Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Wed, 9 Mar 2016 12:34:50 +0100
From: Szabolcs Nagy <>
To: Ingo Molnar <>
Cc: Andy Lutomirski <>,,, Borislav Petkov <>,
	"" <>,
	Linus Torvalds <>,
	Andrew Morton <>,
	Thomas Gleixner <>,
	Peter Zijlstra <>
Subject: Re: Re: [RFC PATCH] x86/vdso/32: Add AT_SYSINFO cancellation

* Ingo Molnar <> [2016-03-09 09:56:31 +0100]:
> * Andy Lutomirski <> wrote:
> > musl implements system call cancellation in an unusual but clever way.
> So I'm sceptical about the concept.
> Could someone remind me why cancellation points matter to user-space?

because of standards.

> I know the pthread APIs and semantics that are behind it, I just don't see how it 
> can be truly utilized for any meaningful programmatic property: for example the 
> moment you add any sort of ad-hoc printf() based tracing or any other spontaneous 
> logging IO to your application, you add in a lot of potential cancellation points 
> into various places in your user-space logic ...
> It's _very_ easy to add inadvertent cancellation point to the code in practice, so 
> using the default pthread cancellation model and relying on what is a cancellation 
> point is crazy and very libc dependent in general. POSIX seems to be pretty vague 
> about it as well. So unless you make heavy use of pthread_setcancelstate() to 
> explicitly mark your work atoms, it's a really bad interface to rely on.

if the canceled thread only executes code that expects cancellation then
it should work (code that does not expect cancellation won't have cancellation
cleanup handlers set up and thus cancelling it can cause problems).

> And if you are using pthread_setcancelstate(), instead of relying on calcellation, 
> then you are not really using the built-in cancellation points but have to spike 
> your code with pthread_testcancel(). In that case, why not just use your own 
> explicit 'cancellation' points in a few strategic places - which is mostly just a 
> simple flag really. That's what most worker thread models that I've seen use.

the point of cancellation is to be able to kill a thread that is in a
blocking syscall.  i don't see how a flag helps with that, this is hard
to do without libc help, hence pthread_cancel exists.

> I suspect more complex runtimes like java runtimes couldn't care less, so it's 
> really something that only libc using C/C++ code cares about.

c++ code cannot be cancelled if it uses non-pod objects or c++ threads.
(destructor vs cancellation cleanup semantics is undefined)

this is for posix conforming code.

> > When a thread issues a cancellable syscall, musl issues the syscall
> > through a special thunk that looks roughly like this:
> > 
> > cancellable_syscall:
> > 	test whether a cancel is queued
> > 	jnz cancel_me
> > 	int $0x80
> > end_cancellable_syscall:
> > 
> > If a pthread cancellation signal hits with
> > cancellable_syscall <= EIP < end_cancellable_syscall, then the
> > signal interrupted a cancellation point before the syscall in
> > question started.  If so, it rewrites the calling context to skip
> > the syscall and simulate a -EINTR return.  The caller will detect
> > this simulated -EINTR or an actual -EINTR and handle a possible
> > cancellation event.
> Why is so much complexity added to avoid a ~3 instructions window where 
> calcellation is tested? Cancellation at work atom boundaries is a fundamentally 
> 'polling' model anyway, and signal delivery is asynchronous, with a fundamental 
> IPI delay if it's cross-CPU.

to avoid the race when the thread is cancelled after the test but before
the syscall see

> > This technique doesn't work if int $0x80 is replaced by a call to
> > AT_SYSINFO: the signal handler can no longer tell whether it's
> > interrupting a call to AT_SYSINFO or, if it is, where AT_SYSINFO was
> > called from.
> > 
> > Add minimal helpers so that musl's signal handler can learn the
> > status of a possible pending AT_SYSINFO invocation and, if it hasn't
> > entered the kernel yet, abort it without needing to parse the vdso
> > DWARF unwind data.
> > 
> > Signed-off-by: Andy Lutomirski <>
> > ---
> > 
> > musl people-
> > 
> > Does this solve your AT_SYSINFO cancellation problem?  I'd like to
> > make sure it survives an actual implementation before I commit to the ABI.
> > 
> > x86 people-
> > 
> > Are you okay with this idea?
> > 
> > 
> >  arch/x86/entry/vdso/Makefile                      |   3 +-
> >  arch/x86/entry/vdso/vdso32/cancellation_helpers.c | 116 ++++++++++++++++++++++
> >  arch/x86/entry/vdso/vdso32/           |   2 +
> >  tools/testing/selftests/x86/unwind_vdso.c         |  57 +++++++++--
> >  4 files changed, 171 insertions(+), 7 deletions(-)
> >  create mode 100644 arch/x86/entry/vdso/vdso32/cancellation_helpers.c
> I'd really like to see a cost/benefit analysis here! Some before/after explanation 
> - exactly what is not possible today (in practical terms), what are the practical 
> effects of not being able to do that, and how would the bright future look like?
> Thanks,
> 	Ingo

Powered by blists - more mailing lists

Confused about mailing lists and their use? Read about mailing lists on Wikipedia and check out these guidelines on proper formatting of your messages.