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SubjectRe: [PATCH v7 2/5] of: change overlay apply input data from unflattened to FDT
On 04/25/18 11:56, Frank Rowand wrote:
> On 04/24/18 22:22, Jan Kiszka wrote:
>> On 2018-04-24 23:15, Frank Rowand wrote:
>>> On 04/23/18 22:29, Jan Kiszka wrote:
>>>> On 2018-04-24 00:38, Frank Rowand wrote:
>>>>> Hi Jan,
>>>>> + Alan Tull for fpga perspective
>>>>> On 04/22/18 03:30, Jan Kiszka wrote:
>>>>>> On 2018-04-11 07:42, Jan Kiszka wrote:
>>>>>>> On 2018-04-05 23:12, Rob Herring wrote:
>>>>>>>> On Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 2:28 PM, Frank Rowand <> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> On 04/05/18 12:13, Jan Kiszka wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> On 2018-04-05 20:59, Frank Rowand wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>> Hi Jan,
>>>>>>>>>>> On 04/04/18 15:35, Jan Kiszka wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>> Hi Frank,
>>>>>>>>>>>> On 2018-03-04 01:17, wrote:
>>>>>>>>>>>>> From: Frank Rowand <>
>>>>>>>>>>>>> Move duplicating and unflattening of an overlay flattened devicetree
>>>>>>>>>>>>> (FDT) into the overlay application code. To accomplish this,
>>>>>>>>>>>>> of_overlay_apply() is replaced by of_overlay_fdt_apply().
>>>>>>>>>>>>> The copy of the FDT (aka "duplicate FDT") now belongs to devicetree
>>>>>>>>>>>>> code, which is thus responsible for freeing the duplicate FDT. The
>>>>>>>>>>>>> caller of of_overlay_fdt_apply() remains responsible for freeing the
>>>>>>>>>>>>> original FDT.
>>>>>>>>>>>>> The unflattened devicetree now belongs to devicetree code, which is
>>>>>>>>>>>>> thus responsible for freeing the unflattened devicetree.
>>>>>>>>>>>>> These ownership changes prevent early freeing of the duplicated FDT
>>>>>>>>>>>>> or the unflattened devicetree, which could result in use after free
>>>>>>>>>>>>> errors.
>>>>>>>>>>>>> of_overlay_fdt_apply() is a private function for the anticipated
>>>>>>>>>>>>> overlay loader.
>>>>>>>>>>>> We are using of_fdt_unflatten_tree + of_overlay_apply in the
>>>>>>>>>>>> (out-of-tree) Jailhouse loader driver in order to register a virtual
>>>>>>>>>>>> device during hypervisor activation with Linux. The DT overlay is
>>>>>>>>>>>> created from a a template but modified prior to application to account
>>>>>>>>>>>> for runtime-specific parameters. See [1] for the current implementation.
>>>>>>>>>>>> I'm now wondering how to model that scenario best with the new API.
>>>>>>>>>>>> Given that the loader lost ownership of the unflattened tree but the
>>>>>>>>>>>> modification API exist only for the that DT state, I'm not yet seeing a
>>>>>>>>>>>> clear solution. Should we apply the template in disabled form (status =
>>>>>>>>>>>> "disabled"), modify it, and then activate it while it is already applied?
>>>>>>>>>>> Thank you for the pointer to the driver - that makes it much easier to
>>>>>>>>>>> understand the use case and consider solutions.
>>>>>>>>>>> If you can make the changes directly on the FDT instead of on the
>>>>>>>>>>> expanded devicetree, then you could move to the new API.
>>>>>>>>>> Are there some examples/references on how to edit FDTs in-place in the
>>>>>>>>>> kernel? I'd like to avoid writing the n-th FDT parser/generator.
>>>>>>>>> I don't know of any existing in-kernel edits of the FDT (but they might
>>>>>>>>> exist). The functions to access an FDT are in libfdt, which is in
>>>>>>>>> scripts/dtc/libfdt/.
>>>>>>>> Let's please not go down that route of doing FDT modifications. There
>>>>>>>> is little reason to other than for early boot changes. And it is much
>>>>>>>> easier to work on unflattened trees.
>>>>>>> I just briefly looked into libfdt, and it would have meant building it
>>>>>>> into the module as there are no library functions exported by the kernel
>>>>>>> either. Another reason to drop that.
