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sys_ftruncate call lasting 17 hours on ext3 filesystem from mutt



Several times recently my "mutt" email program has looped for
hours at a time in the middle of a sys_ftruncate call.  This happens
when I use the "$" command to write changes out to my mailbox.  It
does eventually return from the call and everything seems to have
worked ok.  But in the meantime the CPU is pegged, $MAIL
is locked so I can't receive new mail, and signals to the program
(like kill -9) don't take effect for hours.  Once it was 17 hours,
once 3, etc.

The problem showed up shortly after upgrading from Red Hat 7.1 and
converting the file systems to ext3.  I'm running Red Hat 7.3, kernel
2.4.18-3, mutt-1.2.5.1-1.

Strace didn't help at all, but thanks to a tip from Kevin Fenzi
I learned how to use sysrq to find out where the process was, viz:

 18:03:10 kernel: mutt          R current   1024  8893   7929  (NOTLB)
 18:03:10 kernel: Call Trace: [<c0127061>] truncate_list_pages [kernel] 0x79 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c01271ff>] truncate_inode_pages [kernel] 0x3b 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c0124f2e>] vmtruncate [kernel] 0x96 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c01491f0>] inode_setattr [kernel] 0x24 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<d401f963>] ext3_setattr [ext3] 0x1c3 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<d401d810>] ext3_get_block [ext3] 0x0 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c01281db>] do_generic_file_read [kernel] 0x2c3 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c0149359>] notify_change [kernel] 0x5d 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c012a2aa>] generic_file_write [kernel] 0x5c2 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c01348ce>] do_truncate [kernel] 0x46 
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c0134bd1>] sys_ftruncate [kernel] 0x12d
 18:03:10 kernel: [<c01085f7>] system_call [kernel] 0x33 

I noticed that an fsck hadn't been done for months, so I did one
with this result, indicating some sort of problem with $MAIL:

 13:25:31 fsck: /var:  
 13:25:31 fsck: Truncating orphaned inode 44891 (uid=6265, gid=6265, mode=0100600, size=175526062) 
 13:25:36 fsck: /var has gone 69 days without being checked, check forced. 
 13:25:43 fsck: /var: 1057/104040 files (24.0% non-contiguous), 281356/415768 blocks 

The file in question is large:

  44891 -rw-------    1 neal     neal     175694250 Aug 13 13:50 /var/mail/neal

I haven't seen the problem in the last day, but I've had successful
days in the past also.

I would hope that even in the face of a file system problem, the
kernel shouldn't take so long to do a system call.  Any ideas?

Is there a bug-tracking system (bugzilla?) for ext3 or the kernel?

Thanks,

Neal McBurnett                 http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/
GPG/PGP signed and/or sealed mail encouraged.  Keyid: 2C9EBA60





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