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From: Linus Torvalds <>
Newsgroups: fa.linux.kernel
Subject: Re: [GIT PULL] sched/core for v2.6.32
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 22:59:40 UTC
Message-ID: <>

On Sat, 12 Sep 2009, Jesper Juhl wrote:
> [...]
> > Highlights:
> >
> >  - Child-runs-first is now off - i.e. we run parent first.
> >    [ Warning: this might trigger races in user-space. ]
> [...]
> Ouch. Do we dare do that?

We would want to at least try.

There are various reasons why we'd like to run the child first, ranging
from just pure latency (quite often, the child is the one that is
critical) to getting rid of page sharing for COW early thanks to execve

But similarly, there are various reasons to run the parent first, like
just the fact that we already have the state active in the TLB's and

Finally, we've never made any guarantees, because the timeslice for the
parent might be just about to end, so child-first vs parent-first is never
a guarantee, it's always just a preference.

[ And we _have_ had that preference expose user-level bugs. Long long ago
  we hit some problem with child-runs-first and 'bash' being unhappy about
  a really low-cost and quick child process exiting even _before_ bash
  itself had had time to fill in the process tables, and then when the
  SIGCHLD handler ran bash said "I got a SIGCHLD for something I don't
  even know about".

  That was very much a bash bug, but it was a bash bug that forced us to
  do 'parent-runs-first' for a while. So the heuristic can show problems ]

> vfork() is supposed to always run the child first.

vfork() has always run the child first, since the parent won't even be
runnable. The parent will get stuck in


so the "child-runs-first" is just an issue for regular fork or clone, not
vfork. For vfork there is never any question about it.

> Most people I've talked to over the years assume that using fork(), the
> child runs first (yes, I know, that's not guaranteed, but people have come
> to believe that it is so and some may even depend on it).

It really hasn't been that way in Linux. We've done it both ways.


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