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SubjectRe: [PATCH v4 1/2] kernel.h: Introduce const_max() for VLA removal
On 2018-03-16 00:46, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 4:41 PM, Kees Cook <> wrote:
>> I much prefer explicit typing, but both you and Rasmus mentioned
>> wanting the int/sizeof_t mixing.
> Well, the explicit typing allows that mixing, in that you can just
> have "const_max_t(5,sizeof(x))"
> So I'm ok with that.
> What I'm *not* so much ok with is "const_max(5,sizeof(x))" erroring
> out, or silently causing insane behavior due to hidden subtle type
> casts..

I don't like const_max_t, at least not as the "primary" interface -
forcing the user to pass in a type, or equivalently passing in cast
expressions to a const_max(), can hide errors, e.g. if the -1 is really
SOME_MACRO or some complicated expression that is usually positive, but
that expression always gets cast to size_t because the user was forced to do

const_max_t(size_t, SOME_MACRO, sizeof(foo))

to make the code compile. Not to mention that it's both easier to read
and write if one could just do

const_max(SOME_MACRO, sizeof(foo))

Can we instead do one of the following:

(1) Effectively do the comparison in an infinitely wide signed integer,
i.e. implement

x < 0 && y >= 0 --> y
x >= 0 && y < 0 --> x
otherwise, if both have the same sign (but not necessarily the same
signedness of their types), the type promotions do not alter either's
value, so __builtin_choose_expr(x > y, x, y) will do the right thing

with the resulting thing having the same type as the chosen one of x and
y. [Or having type typeof(x+y), which would just be a cast in the
macro.] This would allow const_max(-1, sizeof(foo)) and give
sizeof(foo), but perhaps that's too magic.

(2) Allow mixed types, but ensure the build fails if one of the values
is not representable in typeof(x+y) (i.e., one value is negative but the
common type is unsigned). That allows the const_max(SOME_MACRO,
sizeof()), but prevents silent failure in case some weird combination of
CONFIG options make SOME_MACRO evaluate to something negative.

The user can always pass in (size_t)-1 explicitly if needed, or cast the
sizeof() to int if that's what makes sense, but that's a case-by-case
thing. I'd really like that the simple case

const_max(16, sizeof(foo))

Just Works. Then if a lot users turn up that do need some casting,
const_max_t can be implemented as a trivial const_max wrapper.


(1) something like __builtin_choose_expr((x >= 0 && y < 0) || \
(x >= 0 && y >= 0 && x > y) || \
(x < 0 && y < 0 && x > y), x, y)

(2) something like

// 1 or build error
#define __check_promotion(t, x) ( 1/(((t)(x) < 0) == ((x) < 0)) )

__builtin_choose_expr(__check_promotion(typeof((x)+(y)), x) && \
__check_promotion(typeof((x)+(y)), y) && \
(x) > (y), x, y)

Not sure how to get a more sensible error message, I'd like this to also
work outside functions.

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