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Date: Tue, 5 Apr 2016 11:10:40 -0700
From: Kees Cook <>
To: James Hogan <>
Cc: Ralf Baechle <>, 
	"" <>, 
	Linux MIPS Mailing List <>, Matt Redfearn <>, 
	Aaro Koskinen <>, Masahiro Yamada <>, 
	Alexander Sverdlin <>, LKML <>, 
	Thomas Gleixner <>, David Daney <>, 
	Jaedon Shin <>, Jonas Gorski <>, 
	Paul Burton <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2 00/11] MIPS relocatable kernel & KASLR

On Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 2:09 AM, James Hogan <> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 04, 2016 at 04:56:58PM -0700, Kees Cook wrote:
>> On Mon, Apr 4, 2016 at 4:37 PM, Ralf Baechle <> wrote:
>> > On Mon, Apr 04, 2016 at 12:46:29PM -0700, Kees Cook wrote:
>> >
>> >> This is great! Thanks for working on this! :)
>> >>
>> >> Without actually reading the code yet, I wonder if the x86 and MIPS
>> >> relocs tool could be merged at all? Sounds like it might be more
>> >> difficult though -- the relocation output is different and its storage
>> >> location is different...
>> >>
>> >> > Restrictions:
>> >> > * The new kernel is not allowed to overlap the old kernel, such that
>> >> >   the original kernel can still be booted if relocation fails.
>> >>
>> >> This sounds like physical-only relocation then? Is the virtual offset
>> >> randomized as well (like arm64) or just physical (like x86 currently
>> >> -- though there is a series to fix this).
>> >
>> > On MIPS we normally place the kernel in KSEG0 or XKPHYS which address
>> > segments which are not mapped through the TLB so the difference is
>> > kinda moot.
>> Ah-ha, excellent. Does this mean that MIPS is effectively doing memory
>> segmentation between userspace and kernel space (or some version of
>> x86's SMEP/SMAP or ARM's PXN/PAN)? I don't know much about the MIPS
>> architecture yet.
> User and kernel virtual address spaces don't traditionally overlap, so
> you don't get that sort of protection at the moment.
> MIPS TLBs do have ASIDs though, and kernel mappings are marked global,
> so it could easily reserve an ASID with no mappings, and switch to that
> while in kernel mode. It'd have to keep switching between them when
> reading/writing userland though, as you can't directly access another
> ASID, and I don't think thats a particularly cheap operation, especially
> on cores with hardware page table walkers.

Yeah, it seems that x86 SMAP has some performance problems too. I'd be
curious to see how much of a hit it would be to use ASID switching on

> EVA (enhanced virtual addressing) is a feature present on recent MIPS
> 32-bit i-class and p-class cores (and p6600 too which is 64-bit),
> intended to make better use of 32-bit virtual address space. It can
> actually overlap kernel and virtual address space, requiring special
> instructions for accessing userland mappings, however each segment can't
> have distinct TLB mappings for kernel and user mode (if kernel and user
> view of segment differs, kernel would need to see it unmapped, i.e. a
> window into physical memory). As such its generally better to keep the
> lowest segment visible to both kernel and user, so that kernel NULL
> dereferences can still be caught, which would negate the point of using
> it for security. It is possible to make it work with watchpoints to
> catch NULL dereferences in lowest 4KB, so kernel can't access any user
> address space directly, but thats a bit of a hack really. Also since EVA
> is aimed at making better use of 32-bit address space, it doesn't
> address 64-bit.

Ah, so it couldn't cover a 64-bit userspace range? It seems like it
might work for 32-bit if mmap_min_addr sysctl was used to choose the
size of the low-address shared mapping.

>> What do I need to fill in on these tables for MIPS?
> Both are best addressed using ASID switching in my opinion at the
> moment.

Okay, thanks, I'll make a note.


> Cheers
> James
>> >
>> >> > * Relocation is supported only by multiples of 64k bytes. This
>> >> >   eliminates the need to handle R_MIPS_LO16 relocations as the bottom
>> >> >   16bits will remain the same at the relocated address.
>> >>
>> >> IIUC, that's actually better than x86, which needs to be 2MB aligned.
>> >
>> > On MIPS a key concern was maintaining a reasonable size for the final
>> > kernel image.  The R_MIPS_LO16 relocatio records make a significant
>> > portion of the relocations in a relocatable .o file, so we wanted to
>> > get rid of them.  This results in a relocation granularity of 64kB.
>> > If we were truely, truely stingy we could come up with a relocation format
>> > to save a few more bits but I doubt that'd make any sense.
>> >
>> >> > * In 64 bit kernels, relocation is supported only within the same 4Gb
>> >> >   memory segment as the kernel link address (CONFIG_PHYSICAL_START).
>> >> >   This eliminates the need to handle R_MIPS_HIGHEST and R_MIPS_HIGHER
>> >> >   relocations as the top 32bits will remain the same at the relocated
>> >> >   address.
>> >>
>> >> Interesting. Could the relocation code be updated in the future to
>> >> bump the high addresses too?
>> >
>> > It could but yet again, the idea was to keep the size of the final
>> > generated file under control.  The R_MIPS_HIGHER and R_MIPS_HIGHEST
>> > relocations can be discarded if we constrain the addresses to be in
>> > a single 4GB segment.  Removing this constraint would make a kernel
>> > image much bigger so I suggested to add this restriction at least for
>> > this initial version.
>> Awesome, thanks for the details.
>> -Kees
>> --
>> Kees Cook
>> Chrome OS & Brillo Security

Kees Cook
Chrome OS & Brillo Security

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