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SubjectRe: [PATCH RFC] vfio/mdev: delay uevent after initialization complete
On Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:09:01 +0100
Cornelia Huck <> wrote:

> On Mon, 12 Feb 2018 14:20:57 -0700
> Alex Williamson <> wrote:
> > On Fri, 9 Feb 2018 11:27:16 +0100
> > Cornelia Huck <> wrote:
> >
> > > The registration code first registers the mdev device, and then
> > > proceeds to populate sysfs. An userspace application that listens
> > > for the ADD uevent is therefore likely to look for sysfs entries
> > > that have not yet been created.
> > >
> > > The canonical way to fix this is to use attribute groups that are
> > > registered by the driver core before it sends the ADD uevent; I
> > > unfortunately did not find a way to make this work in this case,
> > > though.
> > >
> > > An alternative approach is to suppress uevents before we register
> > > with the core and generate the ADD uevent ourselves after the
> > > sysfs infrastructure is in place.
> > >
> > > Signed-off-by: Cornelia Huck <>
> > > ---
> > >
> > > This feels like a band-aid, but I can't figure out how to handle creating
> > > attribute groups when there's a callback in the parent involved.
> > >
> > > This should address the issue with libvirt's processing of mdevs raised in
> > >
> > > - although libvirt will still need to deal with older kernels, of course.
> > >
> > > Best to consider this an untested patch :)
> >
> > I agree, this feels like a band-aide. If every device in the kernel
> > needs to suppress udev events until until some key component is added,
> > that suggests that either udev is broken in general or not being used
> > as intended.
> I think udev is working exactly as designed - it's more a problem of
> when the kernel is sending what kind of notification to userspace, and
> the particular issue here is how the code sending the event (driver
> core) and the code assembling part of the user interface (mdev)
> interact.
> > Zongyong submitted a different proposal to fix this
> > here[1]. That proposal seems a bit more sound and has precedence
> > elsewhere in the kernel. What do you think of that approach? We
> > don't need both afaict. Thanks,
> >
> > Alex
> >
> > [1]
> Zongyong's patch is sending an additional CHANGE uevent, and I agree
> that doing both does not make sense. However, I think the CHANGE uevent
> is not quite suitable in this case, and delaying the ADD uevent is
> better.
> [Warning, the following may be a bit rambling.]
> The Linux driver model works under the assumption that any device is
> represented as an in-kernel object that exposes information and knobs
> through sysfs. As long as the device exists, userspace can poke at the
> sysfs entries and retrieve information or configure things.
> The idea of the 'ADD' uevent is basically to let userspace know that
> there is now a new device with its related sysfs entries, and it may
> look at it and configure it. IOW, if I (as a userspace application) get
> the ADD uevent, I expect to be able to look at the device's sysfs
> entries and find all the files/directories that are usually there,
> without having to wait.
> This expectation is broken if a device is first registered with the
> driver core (generating the ADD uevent) and the driver adds sysfs
> attributes later. To fix this, the driver core added a way to specify
> default attribute groups for the device, which are registered by the
> driver core itself before it generates the ADD uevent. Unfortunately, I
> did not see a way to do this here (which does not mean there isn't).
> The alternative was to prevent the driver core from sending the ADD
> uevent and do it from the mdev code when it was ready.
> The 'CHANGE' uevent, on the other hand, tells userspace that something
> has changed for the device (that already existed). I (as a userspace
> application) would expect to see it if, for example, the information
> exposed via sysfs has changed, or maybe even if new, optional, entries
> have appeared and I might want to rescan. With Zongyong's patch,
> userspace gets the CHANGE uevent for something that was already
> expected to be there, and is now _really_ there. It does give userspace
> an indication that it can now work with the device (which certainly
> improves things), but I would prefer to get rid of the too-early uevent
> completely so that userspace does not get notified at all before the
> device is completely present in sysfs.
> So, in short, my patch does 'don't tell userspace until we're really
> done', and Zongyong's patch does 'tell userspace again when we're
> really done'.

This all sounds reasonable, but don't we have this synchronization
problem _everywhere_? I apologize for referencing this bug because it's
not public ( but
the gist of it is that soft-unplugging PCI devices using the remove
entry in sysfs and re-adding with rescan sysfs entry results in libvirt
seeing the ADD uevent before the PCI config attribute is created and it
balks on the device. So at the PCI core we have this same issue and
developers are saying that there's no guarantee that sysfs entries
won't be added and removed at any time in the lifecycle of the device
and it's not the kernel's responsibility to provide that
synchronization. So what are we to do? If this issue exists in a far
more predominant device subsystem than mdev, do we need to reset
developer expectations about what sort of synchronization, if any, the
kernel is intending to provide? Should we agree and document some best
practices around ordering of (or suppressing of) uevents so that we can
consistently cleanup subsystems, or define that such ordering is
officially not guaranteed? Thanks,


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