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SubjectRe: [RFC PATCH net-next 4/4] net: wwan: Add Qualcomm BAM-DMUX WWAN network driver
Hello Aleksander,

On Mon, Jul 26, 2021 at 11:11 AM Aleksander Morgado
<aleksander@aleksander.es> wrote:
>> But what if we implement the QMI multiplexing management part in the
>> kernel? This way the kernel will take care about modem-to-host
>> communication protocols and interfaces, and provides userspace with a
>> single WWAN device (possibly with multiple network and network
>> management interfaces).
>>
>> I do not propose to fully implement QMI protocol inside the kernel,
>> but implement only a mux management part, while passing all other
>> messages between a "modem" and a userspace software as-is.
>>
>> What pros and cons of such a design do you see?
>
> The original GobiNet driver already provided some QMI protocol
> implementation in the driver itself. In addition to initial device
> setup as you suggest, it also allowed userspace applications to
> allocate and release QMI clients for the different services that could
> be used independently by different processes. Not going to say that
> was the wrong way to do it, but the implementation is definitely not
> simple. The decision taken in qmi_wwan to make the driver as simple as
> possible and leave all the QMI management to userspace was quite an
> important one; it made the driver extremely simple, leaving all the
> complexity of managing the protocol to userspace, and while it had
> some initial drawbacks (e.g. only one process could talk QMI at a
> time) the userspace tools have evolved to avoid them (e.g. the
> qmi-proxy).
>
> I wrote some time ago about this, maybe it's still relevant today:
> Blogpost https://sigquit.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/qmiwwan-or-gobinet/,
> Article in PDF https://aleksander.es/data/Qualcomm%20Gobi%20devices%20on%20Linux.pdf
>
> Making the driver talk QMI just for device setup would require the
> kernel to know how the QMI protocol works, how QMI client allocations
> and releases are done, how errors are reported, how is the format of
> the requests and responses involved; it would require the kernel to
> wait until the QMI protocol endpoint in the modem is capable of
> returning QMI responses (this could be up to 20 or 30 secs after the
> device is available in the bus), it would require to have possibly
> some specific rules on how the QMI clients are managed after a
> suspend/resume operation. It would also require to sync the access to
> the CTL service, which is the one running QMI service allocations and
> releases, so that both kernel and userspace can perform operations
> with that service at the same time. It would need to know how
> different QMI capable devices behave, because not all devices support
> the same services, and some don't even support the WDA service that
> would be the one needed to setup data aggregation. There is definitely
> some overlap on what the kernel could do and what userspace could do,
> and I'd say that we have much more flexibility in userspace to do all
> this leaving all the complexity out of the kernel driver.
>
> ModemManager already provides a unified API to e.g. setup multiplexed
> data sessions, regardless of what the underlying kernel implementation
> is (qmi_wwan only, qmi_wwan+rmnet, ipa+rmnet, bam-dmux, cdc_mbim...) .
> The logic doing all that is extremely complex and possibly full of
> errors, I would definitely not want to have all that logic in the
> kernel itself, let the errors be in userspace! Unifying stuff in the
> kernel is a good idea, but if you ask me, it should be done in a way
> that is as simple as possible, leaving complexity to userspace, even
> if that means that userspace still needs to know what type of device
> we have behind the wwan subsystem, because userspace will anyway need
> to know all that.

Ouch! All these QMI internals are like a can of worms. Each time I
start thinking that I learned something I face another complexity.
Many thanks for your detailed reply and for your blogpost, for me it
was quite helpful for understanding to see a side by side comparison
of approaches!

The argument for keeping drivers minimalistic to keep the system
stable sounds reasonable. But I am still feeling uncomfortable when a
userspace software manages a device at such a low level. Maybe it is a
matter of taste, or maybe I still do not realize the whole complexity.
Anyway, in the context of your clarification, I should be more careful
in the future with calls to implement QMI in the kernel :)

--
Sergey

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