Re: Linux time code

From: john stultz
Date: Wed Aug 16 2006 - 15:53:30 EST

On Wed, 2006-08-16 at 14:26 +0200, Ulrich Windl wrote:
> I've been viewing recent changes to the Linux kernel (specifically to
>, and I felt I'll have to say something:

Hey Ulrich,

If you haven't already (and have the time), please also take a peek at
the current 2.6.18-rc patch as well as -mm, as a number of timekeeping
changes have been made since 2.6.17.x.

> First there's a new routine in kernel/time.c named "set_normalized_timespec()".
> That routine sets nothing besides the actual argument being passed by reference.
> Thus I feel that routine should rather be named "normalize_timespec()" (just to
> save a few bytes. No, not really ;-). Alternatively that thing could be a pure
> ("const") function that returns the normalized timespec. In that case I'd call it
> "normalized_timespec()"...

Sounds reasonable.

> OK, that issue woun't make anybody feel hot I guess, so here's another one:
> The existing routines for measuring time among the various architectures is an
> absolute mess. Well, it always had been, but it didn't become any better, but
> worse it seems.

As you know, myself and others are working on this. Its taken quite a
bit of time to get some of the groundwork in, and cleanups are still
needed, but I think we're on the right track. However, criticism is
welcome, and I'd appreciate your input (I did try to keep you CC'ed on
most of the early discussions, but forgive me as I left you out on some
of the more recent discussions)

> For example there is a POSIX-like sys_clock_gettime() intended to
> server the end-user directly, but there's no counterpart do_clock_gettime() to
> server any in-kernel needs.

Hmmm.. ktime_get(), ktime_get_ts() and ktime_get_real(), provide this
info. Is there something missing here?

I will agree that the code in kernel/time.c, kernel/timer.c,
kernel/posix-timers.c, and kernel/hrtimer.c files could be better
organized so the layered logic is more clear. I am working on this (see
the ntp-move-all-the-ntp-related-code-to-ntpc-fix patch currently in
-mm), but untangling the code without breaking anyone (well, that's the
intent) is a slow process.

> The implementation of clock_getres() is also hardly
> worth it. I once had implemented a routine like this:
> That routine tries to get the typical clock resolution the user is expected to
> see, automatically adjusting to the interpolation method and CPU speed being used.
> I think that's preferrable to just returning 1ns or "tick" or whatever.

Yea. This area could use improvement. The clocksource infrastructure
should better allow us to export the actual hardware resolution.

> Finally I have the personal need for an "unadjusted tick interpolator"
> (preferrably being clocked by the same clock as the timer chip) to estimate the
> frequency error of the system clock (independently from any offset adjustments
> being made).
> For those who might wonder: Yes, that's the code that had been thown out recently:
> NTP PPS calibration.

The NTP PPS code was dropped because there were no in-kernel users of
that interface. But as I've always said, I'd be very happy to see your
PPS work get merged. I know there are a few out-of-tree patches
currently floating around (Udo mailed me awhile back with some links,
but I can't find them at the moment), and I'm sure due to the high level
of activity in this area makes it difficult to keep out of tree patches
up to date. Is there any reason these patches aren't being pushed into

> So summarize: I'd wish for fewer, but more useful routines dealing with time. Some
> modules just don't export useful (and otherwise missing) routines, while other
> useful exported routines have different names for each architecture. A mess...

I agree, and folks are working to clean this up (I've got a
get_persistent_clock patch to try to unify all the different
get_rtc/cmos/boot_time() hooks across the arches coming soon). Again, I
very much welcome your experience, suggestions and patches to this area.


To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at