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Date: Thu, 10 Mar 2016 12:16:46 +0100
From: Ingo Molnar <>
To: Rich Felker <>
Cc: Linus Torvalds <>,
	Andy Lutomirski <>,
	the arch/x86 maintainers <>,
	Linux Kernel Mailing List <>,
	Borislav Petkov <>,
	"" <>,
	Andrew Morton <>,
	Thomas Gleixner <>,
	Peter Zijlstra <>
Subject: Re: Re: [RFC PATCH] x86/vdso/32: Add AT_SYSINFO cancellation

* Rich Felker <> wrote:

> [...]
> I believe a new kernel cancellation API with a sticky cancellation flag (rather 
> than a signal), and a flag or'd onto the syscall number to make it cancellable 
> at the call point, could work, but then userspace needs to support fairly 
> different old and new kernel APIs in order to be able to run on old kernels 
> while also taking advantage of new ones, and it's not clear to me that it would 
> actually be worthwhile to do so. I could see doing it for a completely new 
> syscall API, but as a second syscall API for a system that already has one it 
> seems gratuitous. From my perspective the existing approach (checking program 
> counter from signal handler) is very clean and simple. After all it made enough 
> sense that I was able to convince the glibc folks to adopt it.

I concur with your overall analysis, but things get a bit messy once we consider 
AT_SYSINFO which is a non-atomic mix of user-space and kernel-space code. Trying 
to hand cancellation status through that results in extra complexity:

 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(-)

So instead of a sticky cancellation flag, we could introduce a sticky cancellation 

A 'sticky signal' is not cleared from signal_pending() when the signal handler 
executes, but it's automatically blocked so no signal handler recursion occurs.
(A sticky signal could still be cleared via a separate mechanism, by the 
 cancellation cleanup code.)

Such a 'sticky cancellation signal' would, in the racy situation, cause new 
blocking system calls to immediately return with -EINTR. Non-blocking syscalls 
could still be used. (So the cancellation signal handler itself would still have 
access to various fundamental system calls.)

I think this would avoid messy coupling between the kernel's increasingly more 
varied system call entry code and C libraries.

Sticky signals could be requested via a new SA_ flag.

What do you think?



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