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Subject[PATCH v4 09/12] docs: Add documentation for Symbol Namespaces
Describe using Symbol Namespaces from a perspective of a user. I.e.
module authors or subsystem maintainers.

Signed-off-by: Matthias Maennich <>
Documentation/kbuild/namespaces.rst | 154 +++++++++++++++++++++++
Documentation/kernel-hacking/hacking.rst | 18 +++
2 files changed, 172 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/kbuild/namespaces.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/kbuild/namespaces.rst b/Documentation/kbuild/namespaces.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..982ed7b568ac
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/kbuild/namespaces.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,154 @@
+Symbol Namespaces
+The following document describes how to use Symbol Namespaces to structure the
+export surface of in-kernel symbols exported through the family of
+EXPORT_SYMBOL() macros.
+.. Table of Contents
+ === 1 Introduction
+ === 2 How to define Symbol Namespaces
+ --- 2.1 Using the EXPORT_SYMBOL macros
+ --- 2.2 Using the DEFAULT_SYMBOL_NAMESPACE define
+ === 3 How to use Symbols exported in Namespaces
+ === 4 Loading Modules that use namespaced Symbols
+ === 5 Automatically creating MODULE_IMPORT_NS statements
+1. Introduction
+Symbol Namespaces have been introduced as a means to structure the export
+surface of the in-kernel API. It allows subsystem maintainers to partition
+their exported symbols into separate namespaces. That is useful for
+documentation purposes (think of the SUBSYSTEM_DEBUG namespace) as well as for
+limiting the availability of a set of symbols for use in other parts of the
+kernel. As of today, modules that make use of symbols exported into namespaces,
+are required to import the namespace. Otherwise the kernel will, depending on
+its configuration, reject loading the module or warn about a missing import.
+2. How to define Symbol Namespaces
+Symbols can be exported into namespace using different methods. All of them are
+changing the way EXPORT_SYMBOL and friends are instrumented to create ksymtab
+2.1 Using the EXPORT_SYMBOL macros
+In addition to the macros EXPORT_SYMBOL() and EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL(), that allow
+exporting of kernel symbols to the kernel symbol table, variants of these are
+available to export symbols into a certain namespace: EXPORT_SYMBOL_NS() and
+EXPORT_SYMBOL_NS_GPL(). They take one additional argument: the namespace.
+Please note that due to macro expansion that argument needs to be a
+preprocessor symbol. E.g. to export the symbol `usb_stor_suspend` into the
+namespace `USB_STORAGE`, use::
+ EXPORT_SYMBOL_NS(usb_stor_suspend, USB_STORAGE);
+The corresponding ksymtab entry struct `kernel_symbol` will have the member
+`namespace` set accordingly. A symbol that is exported without a namespace will
+refer to `NULL`. There is no default namespace if none is defined. `modpost`
+and kernel/module.c make use the namespace at build time or module load time,
+2.2 Using the DEFAULT_SYMBOL_NAMESPACE define
+Defining namespaces for all symbols of a subsystem can be very verbose and may
+become hard to maintain. Therefore a default define (DEFAULT_SYMBOL_NAMESPACE)
+is been provided, that, if set, will become the default for all EXPORT_SYMBOL()
+and EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() macro expansions that do not specify a namespace.
+There are multiple ways of specifying this define and it depends on the
+subsystem and the maintainer's preference, which one to use. The first option
+is to define the default namespace in the `Makefile` of the subsystem. E.g. to
+export all symbols defined in usb-common into the namespace USB_COMMON, add a
+line like this to drivers/usb/common/Makefile::
+That will affect all EXPORT_SYMBOL() and EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL() statements. A
+symbol exported with EXPORT_SYMBOL_NS() while this definition is present, will
+still be exported into the namespace that is passed as the namespace argument
+as this argument has preference over a default symbol namespace.
+A second option to define the default namespace is directly in the compilation
+unit as preprocessor statement. The above example would then read::
+within the corresponding compilation unit before any EXPORT_SYMBOL macro is
+3. How to use Symbols exported in Namespaces
+In order to use symbols that are exported into namespaces, kernel modules need
+to explicitly import these namespaces. Otherwise the kernel might reject to
+load the module. The module code is required to use the macro MODULE_IMPORT_NS
+for the namespaces it uses symbols from. E.g. a module using the
+usb_stor_suspend symbol from above, needs to import the namespace USB_STORAGE
+using a statement like::
+This will create a `modinfo` tag in the module for each imported namespace.
+This has the side effect, that the imported namespaces of a module can be
+inspected with modinfo::
+ $ modinfo drivers/usb/storage/ums-karma.ko
+ [...]
+ import_ns: USB_STORAGE
+ [...]
+It is advisable to add the MODULE_IMPORT_NS() statement close to other module
+metadata definitions like MODULE_AUTHOR() or MODULE_LICENSE(). Refer to section
+5. for a way to create missing import statements automatically.
+4. Loading Modules that use namespaced Symbols
+At module loading time (e.g. `insmod`), the kernel will check each symbol
+referenced from the module for its availability and whether the namespace it
+might be exported to has been imported by the module. The default behaviour of
+the kernel is to reject loading modules that don't specify sufficient imports.
+An error will be logged and loading will be failed with EINVAL. In order to
+allow loading of modules that don't satisfy this precondition, a configuration
+option is available: Setting MODULE_ALLOW_MISSING_NAMESPACE_IMPORTS=y will
+enable loading regardless, but will emit a warning.
+5. Automatically creating MODULE_IMPORT_NS statements
+Missing namespaces imports can easily be detected at build time. In fact,
+modpost will emit a warning if a module uses a symbol from a namespace
+without importing it.
+MODULE_IMPORT_NS() statements will usually be added at a definite location
+(along with other module meta data). To make the life of module authors (and
+subsystem maintainers) easier, a script and make target is available to fixup
+missing imports. Fixing missing imports can be done with::
+ $ make nsdeps
+A typical scenario for module authors would be::
+ - write code that depends on a symbol from a not imported namespace
+ - `make`
+ - notice the warning of modpost telling about a missing import
+ - run `make nsdeps` to add the import to the correct code location
+For subsystem maintainers introducing a namespace, the steps are very similar.
+Again, `make nsdeps` will eventually add the missing namespace imports for
+in-tree modules::
+ - move or add symbols to a namespace (e.g. with EXPORT_SYMBOL_NS())
+ - `make` (preferably with an allmodconfig to cover all in-kernel
+ modules)
+ - notice the warning of modpost telling about a missing import
+ - run `make nsdeps` to add the import to the correct code location
diff --git a/Documentation/kernel-hacking/hacking.rst b/Documentation/kernel-hacking/hacking.rst
index 5891a701a159..a3ddb213a5e1 100644
--- a/Documentation/kernel-hacking/hacking.rst
+++ b/Documentation/kernel-hacking/hacking.rst
@@ -594,6 +594,24 @@ internal implementation issue, and not really an interface. Some
maintainers and developers may however require EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL()
when adding any new APIs or functionality.

+Defined in ``include/linux/export.h``
+This is the variant of `EXPORT_SYMBOL()` that allows specifying a symbol
+namespace. Symbol Namespaces are documented in
+Defined in ``include/linux/export.h``
+This is the variant of `EXPORT_SYMBOL_GPL()` that allows specifying a symbol
+namespace. Symbol Namespaces are documented in
Routines and Conventions

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