path: root/Documentation/ioctl
diff options
authorMichael Ellerman <mpe@ellerman.id.au>2014-08-06 06:32:17 (GMT)
committerLinus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org>2014-08-09 16:13:40 (GMT)
commitefe4a772215869e780e69d0037dca50e34aee6a7 (patch)
tree6538ee03d03a4bc15b5dbb104688b9e35309c819 /Documentation/ioctl
parentc309bfa9b481e7dbd3e1ab819271bf3009f44859 (diff)
Documentation: add How to avoid botching up ioctls
I pointed some folks at this and they wondered why it wasn't in the kernel Documentation directory. So now it is. Signed-off-by: Daniel Vetter <daniel.vetter@ffwll.ch> Signed-off-by: Michael Ellerman <mpe@ellerman.id.au> Signed-off-by: Randy Dunlap <rdunlap@infradead.org> Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <torvalds@linux-foundation.org>
Diffstat (limited to 'Documentation/ioctl')
2 files changed, 221 insertions, 0 deletions
diff --git a/Documentation/ioctl/00-INDEX b/Documentation/ioctl/00-INDEX
index d2fe4d4..c1a9257 100644
--- a/Documentation/ioctl/00-INDEX
+++ b/Documentation/ioctl/00-INDEX
@@ -1,5 +1,7 @@
- this file
+ - how to avoid botching up ioctls
- summary of CDROM ioctl calls
diff --git a/Documentation/ioctl/botching-up-ioctls.txt b/Documentation/ioctl/botching-up-ioctls.txt
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..45fe78c
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/ioctl/botching-up-ioctls.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,219 @@
+(How to avoid) Botching up ioctls
+From: http://blog.ffwll.ch/2013/11/botching-up-ioctls.html
+By: Daniel Vetter, Copyright © 2013 Intel Corporation
+One clear insight kernel graphics hackers gained in the past few years is that
+trying to come up with a unified interface to manage the execution units and
+memory on completely different GPUs is a futile effort. So nowadays every
+driver has its own set of ioctls to allocate memory and submit work to the GPU.
+Which is nice, since there's no more insanity in the form of fake-generic, but
+actually only used once interfaces. But the clear downside is that there's much
+more potential to screw things up.
+To avoid repeating all the same mistakes again I've written up some of the
+lessons learned while botching the job for the drm/i915 driver. Most of these
+only cover technicalities and not the big-picture issues like what the command
+submission ioctl exactly should look like. Learning these lessons is probably
+something every GPU driver has to do on its own.
+First the prerequisites. Without these you have already failed, because you
+will need to add a a 32-bit compat layer:
+ * Only use fixed sized integers. To avoid conflicts with typedefs in userspace
+ the kernel has special types like __u32, __s64. Use them.
+ * Align everything to the natural size and use explicit padding. 32-bit
+ platforms don't necessarily align 64-bit values to 64-bit boundaries, but
+ 64-bit platforms do. So we always need padding to the natural size to get
+ this right.
+ * Pad the entire struct to a multiple of 64-bits - the structure size will
+ otherwise differ on 32-bit versus 64-bit. Having a different structure size
+ hurts when passing arrays of structures to the kernel, or if the kernel
+ checks the structure size, which e.g. the drm core does.
+ * Pointers are __u64, cast from/to a uintprt_t on the userspace side and
+ from/to a void __user * in the kernel. Try really hard not to delay this
+ conversion or worse, fiddle the raw __u64 through your code since that
+ diminishes the checking tools like sparse can provide.
+With the joys of writing a compat layer avoided we can take a look at the basic
+fumbles. Neglecting these will make backward and forward compatibility a real
+pain. And since getting things wrong on the first attempt is guaranteed you
+will have a second iteration or at least an extension for any given interface.
+ * Have a clear way for userspace to figure out whether your new ioctl or ioctl
+ extension is supported on a given kernel. If you can't rely on old kernels
+ rejecting the new flags/modes or ioctls (since doing that was botched in the
+ past) then you need a driver feature flag or revision number somewhere.
+ * Have a plan for extending ioctls with new flags or new fields at the end of
+ the structure. The drm core checks the passed-in size for each ioctl call
+ and zero-extends any mismatches between kernel and userspace. That helps,
+ but isn't a complete solution since newer userspace on older kernels won't
+ notice that the newly added fields at the end get ignored. So this still
+ needs a new driver feature flags.
+ * Check all unused fields and flags and all the padding for whether it's 0,
+ and reject the ioctl if that's not the case. Otherwise your nice plan for
+ future extensions is going right down the gutters since someone will submit
+ an ioctl struct with random stack garbage in the yet unused parts. Which
+ then bakes in the ABI that those fields can never be used for anything else
+ but garbage.
+ * Have simple testcases for all of the above.
+Fun with Error Paths
+Nowadays we don't have any excuse left any more for drm drivers being neat
+little root exploits. This means we both need full input validation and solid
+error handling paths - GPUs will die eventually in the oddmost corner cases
+ * The ioctl must check for array overflows. Also it needs to check for
+ over/underflows and clamping issues of integer values in general. The usual
+ example is sprite positioning values fed directly into the hardware with the
+ hardware just having 12 bits or so. Works nicely until some odd display
+ server doesn't bother with clamping itself and the cursor wraps around the
+ screen.
+ * Have simple testcases for every input validation failure case in your ioctl.
+ Check that the error code matches your expectations. And finally make sure
+ that you only test for one single error path in each subtest by submitting
+ otherwise perfectly valid data. Without this an earlier check might reject
+ the ioctl already and shadow the codepath you actually want to test, hiding
+ bugs and regressions.
