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SubjectRe: [lkcd-devel] Re: What's left over.
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On 9 Nov 2002, Eric W. Biederman wrote:

| There are two cases I am seeing users wanting.
| 1) Load a new kernel on panic.
| - Extra care must be taken so what broke the first kernel does
| not break this one, and so that the shards of the old kernel
| do not break it.
| - Care must be taken so that loading the second kernel does not
| erase valuable data that is desirable to place in a crash dump.
| - This kernel cannot live at the same address as the old one, (at
| least not initially).

Conceptually we would like a new kernel on panic, although
I doubt that it's normally safe to "load a new kernel on panic."
Or maybe it depends on the definition of "load."

What I'm trying to say is that I think the new kernel must
already be loaded when the panic happens.
Is that what you describe later (below)?

| 2) Load a new kernel under normal operating conditions.
| And when you have a normal user space that boils down to:
| - Acquire the kernel you are going to boot.
| - Run the user space shutdown scripts, so the system is in
| a clean state.
| - Execute the new kernel.
| - The normal case is that the newly loaded kernel will live at the
| same physical location where the current kernel lives.
| Currently my code handles starting a new kernel under normal operating
| conditions. There are currently two ways I can implement a clean user
| space shutdown with out needing locked buffers in the kernel until the
| very last moment.
| Method 1 (This works today with my sample user space):
| - copy the kernel to /newkernel
| - init 6
| - if [ -r /newkernel ]; then
| /sbin/kexec /newkernel
| else
| /sbin/reboot
| fi
| - /sbin/kexec reads in /newkernel
| - /newkernel is parsed to figure out how it should be loaded
| - sys_kexec is called to copy the kernel from user space anonymous
| memory to temporary kernel buffers.
| Method 2 (For people with read only roots):
| - /sbin/delayed_kexec /path/to/new/kernel
| - Read in the /path/to/new/kernel into anonymous pages
| - Parse it and figure out how it should be loaded
| - Run the shutdown scripts from /etc/rc6.d/
| - Call sys_kexec, which will copy the data from user space anonymous
| pages, to kernel space.
| This is to just make it clear that I am not working from a
| FUNDAMENTALLY BROKEN interface, nor from a broken model of machine
| maintenance. I am quite willing to make changes assuming I understand
| what is gained with the change.
| What I currently support is a moderately nice interface, that has the
| kernel doing as much as it can without being bogged down in the
| specific details in any one file format, or needing something besides
| a 32bit entry point to jump to.
| I model an image as a set of segments of physical memory. And I copy
| the image loaded with sys_kexec to it's final location, before jumping
| to the new image. There are two reasons for this. It takes 3
| segments to load a bzImage (setup.S, vmlinux, and an initrd). And an
| arbitrary number of segments maps cleanly to a static ELF binary.
| There is only one difficult case. What happens when the buffers the
| kernel allocates are physically in one of the segments of memory of
| the new kernel image. Possible especially for the initrd which is
| loaded at the end of memory.
| I then use the following algorithm to sort the potential mess out
| before I jump to the new code. And since this code depends on
| swapping the contents of pages, knowing the physical location of
| the pages, and is not limited to 128MB I am reluctant to look a
| vmalloc variant. I can more get my pages from a slab if I need to
| report I have them.
[code deleted]
| Having had time to digest the idea of starting a new kernel on panic
| I can now make some observations and what I believe it would take to
| make it as robust as possible.
| - On panic because random pieces of the kernel may be broken we want
| to use as little of the kernel as possible.
| - Therefore machine_kexec should not allocate any memory, and as
| quickly as possible it should transition to the new kernel
| - So a new page table should be sitting around with the new kernel
| already mapped, and likewise other important tables like the
| gdt, and the idt, should be pre-allocated.
| - Then machine_kexec can just switch stacks, page tables, and other
| machine dependent tables and jump to the new kernel.
| - The load stage needs to load everything at the physical location it
| will initially run at. This would likely need support from rmap.
| - The load stage needs to preallocate page tables and buffers.
| - The load stage would likely work easiest by either requiring a mem=xxx
| line, reserving some of physical memory for the new kernel. Or
| alternatively using some rmap support to clear out a swath of
| physical memory the new kernel can be loaded into.
| - The new kernel loaded on panic must know about the previous kernel,
| and have various restrictions because of that.
| Supporting a kernel loaded from a normal environment is a rather
| different problem.
| - It cannot be loaded at it's run location (The current kernel is
| sitting there).
| - It should not need to know about the previously executing kernel.
| - Work can be done in machine_kexec to allocate memory so everything
| does not need to be pre allocated.
| - I can safely use multiple calls to the page allocator instead of
| needing a special mechanism to allocate memory.
| And now I go back to the silly exercise of factoring my code so the
| new kernel can be kept in locked kernel memory, instead of in a file
| while the shutdown scripts are run.
| Unless the linux kernel is modified to copy itself to the top of
| physical memory when it loads I have trouble seeing how any of this
| will help make the panic case easier to implement.
| Eric
| -


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