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SubjectRe: fanotify - overall design before I start sending patches
On Thursday 06 August 2009 12:23:51 Peter Zijlstra wrote:
> On Thu, 2009-08-06 at 11:59 +0100, Tvrtko Ursulin wrote:
> > > I have to agree with Pavel here, either you demand the monitor process
> > > is RT/mlock and can respond in time, in which case the interface
> > > doesn't need a 5 second timeout, or you cannot and you have a hole
> > > somewhere.
> > >
> > > Now having the kernel depend on any user task to guarantee process is
> > > of course utterly insane too.
> > >
> > > Sounds like a bad place to be, and I'd rather not have it.
> > >
> > > If you really need the intermediate you might as well use a FUSE
> > > filesystem, but I suspect there's plenty of problems there as well.
> >
> > So you mount FUSE on top of everything if you want to have systemwide
> > monitoring and then you _again_ depend on _userspace_, no? By this logic
> > everything has to be in kernel.
> I was assuming there was an unprotected region on the system, otherwise
> you cannot bootstrap this, nor maintain it -- see the daemon dies can't
> start a new one problem.

There should be no unprotected areas unless configured so. When there are no
daemons connected operations are not blocked.

> But yes, if its so invasive to the filesystem as to make it unusable I'd
> argue it to be part of the filesystem, we do filesystem encryption in
> the filesystem, so why should we do such invasive scanning outside of
> it?

:) It is hard to satisfy everyone, when I posted a proposed patch initially
(not any more related to Eric's work) it had more in the kernel space which
made people unhappy. Now you are suggesting even more. I don't think it is
realistic to put all the code for different fanotify use cases in the kernel.
Certainly on the malware scanning side we are talking about hourly updates so
something at least has to be in userspace. For HSMs I guess it is similarly
complex with triggering and waiting for media changes where things can also
fail in huge amount of ways.

> We are taking about the kind of fanotify client that says: No you cannot
> open/read/write/mmap/etc.. this file until I say you can, right?

Yes and no, it would be more accurate to say "this open takes long while we do
something else in the background".

> > But even if it was, and the CPUs are so
> > overloaded that an userspace thread does not get to run at all for X
> > seconds, are kernel threads scheduled differently eg. with priority other
> > than nice levels?
> No, except that some are run as RT processes, but other than that
> they're simply yet another task.
> Thing is, they don't do random things after a timeout. Its not like we
> simply give up a BIO if its been in the queue for a second. No we see it
> through.

I don't think this analogy is correct. IO can also timeout when a controller
or disk is not responding, in which you can't see it through but you need to
fail and propagate, you don't wait indefinitely.

> > Also, it is not like that when the timeout expires the kernel will hang.
> > Rather, some application would get an error from open(2). Note how that
> > is by system configuration where the admin has made a _deliberate_
> > decision to install such software which can cause this behaviour.
> >
> > You can have a RT/mlocked client but what if it crashes (lets say busy
> > loops)? Which is also something timeout mechanism is guarding against.
> By the above you're hosed anyway since starting a new one will fail due
> to there being no daemon, right? Might as well forfeit all security
> measures once the daemon dies. That is let security depend on there
> being a daemon connected.

No to the first part (explained it earlier), yes to the second.

> And once you do that, mandating the daemon to be a Real-Time process and
> have everything mlocked to avoid it being DoS'd seems like a minimum
> requirement.

And what if there is a bug in the daemon and it enters into a busy loop? What
happens if the client needs to do some IO in order to make the decision, RT
and mlock are not enough to guarantee anything then right?

> > I really think if we want to have this functionality there is no way
> > around the fact that any userspace can fail. Kernel should handle it of
> > course, and Eric's design does it by kicking repeatedly misbehaving
> > clients out.
> Seems like a weird thing to me, suppose you DoS the system on purpose
> and all clients start getting wonky, you kill them all, and are left
> with non, then you cannot access any of your files anymore and
> everything grinds to a halt?

Again, when there are no clients accesses are not blocked. And you can DoS a
box today in different ways even without fanotify. I don't think fanotify
makes it any worse, especially since fanotify is generic ie. doesn't address
a particular threat model on it's own.

> > If the timeout is made configurable I think this is the best that can be
> > done here. I don't think the problem is so huge as you are presenting it.
> I think having a timeout is simply asking for trouble - either you do or
> you don't having a timeout is like having a random number generator for
> a security policy.

I don't think that the timeout duration defines the security policy to the
extent you are suggesting. Please keep in mind that fanotify is just an
interface which can be used in many ways, only one of them is blocking, and
that is used only if you knowingly configure your system with a software
which uses it in such way.


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