>>>>>>> What's apparently working now is the pattern I initially suggested:
>>>>>>> Register template with status = "disabled" as overlay, then prepare and
>>>>>>> apply changeset that contains all needed modifications and sets the
>>>>>>> status to "ok". I might be leaking additional resources, but to find
>>>>>>> that out, I will now finally have to resolve clean unbinding of the
>>>>>>> generic PCI host controller [1] first.
>>>>>> static void free_overlay_changeset(struct overlay_changeset *ovcs)
>>>>>> {
>>>>>> [...]
>>>>>> /*
>>>>>> * TODO
>>>>>> *
>>>>>> * would like to: kfree(ovcs->overlay_tree);
>>>>>> * but can not since drivers may have pointers into this data
>>>>>> *
>>>>>> * would like to: kfree(ovcs->fdt);
>>>>>> * but can not since drivers may have pointers into this data
>>>>>> */
>>>>>> kfree(ovcs);
>>>>>> }
>>>>>> What's this? I have kmemleak now jumping at me over this. Who is suppose
>>>>>> to plug these leaks? The caller of of_overlay_fdt_apply has no pointers
>>>>>> to those objects. I would say that's a regression of the new API.
>>>>> The problem already existed but it was hidden. We have never been able to
>>>>> kfree() these object because we do not know if there are any pointers into
>>>>> these objects. The new API makes the problem visible to kmemleak.
>>>> My old code didn't have the problem because there was no one steeling
>>>> pointers to my overlay, and I was able to safely release all the
>>>> resources that I or the core on my behalf allocated. In fact, I recently
>>>> even dropped the duplication the fdt prior to unflattening it because I
>>>> got its lifecycle under control (and both kmemleak as well as kasan
>>>> confirmed this). I still consider this intentional leak a regression of
>>>> the new API.
>>> The API has to work for any user, not just your clean code.
>> Please point us to code that does have a real problem. Is there any nice
>> vendor tree, in addition to the known users? Or are we only speculating
>> about how people might be (mis)using the API?
> No, I will not even attempt to find such code.
> The underlying problem is that the devicetree access API returns pointers
> into the devicetree. And we have no way of knowing whether any driver or
> subsystem has a live pointer into the overlay data in the devicetree when
> we remove an overlay. The devicetree access API did not anticipate and
> account for overlays. As overlay related code has been added, this is an
> issue that has not yet been fixed.
>>>>> The reason that we do not know if there are any pointers into these objects
>>>>> is that devicetree access APIs return pointers into the devicetree internal
>>>>> data structures (that is, into the overlay unflattened devicetree). If we
>>>>> want to be able to do the kfree()s, we could change the devicetree access
>>>>> APIs.
>>>>> The reason that pointers into the overlay flattened tree (ovcs->fdt) are
>>>>> also exposed is that the overlay unflattened devicetree property values
>>>>> are pointers into the overlay fdt.
>>>>> ** This paragraph becomes academic (and not needed) if the fix in the next
>>>>> paragraph can be implemented. **
>>>>> I _think_ that the fdt issue __for overlays__ can be fixed somewhat easily.
>>>>> (I would want to read through the code again to make sure I'm not missing
>>>>> any issues.) If the of_fdt_unflatten_tree() called by of_overlay_fdt_apply()
>>>>> was modified so that property values were copied into newly allocated memory
>>>>> and the live tree property pointers were set to the copy instead of to
>>>>> the value in the fdt, then I _think_ the fdt could be freed in
>>>>> of_overlay_fdt_apply() after calling of_overlay_apply(). The code that
>>>> I don't see yet how more duplicating of objects would help. Then we
>>>> would not leak the fdt or the unflattened tree on overlay destruction
>>>> but that duplicates, no?
>>> Yes, we would leak the duplicates. That is exactly what the existing
>>> overlay remove code does. My long term goal is to remove that leakage.
>>> But that leakage can not be resolved until we can guarantee that there
>>> are no pointers held to those duplicates.
>>> I don't like adding this additional copy - I would much prefer to change
>>> the overlay notify code as proposed below.
>> Replacing one leak with another is no solution.
> I agree. I do not see it as a viable solution.
>> And if it's additionally
>> enforcing an API change, I would call it counterproductive.
