[lkml]   [2018]   [Sep]   [25]   [last100]   RSS Feed
Views: [wrap][no wrap]   [headers]  [forward] 
Messages in this thread
Patch in this message
Subject[PATCH net-next v6 02/23] zinc: introduce minimal cryptography library
Zinc stands for "Zinc Is Neat Crypto" or "Zinc as IN Crypto" or maybe
just "Zx2c4's INsane Cryptolib." It's also short, easy to type, and
plays nicely with the recent trend of naming crypto libraries after
elements. The guiding principle is "don't overdo it". It's less of a
library and more of a directory tree for organizing well-curated direct
implementations of cryptography primitives.

Zinc is a new cryptography API that is much more minimal and lower-level
than the current one. It intends to complement it and provide a basis
upon which the current crypto API might build, as the provider of
software implementations of cryptographic primitives. It is motivated by
three primary observations in crypto API design:

* Highly composable "cipher modes" and related abstractions from
90s cryptographers did not turn out to be as terrific an idea as
hoped, leading to a host of API misuse problems.

* Most programmers are afraid of crypto code, and so prefer to
integrate it into libraries in a highly abstracted manner, so as to
shield themselves from implementation details. Cryptographers, on
the other hand, prefer simple direct implementations, which they're
able to verify for high assurance and optimize in accordance with
their expertise.

* Overly abstracted and flexible cryptography APIs lead to a host of
dangerous problems and performance issues. The kernel is in the
business usually not of coming up with new uses of crypto, but
rather implementing various constructions, which means it essentially
needs a library of primitives, not a highly abstracted enterprise-ready
pluggable system, with a few particular exceptions.

This last observation has seen itself play out several times over and
over again within the kernel:

* The perennial move of actual primitives away from crypto/ and into
lib/, so that users can actually call these functions directly with
no overhead and without lots of allocations, function pointers,
string specifier parsing, and general clunkiness. For example:
sha256, chacha20, siphash, sha1, and so forth live in lib/ rather
than in crypto/. Zinc intends to stop the cluttering of lib/ and
introduce these direct primitives into their proper place, lib/zinc/.

* An abundance of misuse bugs with the present crypto API that have
been very unpleasant to clean up.

* A hesitance to even use cryptography, because of the overhead and
headaches involved in accessing the routines.

Zinc goes in a rather different direction. Rather than providing a
thoroughly designed and abstracted API, Zinc gives you simple functions,
which implement some primitive, or some particular and specific
construction of primitives. It is not dynamic in the least, though one
could imagine implementing a complex dynamic dispatch mechanism (such as
the current crypto API) on top of these basic functions. After all,
dynamic dispatch is usually needed for applications with cipher agility,
such as IPsec, dm-crypt, AF_ALG, and so forth, and the existing crypto
API will continue to play that role. However, Zinc will provide a non-
haphazard way of directly utilizing crypto routines in applications
that do have neither the need nor desire for abstraction and dynamic

It also organizes the implementations in a simple, straight-forward,
and direct manner, making it enjoyable and intuitive to work on.
Rather than moving optimized assembly implementations into arch/, it
keeps them all together in lib/zinc/, making it simple and obvious to
compare and contrast what's happening. This is, notably, exactly what
the lib/raid6/ tree does, and that seems to work out rather well. It's
also the pattern of most successful crypto libraries. The architecture-
specific glue-code is made a part of each translation unit, rather than
being in a separate one, so that generic and architecture-optimized code
are combined at compile-time, and incompatibility branches compiled out by
the optimizer.

All implementations have been extensively tested and fuzzed, and are
selected for their quality, trustworthiness, and performance. Wherever
possible and performant, formally verified implementations are used,
such as those from HACL* [1] and Fiat-Crypto [2]. The routines also take
special care to zero out secrets using memzero_explicit (and future work
is planned to have gcc do this more reliably and performantly with
compiler plugins). The performance of the selected implementations is
state-of-the-art and unrivaled on a broad array of hardware, though of
course we will continue to fine tune these to the hardware demands
needed by kernel contributors. Each implementation also comes with
extensive self-tests and crafted test vectors, pulled from various
places such as Wycheproof [9].

Regularity of function signatures is important, so that users can easily
"guess" the name of the function they want. Though, individual
primitives are oftentimes not trivially interchangeable, having been
designed for different things and requiring different parameters and
semantics, and so the function signatures they provide will directly
reflect the realities of the primitives' usages, rather than hiding it
behind (inevitably leaky) abstractions. Also, in contrast to the current
crypto API, Zinc functions can work on stack buffers, and can be called
with different keys, without requiring allocations or locking.

