This tree
maintains information about the PG_Dirty and PG_Writeback status of
each page, so that pages with either of these flags can be found
quickly.

The Dirty tag is primarily used by mpage_writepages - the default
->writepages method.  It uses the tag to find dirty pages to call
->writepage on.  If mpage_writepages is not used (i.e. the address
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provides its own ->writepages) , the PAGECACHE_TAG_DIRTY tag is
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almost unused.  write_inode_now and sync_inode do use it (through
__sync_single_inode) to check if ->writepages has been successful in
writing out the whole address_space.

The Writeback tag is used by filemap*wait* and sync_page* functions,
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via wait_on_page_writeback_range, to wait for all writeback to
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complete.  While waiting ->sync_page (if defined) will be called on
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each page that is found to require writeback.
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An address_space handler may attach extra information to a page,
typically using the 'private' field in the 'struct page'.  If such
information is attached, the PG_Private flag should be set.  This will
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cause various VM routines to make extra calls into the address_space
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handler to deal with that data.

An address space acts as an intermediate between storage and
application.  Data is read into the address space a whole page at a
time, and provided to the application either by copying of the page,
or by memory-mapping the page.
Data is written into the address space by the application, and then
written-back to storage typically in whole pages, however the
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address_space has finer control of write sizes.
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The read process essentially only requires 'readpage'.  The write
process is more complicated and uses prepare_write/commit_write or
set_page_dirty to write data into the address_space, and writepage,
sync_page, and writepages to writeback data to storage.

Adding and removing pages to/from an address_space is protected by the
inode's i_mutex.

When data is written to a page, the PG_Dirty flag should be set.  It
typically remains set until writepage asks for it to be written.  This
should clear PG_Dirty and set PG_Writeback.  It can be actually
written at any point after PG_Dirty is clear.  Once it is known to be
safe, PG_Writeback is cleared.

Writeback makes use of a writeback_control structure...
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struct address_space_operations
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-------------------------------
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This describes how the VFS can manipulate mapping of a file to page cache in
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your filesystem. As of kernel 2.6.16, the following members are defined:
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struct address_space_operations {
	int (*writepage)(struct page *page, struct writeback_control *wbc);
	int (*readpage)(struct file *, struct page *);
	int (*sync_page)(struct page *);
	int (*writepages)(struct address_space *, struct writeback_control *);
	int (*set_page_dirty)(struct page *page);
	int (*readpages)(struct file *filp, struct address_space *mapping,
			struct list_head *pages, unsigned nr_pages);
	int (*prepare_write)(struct file *, struct page *, unsigned, unsigned);
	int (*commit_write)(struct file *, struct page *, unsigned, unsigned);
	sector_t (*bmap)(struct address_space *, sector_t);
	int (*invalidatepage) (struct page *, unsigned long);
	int (*releasepage) (struct page *, int);
	ssize_t (*direct_IO)(int, struct kiocb *, const struct iovec *iov,
			loff_t offset, unsigned long nr_segs);
	struct page* (*get_xip_page)(struct address_space *, sector_t,
			int);
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	/* migrate the contents of a page to the specified target */
	int (*migratepage) (struct page *, struct page *);
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};

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  writepage: called by the VM to write a dirty page to backing store.
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      This may happen for data integrity reasons (i.e. 'sync'), or
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      to free up memory (flush).  The difference can be seen in
      wbc->sync_mode.
      The PG_Dirty flag has been cleared and PageLocked is true.
      writepage should start writeout, should set PG_Writeback,
      and should make sure the page is unlocked, either synchronously
      or asynchronously when the write operation completes.

      If wbc->sync_mode is WB_SYNC_NONE, ->writepage doesn't have to
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      try too hard if there are problems, and may choose to write out
      other pages from the mapping if that is easier (e.g. due to
      internal dependencies).  If it chooses not to start writeout, it
      should return AOP_WRITEPAGE_ACTIVATE so that the VM will not keep
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      calling ->writepage on that page.

      See the file "Locking" for more details.
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  readpage: called by the VM to read a page from backing store.
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       The page will be Locked when readpage is called, and should be
       unlocked and marked uptodate once the read completes.
       If ->readpage discovers that it needs to unlock the page for
       some reason, it can do so, and then return AOP_TRUNCATED_PAGE.
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       In this case, the page will be relocated, relocked and if
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       that all succeeds, ->readpage will be called again.
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  sync_page: called by the VM to notify the backing store to perform all
  	queued I/O operations for a page. I/O operations for other pages
	associated with this address_space object may also be performed.

