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Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2017 18:36:09 -0800
From: Linus Torvalds <>
To: Patrick McLean <>, Kees Cook <>, 
	Emese Revfy <>
Cc: Al Viro <>, Bruce Fields <>, 
	"Darrick J. Wong" <>, 
	Linux Kernel Mailing List <>, 
	Linux NFS Mailing List <>, stable <>, 
	Thorsten Leemhuis <>, 
	"" <>
Subject: Re: [nfsd4] potentially hardware breaking regression in 4.14-rc and 4.13.11

[ Bringing in the gcc plugin people and the kernel hardening list,
since it now is no longer even remotely looking like a nfsd, vfs or
filesystem issue any more ]

Kees, Emese,
 the whole thread is on lkml, but there's clearly something horribly
wrong with RANDSTRUCT, and it's not new even though it looked that way
for a while.

Patrick seems to trigger it with nfsd, so it might be specific to that.

Alternatively, it might just be that very few people run
RANDSTRUCT-built kernels, or just have been lucky with the seeding.

Sorry for top-posting, but there's not really anything in the email
itself to reply to, other than saying thanks to Patrick for narrowing
it down like this.

It would have been very interesting if it had actually bisected to
something, but it seems that the real issue is just the choice of
seeding for RANDSTRUCT.


On Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 4:27 PM, Patrick McLean <> wrote:
> On 2017-11-10 03:26 PM, Patrick McLean wrote:
>> On 2017-11-10 10:42 AM, Linus Torvalds wrote:
>>> I really don't see anything that looks even half-way suspicious in
>>> that 4.13.8..11 range. But as mentioned, compiler interactions can be
>>> _really_ subtle.
>>> And hey, it can be a real kernel bug too, that just happens to be
>>> exposed by RANDSTRUCT, so a bisect really would be very nice.
>> I am working on bisecting the issue now, but I think I have some more
>> evidence pointing to a compiler issue related to RANDSTRUCT. There are
>> actually 3 issues that we have seen. Sometimes we get the null pointer
>> deref in the initial message, sometimes we get the GPF, and sometimes we
>> see an issue where the NFS clients see all files as root-owned
>> directories. Any given kernel will always see the same issue, but after
>> a "make mrproper" and recompile (with the same .config), the issue will
>> often change. I suspect that all 3 of these problems are actually the
>> same issue manifesting itself in different ways depending on what seed
>> the RANDSTRUCT gcc plugin is using.
> Further update on this, using the same seed for RANDSTRUCT, I have
> reproduced this issue on v4.13.0, so it does not seem to be recently
> introduced. The older kernel apparently only worked for us because we
> were lucky. Generally we always compile new kernels from a fresh tree,
> so they are never using the same seed.
> In case someone wants to play with this, here are some interesting seeds
> (in include/generated/randomize_layout_hash.h):
> Produce a NULL pointer dereference (though I am not sure what the client
> does to produce this).
>     5970d6494d0f4236ec57147a46e700f4f501536236d96f6f68ea223e06a258bc
> All files for nfsd4 clients appear as directories owned as root, no
> matter the real owner (this happens for all clients we have tested):
>     3f158cd1014800ce5eb6c1f532ac64f2357fdb9a684096557d2fbb1d281f325e
> This is the seed that was breaking motherboards (make sure you have a
> way to flash the BIOS with this one):
>     3e32f2d1b4a3dde9f2fd95151386cd1d5bd6167597a0b868f6273aabfc5712dd
> Finally, here is a seed that produces a kernel that does not exhibit any
> problems we are aware of:
>     e8698c12137fcd1dcbff6d1ed97e5d766128447a27ce9f9d61e0cb8c05ad4d3b
>>> Because in the end, compiler bugs are very rare. They are particularly
>>> annoying when they do happen, though, so they loom big in the mind of
>>> people who have had to chase them down.

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