+ * Make all your ioctls restartable. First X really loves signals and second
+ this will allow you to test 90% of all error handling paths by just
+ interrupting your main test suite constantly with signals. Thanks to X's
+ love for signal you'll get an excellent base coverage of all your error
+ paths pretty much for free for graphics drivers. Also, be consistent with
+ how you handle ioctl restarting - e.g. drm has a tiny drmIoctl helper in its
+ userspace library. The i915 driver botched this with the set_tiling ioctl,
+ now we're stuck forever with some arcane semantics in both the kernel and
+ userspace.
+ * If you can't make a given codepath restartable make a stuck task at least
+ killable. GPUs just die and your users won't like you more if you hang their
+ entire box (by means of an unkillable X process). If the state recovery is
+ still too tricky have a timeout or hangcheck safety net as a last-ditch
+ effort in case the hardware has gone bananas.
+ * Have testcases for the really tricky corner cases in your error recovery code
+ - it's way too easy to create a deadlock between your hangcheck code and
+ waiters.
+Time, Waiting and Missing it
+GPUs do most everything asynchronously, so we have a need to time operations and
+wait for oustanding ones. This is really tricky business; at the moment none of
+the ioctls supported by the drm/i915 get this fully right, which means there's
+still tons more lessons to learn here.
+ * Use CLOCK_MONOTONIC as your reference time, always. It's what alsa, drm and
+ v4l use by default nowadays. But let userspace know which timestamps are
+ derived from different clock domains like your main system clock (provided
+ by the kernel) or some independent hardware counter somewhere else. Clocks
+ will mismatch if you look close enough, but if performance measuring tools
+ have this information they can at least compensate. If your userspace can
+ get at the raw values of some clocks (e.g. through in-command-stream
+ performance counter sampling instructions) consider exposing those also.
+ * Use __s64 seconds plus __u64 nanoseconds to specify time. It's not the most
+ convenient time specification, but it's mostly the standard.
+ * Check that input time values are normalized and reject them if not. Note
+ that the kernel native struct ktime has a signed integer for both seconds
+ and nanoseconds, so beware here.
+ * For timeouts, use absolute times. If you're a good fellow and made your
+ ioctl restartable relative timeouts tend to be too coarse and can
+ indefinitely extend your wait time due to rounding on each restart.
+ Especially if your reference clock is something really slow like the display
+ frame counter. With a spec laywer hat on this isn't a bug since timeouts can
+ always be extended - but users will surely hate you if their neat animations
+ starts to stutter due to this.
+ * Consider ditching any synchronous wait ioctls with timeouts and just deliver
+ an asynchronous event on a pollable file descriptor. It fits much better
+ into event driven applications' main loop.
+ * Have testcases for corner-cases, especially whether the return values for
+ already-completed events, successful waits and timed-out waits are all sane
+ and suiting to your needs.
+Leaking Resources, Not
+A full-blown drm driver essentially implements a little OS, but specialized to
+the given GPU platforms. This means a driver needs to expose tons of handles
+for different objects and other resources to userspace. Doing that right
+entails its own little set of pitfalls:
+ * Always attach the lifetime of your dynamically created resources to the
+ lifetime of a file descriptor. Consider using a 1:1 mapping if your resource
+ needs to be shared across processes - fd-passing over unix domain sockets
+ also simplifies lifetime management for userspace.
+ * Always have O_CLOEXEC support.
+ * Ensure that you have sufficient insulation between different clients. By
+ default pick a private per-fd namespace which forces any sharing to be done
+ explictly. Only go with a more global per-device namespace if the objects
+ are truly device-unique. One counterexample in the drm modeset interfaces is
+ that the per-device modeset objects like connectors share a namespace with
+ framebuffer objects, which mostly are not shared at all. A separate
+ namespace, private by default, for framebuffers would have been more
+ suitable.
+ * Think about uniqueness requirements for userspace handles. E.g. for most drm
+ drivers it's a userspace bug to submit the same object twice in the same
+ command submission ioctl. But then if objects are shareable userspace needs
+ to know whether it has seen an imported object from a different process
+ already or not. I haven't tried this myself yet due to lack of a new class
+ of objects, but consider using inode numbers on your shared file descriptors
+ as unique identifiers - it's how real files are told apart, too.
+ Unfortunately this requires a full-blown virtual filesystem in the kernel.
+Last, but not Least
+Not every problem needs a new ioctl:
+ * Think hard whether you really want a driver-private interface. Of course
+ it's much quicker to push a driver-private interface than engaging in
+ lengthy discussions for a more generic solution. And occasionally doing a
+ private interface to spearhead a new concept is what's required. But in the
+ end, once the generic interface comes around you'll end up maintainer two
+ interfaces. Indefinitely.
+ * Consider other interfaces than ioctls. A sysfs attribute is much better for
+ per-device settings, or for child objects with fairly static lifetimes (like
+ output connectors in drm with all the detection override attributes). Or
+ maybe only your testsuite needs this interface, and then debugfs with its
+ disclaimer of not having a stable ABI would be better.
+Finally, the name of the game is to get it right on the first attempt, since if
+your driver proves popular and your hardware platforms long-lived then you'll
+be stuck with a given ioctl essentially forever. You can try to deprecate
+horrible ioctls on newer iterations of your hardware, but generally it takes
+years to accomplish this. And then again years until the last user able to
+complain about regressions disappears, too.

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