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	This function is optional and is called only for pages with
  	PG_Writeback set while waiting for the writeback to complete.

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  writepages: called by the VM to write out pages associated with the
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  	address_space object.  If wbc->sync_mode is WBC_SYNC_ALL, then
  	the writeback_control will specify a range of pages that must be
  	written out.  If it is WBC_SYNC_NONE, then a nr_to_write is given
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	and that many pages should be written if possible.
	If no ->writepages is given, then mpage_writepages is used
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  	instead.  This will choose pages from the address space that are
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  	tagged as DIRTY and will pass them to ->writepage.
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  set_page_dirty: called by the VM to set a page dirty.
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        This is particularly needed if an address space attaches
        private data to a page, and that data needs to be updated when
        a page is dirtied.  This is called, for example, when a memory
	mapped page gets modified.
	If defined, it should set the PageDirty flag, and the
        PAGECACHE_TAG_DIRTY tag in the radix tree.
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  readpages: called by the VM to read pages associated with the address_space
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  	object. This is essentially just a vector version of
  	readpage.  Instead of just one page, several pages are
  	requested.
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	readpages is only used for read-ahead, so read errors are
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  	ignored.  If anything goes wrong, feel free to give up.
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  prepare_write: called by the generic write path in VM to set up a write
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  	request for a page.  This indicates to the address space that
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  	the given range of bytes is about to be written.  The
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  	address_space should check that the write will be able to
  	complete, by allocating space if necessary and doing any other
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  	internal housekeeping.  If the write will update parts of
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  	any basic-blocks on storage, then those blocks should be
  	pre-read (if they haven't been read already) so that the
  	updated blocks can be written out properly.
	The page will be locked.  If prepare_write wants to unlock the
  	page it, like readpage, may do so and return
  	AOP_TRUNCATED_PAGE.
	In this case the prepare_write will be retried one the lock is
  	regained.

  commit_write: If prepare_write succeeds, new data will be copied
        into the page and then commit_write will be called.  It will
        typically update the size of the file (if appropriate) and
        mark the inode as dirty, and do any other related housekeeping
        operations.  It should avoid returning an error if possible -
        errors should have been handled by prepare_write.
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  bmap: called by the VFS to map a logical block offset within object to
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  	physical block number. This method is used by the FIBMAP
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  	ioctl and for working with swap-files.  To be able to swap to
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  	a file, the file must have a stable mapping to a block
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  	device.  The swap system does not go through the filesystem
  	but instead uses bmap to find out where the blocks in the file
  	are and uses those addresses directly.


  invalidatepage: If a page has PagePrivate set, then invalidatepage
        will be called when part or all of the page is to be removed
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	from the address space.  This generally corresponds to either a
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	truncation or a complete invalidation of the address space
	(in the latter case 'offset' will always be 0).
	Any private data associated with the page should be updated
	to reflect this truncation.  If offset is 0, then
	the private data should be released, because the page
	must be able to be completely discarded.  This may be done by
        calling the ->releasepage function, but in this case the
        release MUST succeed.

  releasepage: releasepage is called on PagePrivate pages to indicate
        that the page should be freed if possible.  ->releasepage
        should remove any private data from the page and clear the
        PagePrivate flag.  It may also remove the page from the
        address_space.  If this fails for some reason, it may indicate
        failure with a 0 return value.
	This is used in two distinct though related cases.  The first
        is when the VM finds a clean page with no active users and
        wants to make it a free page.  If ->releasepage succeeds, the
        page will be removed from the address_space and become free.

	The second case if when a request has been made to invalidate
        some or all pages in an address_space.  This can happen
        through the fadvice(POSIX_FADV_DONTNEED) system call or by the
        filesystem explicitly requesting it as nfs and 9fs do (when
        they believe the cache may be out of date with storage) by
        calling invalidate_inode_pages2().
	If the filesystem makes such a call, and needs to be certain
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        that all pages are invalidated, then its releasepage will
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        need to ensure this.  Possibly it can clear the PageUptodate
        bit if it cannot free private data yet.

  direct_IO: called by the generic read/write routines to perform
        direct_IO - that is IO requests which bypass the page cache
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        and transfer data directly between the storage and the
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        application's address space.
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  get_xip_page: called by the VM to translate a block number to a page.
	The page is valid until the corresponding filesystem is unmounted.
	Filesystems that want to use execute-in-place (XIP) need to implement
	it.  An example implementation can be found in fs/ext2/xip.c.

