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Completion Variables

Using completion variables is an easy way to synchronize between two tasks in the kernel when one task needs to signal to the other that an event has occurred. One task waits on the completion variable while another task performs some work. When the other task has completed the work, it uses the completion variable to wake up any waiting tasks. If this sounds like a semaphore, you are rightthe idea is much the same. In fact, completion variables merely provide a simple solution to a problem whose answer is otherwise semaphores. For example, the vfork() system call uses completion variables to wake up the parent process when the child process execs or exits.

Completion variables are represented by the struct completion type, which is defined in <linux/completion.h>. A statically created completion variable is created and initialized via


A dynamically created completion variable is initialized via init_completion().

On a given completion variable, the tasks that want to wait call wait_for_completion(). After the event has occurred, calling complete() signals all waiting tasks to wake up. Table 9.7 has a listing of the completion variable methods.

Table 9.7. Completion Variables Methods



init_completion(struct completion *)

Initializes the given dynamically created completion variable

wait_for_completion(struct completion *)

Waits for the given completion variable to be signaled

complete(struct completion *)

Signals any waiting tasks to wake up

For sample usages of completion variables, see kernel/sched.c and kernel/fork.c. A common usage is to have a completion variable dynamically created as a member of a data structure. Kernel code waiting for the initialization of the data structure calls wait_for_completion(). When the initialization is complete, the waiting tasks are awakened via a call to completion().

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