>>>>> frees a devicetree would also have to be aware of this change -- I'm not
>>>>> sure if that leads to ugly complications or if it is easy. The other
>>>>> question to consider is whether to make the same change to
>>>>> of_fdt_unflatten_tree() when it is called in early boot to unflatten
>>>>> the base devicetree. Doing so would increase the memory usage of the
>>>>> live tree (we would not be able to free the base fdt after unflattening
>>>>> it because we make the fdt visible in /sys/firmware/fdt -- though
>>>>> _maybe_ that could be conditioned on CONFIG_KEXEC).
>>>>> But all of the complexity of that fix is _only_ because of_overlay_apply()
>>>>> and of_overlay_remove() call overlay_notify(), passing in the overlay
>>>>> unflattened devicetree (which has pointers into the overlay fdt). Pointers
>>>>> into the overlay unflattened devicetree are then passed to the notifiers.
>>>>> (Again, I may be missing some other place that the overlay unflattened
>>>>> devicetree is made visible to other code -- a more thorough reading of
>>>>> the code is needed.) If the notifiers could be modified to accept the
>>>>> changeset list instead of of pointers to the fragments in the overlay
>>>>> unflattened devicetree then there would be no possibility of the notifiers
>>>>> keeping a pointer into the overlay fdt. I do not know if this is a
>>>> But then again the convention has to be that those changeset pointers
>>>> must not be kept - because the changeset is history after of_overlay_remove.
>>> I don't trust convention. The result is fragile code.
>> Look, we are all programming in C here. There is no implicit reference
>> counting, no garbage collecting, not strong typing, you-name-it. That
>> doesn't leave you with many sharper weapons than well documented
>> conventions.
> Nope. We can (hopefully) modify the devicetree access API so that it
> does not return pointers into the devicetree. For property values,
> this is "easy", though at a cost. Where the API currently returns
> a pointer to a property (or property value), copy that data into
> newly allocated memory and return a pointer to that newly allocated

Or the data could be copied to memory designated by a pointer that the
caller passed in. I was not intending this paragraph to be an actual
thought out design for an API, it is just an attempt to describe what
needs to change.

> memory -- the caller is now responsible for the new memory and there
> is no stray pointer into the devicetree. One other place that pointers
> into the devicetree are exposed are the tree traversal APIs. In theory
> it should be possible to create an API that uses opaque "iterators"
> (I'm probably mis-using that word) so that location in the tree while
> traversing is not exposed in the form of a pointer into the devicetree.
> -Frank
>> I'm rather concerned that you are over-designing an API that, due to its
>> nature, cannot be made foolproof.
>>>>> practical change for the notifiers -- there are no callers of
>>>>> of_overlay_notifier_register() in the mainline kernel source. My
>>>>> recollection is that the overlay notifiers were added for the fpga
>>>>> subsystem.
>>>> We have drivers/fpga/of-fpga-region.c in-tree, and that does not seem to
>>> Thanks for finding that. For some reason my 'git grep' did not find
>>> that. (I'll blame fat fingers or something...)
>>>> store any pointers to objects, rather consumes them in-place. And I
>>>> would consider it fair to impose such a limitation on the notifier
>>>> interface.
>>> How do you enforce that limitation?
>> Primarily, code review. Of course, we can't help out-of-tree adventurers
>> this way but, well, they prefer to travel alone anyway.
>> And then there are also tools like kasan that can be very helpful
>> revealing object lifecycle issues early.
>> Jan
>>>>> Why is overlay_notify() the only issue related to unknown users having
>>>>> pointers into the overlay fdt? The answer is that the overlay code
>>>>> does not directly expose the overlay unflattened devicetree (and thus
>>>>> indirectly the overlay fdt) to the live devicetree -- when the
>>>>> overlay code creates the overlay changeset, it copies from the
>>>>> overlay unflattened devicetree and overlay fdt and only exposes
>>>>> pointers to the copies.
>>>>> And hopefully the issues with the overlay unflattened devicetree can
>>>>> be resolved in the same way as for the overlay fdt.
>>>> As noted above, I don't see there is a technical solution to this issue
>>>> but it's rather a matter of convention: no overlay notifier callback is
>>>> allowed to keep references to the passed tree content (unless it
>>>> reference-counts some tree nodes) beyond the execution of the callback.
>>>> With that in place, we can safely drop the backing memory IMHO.
>>>> Jan
>>>> .

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