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  migrate_page:  This is used to compact the physical memory usage.
        If the VM wants to relocate a page (maybe off a memory card
        that is signalling imminent failure) it will pass a new page
	and an old page to this function.  migrate_page should
	transfer any private data across and update any references
        that it has to the page.
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The File Object
===============

A file object represents a file opened by a process.


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struct file_operations
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----------------------
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This describes how the VFS can manipulate an open file. As of kernel
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2.6.17, the following members are defined:
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struct file_operations {
	loff_t (*llseek) (struct file *, loff_t, int);
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	ssize_t (*read) (struct file *, char __user *, size_t, loff_t *);
	ssize_t (*aio_read) (struct kiocb *, char __user *, size_t, loff_t);
	ssize_t (*write) (struct file *, const char __user *, size_t, loff_t *);
	ssize_t (*aio_write) (struct kiocb *, const char __user *, size_t, loff_t);
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	int (*readdir) (struct file *, void *, filldir_t);
	unsigned int (*poll) (struct file *, struct poll_table_struct *);
	int (*ioctl) (struct inode *, struct file *, unsigned int, unsigned long);
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	long (*unlocked_ioctl) (struct file *, unsigned int, unsigned long);
	long (*compat_ioctl) (struct file *, unsigned int, unsigned long);
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	int (*mmap) (struct file *, struct vm_area_struct *);
	int (*open) (struct inode *, struct file *);
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	int (*flush) (struct file *);
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	int (*release) (struct inode *, struct file *);
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	int (*fsync) (struct file *, struct dentry *, int datasync);
	int (*aio_fsync) (struct kiocb *, int datasync);
	int (*fasync) (int, struct file *, int);
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	int (*lock) (struct file *, int, struct file_lock *);
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	ssize_t (*readv) (struct file *, const struct iovec *, unsigned long, loff_t *);
	ssize_t (*writev) (struct file *, const struct iovec *, unsigned long, loff_t *);
	ssize_t (*sendfile) (struct file *, loff_t *, size_t, read_actor_t, void *);
	ssize_t (*sendpage) (struct file *, struct page *, int, size_t, loff_t *, int);
	unsigned long (*get_unmapped_area)(struct file *, unsigned long, unsigned long, unsigned long, unsigned long);
	int (*check_flags)(int);
	int (*dir_notify)(struct file *filp, unsigned long arg);
	int (*flock) (struct file *, int, struct file_lock *);
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	ssize_t (*splice_write)(struct pipe_inode_info *, struct file *, size_t, unsigned 
int);
	ssize_t (*splice_read)(struct file *, struct pipe_inode_info *, size_t, unsigned  
int);
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};

Again, all methods are called without any locks being held, unless
otherwise noted.

  llseek: called when the VFS needs to move the file position index

  read: called by read(2) and related system calls

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  aio_read: called by io_submit(2) and other asynchronous I/O operations

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  write: called by write(2) and related system calls

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  aio_write: called by io_submit(2) and other asynchronous I/O operations

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  readdir: called when the VFS needs to read the directory contents

  poll: called by the VFS when a process wants to check if there is
	activity on this file and (optionally) go to sleep until there
	is activity. Called by the select(2) and poll(2) system calls

  ioctl: called by the ioctl(2) system call

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  unlocked_ioctl: called by the ioctl(2) system call. Filesystems that do not
  	require the BKL should use this method instead of the ioctl() above.

  compat_ioctl: called by the ioctl(2) system call when 32 bit system calls
 	 are used on 64 bit kernels.

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  mmap: called by the mmap(2) system call

  open: called by the VFS when an inode should be opened. When the VFS
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	opens a file, it creates a new "struct file". It then calls the
	open method for the newly allocated file structure. You might
	think that the open method really belongs in
	"struct inode_operations", and you may be right. I think it's
	done the way it is because it makes filesystems simpler to
	implement. The open() method is a good place to initialize the
	"private_data" member in the file structure if you want to point
	to a device structure

  flush: called by the close(2) system call to flush a file
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  release: called when the last reference to an open file is closed

  fsync: called by the fsync(2) system call

  fasync: called by the fcntl(2) system call when asynchronous
	(non-blocking) mode is enabled for a file

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  lock: called by the fcntl(2) system call for F_GETLK, F_SETLK, and F_SETLKW
  	commands

  readv: called by the readv(2) system call

  writev: called by the writev(2) system call

  sendfile: called by the sendfile(2) system call

  get_unmapped_area: called by the mmap(2) system call

  check_flags: called by the fcntl(2) system call for F_SETFL command

  dir_notify: called by the fcntl(2) system call for F_NOTIFY command

  flock: called by the flock(2) system call

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  splice_write: called by the VFS to splice data from a pipe to a file. This
		method is used by the splice(2) system call

  splice_read: called by the VFS to splice data from file to a pipe. This
	       method is used by the splice(2) system call

