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Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2015 16:56:51 -0700
From: Andy Lutomirski <>
To:, Alexander Larsson <>
Subject: Re: Using direct socket syscalls on x86_32 where available?

On 07/26/2015 09:59 AM, Rich Felker wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 25, 2015 at 10:54:28AM -0700, Andy Lutomirski wrote:
>> On x86_32, the only way to call socket(2), etc is using socketcall.
>> This is slated to change in Linux 4.3:
>> If userspace adapts by preferring the direct syscalls when available,
>> it'll make it easier for seccomp to filter new userspace programs
>> (and, ideally, eventually disallow socketcall for sandbox-aware code).
>> Would musl be willing to detect these syscalls and use them if available?
>> (Code to do this probably shouldn't be committed until that change
>> lands in Linus' tree, just in case the syscall numbers change in the
>> mean time.)
> My preference would be not to do this, since it seems to be enlarging
> the code and pessimizing normal usage for the sake of a very special
> usage scenario. At the very least there would be at least one extra
> syscall to probe at first usage, and that probe could generate a
> termination on existing seccomp setups. :-p

There will be some tiny performance benefit for newer kernels: it avoids 
a silly indirection that has a switch statement along six stores into 
memory, validation of the userspace address, and then six loads to pull 
the syscall args back out of memory.  It's not a big deal, but the new 
syscalls really will be slightly faster.

> So far we don't probe and
> store results for any fallbacks though; we just do the fallback on
> error every time. This is because all of the existing fallbacks are in
> places where we actually want new functionality a new syscall offers,
> and the old ones are not able to provide it precisely but require poor
> emulation, and in these cases it's expected that the user not be using
> old kernels that can't give correct semantics. But in the case of
> these socket calls there's no semantic difference or reason for us to
> be preferring the 'new' calls. It's just a duplicate API for the same
> thing.

One way to implement it would be to favor the new syscalls but to set 
some variable the first time one of them returns ENOSYS.  Once that 
happens, either all of them could fall back to socketcall or just that 
one syscall could.

Or you could just avoid implementing it and see if anyone complains. 
It's plausible that xdg-app might start requiring the new syscalls 
(although it would presumably not kill you if tried to use socketcall).

Alex, if glibc started using the new syscalls, would you want to require 
them inside xdg-app?


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