Delete a directory, crash the system

David Noel david.i.noel at
Sat Jul 27 15:30:23 UTC 2013

> I'm taking a guess here - the effective link count when it came to
> removing the parent directory was only two and it should have been three
> or more. This gets sanity checked this before proceeding, and panics if
> it is not. Why an effective link count of three? We're talking about the
> parent of the directory you're trying to zap, right? There's the link to
> the directory from its parent, and the '.' link and the ".." link from
> the directory you're trying to remove. There may be more if it contains
> other directories, but there can't be less.
> Anyway - if you only had a link count of just two effective links at the
> start of the delete process it suggests that the link count was messed
> up - either a link never existed or its count was wrong. Should the
> kernel panic? Well it's a situation that can never happen - it could
> simply remove the directory and pretend everything was okay but  guess
> it was decided it was likely to be a symptom of impending disaster.
> Other anomalies return an error.
> In over ten years with FreeBSD systems I can't say I've ever seen this
> "cannot happen" situation arise. I'd guess you had an interrupted (by
> power failure) inode operation at some time which caused the corruption.
> removing a directory is a PITA as it can lead to a race - a context swap
> could create a file it it mid-way through the process.
> Regards, Frank.

Interesting. Thanks for the analysis. I'm not a systems guy (Java,
mostly), so I don't really have the context to make much sense of kgdb
output. What you're saying though makes sense and sounds about right
-- it's a laptop and I've inadvertently run the battery down to
nothing a few times in the past. All the same, it was a very strange
experience. I would not have expected a kernel panic from a simple rm

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