SIMD is used automatically when available, though some routines may
benefit from either having their SIMD disabled for particular
invocations, or to have the SIMD initialization calls amortized over
several invocations of the function, and so Zinc utilizes function
signatures enabling that in conjunction with the recently introduced

More generally, Zinc provides function signatures that allow just what
is required by the various callers. This isn't to say that users of the
functions will be permitted to pollute the function semantics with weird
particular needs, but we are trying very hard not to overdo it, and that
means looking carefully at what's actually necessary, and doing just that,
and not much more than that. Remember: practicality and cleanliness rather
than over-zealous infrastructure.

Zinc provides also an opening for the best implementers in academia to
contribute their time and effort to the kernel, by being sufficiently
simple and inviting. In discussing this commit with some of the best and
brightest over the last few years, there are many who are eager to
devote rare talent and energy to this effort.

Following the merging of this, I expect for the primitives that
currently exist in lib/ to work their way into lib/zinc/, after intense
scrutiny of each implementation, potentially replacing them with either
formally-verified implementations, or better studied and faster
state-of-the-art implementations.

Also following the merging of this, I expect for the old crypto API
implementations to be ported over to use Zinc for their software-based

As Zinc is simply library code, its config options are un-menued, with
the exception of CONFIG_ZINC_DEBUG, which enables various selftests and


Signed-off-by: Jason A. Donenfeld <>
Cc: Samuel Neves <>
Cc: Andy Lutomirski <>
Cc: Greg KH <>
Cc: Jean-Philippe Aumasson <>
MAINTAINERS | 8 ++++++++
lib/Kconfig | 2 ++
lib/Makefile | 2 ++
lib/zinc/Kconfig | 32 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
lib/zinc/Makefile | 3 +++
5 files changed, 47 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 lib/zinc/Kconfig
create mode 100644 lib/zinc/Makefile

index 4327777dce57..5967c737f3ce 100644
@@ -16170,6 +16170,14 @@ Q:
S: Maintained
F: drivers/media/dvb-frontends/zd1301_demod*

+M: Jason A. Donenfeld <>
+M: Samuel Neves <>
+S: Maintained
+F: lib/zinc/
+F: include/zinc/
M: Dan Streetman <>
diff --git a/lib/Kconfig b/lib/Kconfig
index a3928d4438b5..3e6848269c66 100644
--- a/lib/Kconfig
+++ b/lib/Kconfig
@@ -485,6 +485,8 @@ config GLOB_SELFTEST
module load) by a small amount, so you're welcome to play with
it, but you probably don't need it.

+source "lib/zinc/Kconfig"
# Netlink attribute parsing support is select'ed if needed
diff --git a/lib/Makefile b/lib/Makefile
index ca3f7ebb900d..571d28d3f143 100644
--- a/lib/Makefile
+++ b/lib/Makefile
@@ -214,6 +214,8 @@ obj-$(CONFIG_PERCPU_TEST) += percpu_test.o

obj-$(CONFIG_ASN1) += asn1_decoder.o

+obj-y += zinc/
obj-$(CONFIG_FONT_SUPPORT) += fonts/

obj-$(CONFIG_PRIME_NUMBERS) += prime_numbers.o
diff --git a/lib/zinc/Kconfig b/lib/zinc/Kconfig
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..4e2e59126a67
--- /dev/null
+++ b/lib/zinc/Kconfig
@@ -0,0 +1,32 @@
+config ZINC_DEBUG
+ bool "Zinc cryptography library debugging and self-tests"
+ help
+ This builds a series of self-tests for the Zinc crypto library, which
+ help diagnose any cryptographic algorithm implementation issues that
+ might be at the root cause of potential bugs. It also adds various
+ debugging traps.
+ Unless you're developing and testing cryptographic routines, or are
+ especially paranoid about correctness on your hardware, you may say
+ N here.
+ def_bool y
+ depends on ARM && !64BIT
+config ZINC_ARCH_ARM64
+ def_bool y
+ depends on ARM64 && 64BIT
+config ZINC_ARCH_X86_64
+ def_bool y
+ depends on X86_64 && 64BIT
+ depends on !UML
+ def_bool y
+ depends on MIPS && CPU_MIPS32_R2 && !64BIT
+config ZINC_ARCH_MIPS64
+ def_bool y
+ depends on MIPS && 64BIT
diff --git a/lib/zinc/Makefile b/lib/zinc/Makefile
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..a61c80d676cb
--- /dev/null
+++ b/lib/zinc/Makefile
@@ -0,0 +1,3 @@
+ccflags-y := -O2
+ccflags-y += -D'pr_fmt(fmt)="zinc: " fmt'
 \ /
  Last update: 2018-09-25 16:57    [W:0.364 / U:1.980 seconds]
©2003-2020 Jasper Spaans|hosted at Digital Ocean and TransIP|Read the blog|Advertise on this site