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Note that the file operations are implemented by the specific
filesystem in which the inode resides. When opening a device node
(character or block special) most filesystems will call special
support routines in the VFS which will locate the required device
driver information. These support routines replace the filesystem file
operations with those for the device driver, and then proceed to call
the new open() method for the file. This is how opening a device file
in the filesystem eventually ends up calling the device driver open()
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method.
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Directory Entry Cache (dcache)
==============================

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struct dentry_operations
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------------------------
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This describes how a filesystem can overload the standard dentry
operations. Dentries and the dcache are the domain of the VFS and the
individual filesystem implementations. Device drivers have no business
here. These methods may be set to NULL, as they are either optional or
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the VFS uses a default. As of kernel 2.6.13, the following members are
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defined:

struct dentry_operations {
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	int (*d_revalidate)(struct dentry *, struct nameidata *);
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	int (*d_hash) (struct dentry *, struct qstr *);
	int (*d_compare) (struct dentry *, struct qstr *, struct qstr *);
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	int (*d_delete)(struct dentry *);
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	void (*d_release)(struct dentry *);
	void (*d_iput)(struct dentry *, struct inode *);
};

  d_revalidate: called when the VFS needs to revalidate a dentry. This
	is called whenever a name look-up finds a dentry in the
	dcache. Most filesystems leave this as NULL, because all their
	dentries in the dcache are valid

  d_hash: called when the VFS adds a dentry to the hash table

  d_compare: called when a dentry should be compared with another

  d_delete: called when the last reference to a dentry is
	deleted. This means no-one is using the dentry, however it is
	still valid and in the dcache

  d_release: called when a dentry is really deallocated

  d_iput: called when a dentry loses its inode (just prior to its
	being deallocated). The default when this is NULL is that the
	VFS calls iput(). If you define this method, you must call
	iput() yourself

Each dentry has a pointer to its parent dentry, as well as a hash list
of child dentries. Child dentries are basically like files in a
directory.

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Directory Entry Cache API
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--------------------------

There are a number of functions defined which permit a filesystem to
manipulate dentries:

  dget: open a new handle for an existing dentry (this just increments
	the usage count)

  dput: close a handle for a dentry (decrements the usage count). If
	the usage count drops to 0, the "d_delete" method is called
	and the dentry is placed on the unused list if the dentry is
	still in its parents hash list. Putting the dentry on the
	unused list just means that if the system needs some RAM, it
	goes through the unused list of dentries and deallocates them.
	If the dentry has already been unhashed and the usage count
	drops to 0, in this case the dentry is deallocated after the
	"d_delete" method is called

  d_drop: this unhashes a dentry from its parents hash list. A
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	subsequent call to dput() will deallocate the dentry if its
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	usage count drops to 0

  d_delete: delete a dentry. If there are no other open references to
	the dentry then the dentry is turned into a negative dentry
	(the d_iput() method is called). If there are other
	references, then d_drop() is called instead

  d_add: add a dentry to its parents hash list and then calls
	d_instantiate()

  d_instantiate: add a dentry to the alias hash list for the inode and
	updates the "d_inode" member. The "i_count" member in the
	inode structure should be set/incremented. If the inode
	pointer is NULL, the dentry is called a "negative
	dentry". This function is commonly called when an inode is
	created for an existing negative dentry

  d_lookup: look up a dentry given its parent and path name component
	It looks up the child of that given name from the dcache
	hash table. If it is found, the reference count is incremented
	and the dentry is returned. The caller must use d_put()
	to free the dentry when it finishes using it.

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For further information on dentry locking, please refer to the document
Documentation/filesystems/dentry-locking.txt.
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Resources
=========

(Note some of these resources are not up-to-date with the latest kernel
 version.)

Creating Linux virtual filesystems. 2002
    <http://lwn.net/Articles/13325/>

The Linux Virtual File-system Layer by Neil Brown. 1999
    <http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~neilb/oss/linux-commentary/vfs.html>

A tour of the Linux VFS by Michael K. Johnson. 1996
    <http://www.tldp.org/LDP/khg/HyperNews/get/fs/vfstour.html>

A small trail through the Linux kernel by Andries Brouwer. 2001
    <http://www.win.tue.nl/~aeb/linux/vfs/trail.html>