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SubjectA Plumber’s Wish List for Linux, updated version 2
Update: this is the second version, it incorporates the original list,
adds a couple of new items, and includes references to some useful
feedback and patches that have already been prepared.

We’d like to share our current wish list of plumbing layer features we
are hoping to see implemented in the near future in the Linux kernel and
associated tools. Some items we can implement on our own, others are not
our area of expertise, and we will need help getting them implemented.

Acknowledging that this wish list of ours only gets longer and not
shorter, even though we have implemented a number of other features on
our own in the previous years, we are posting this list here, in the
hope to find some help.

If you happen to be interested in working on something from this list or
able to help out, we’d be delighted. Please ping us in case you need
clarifications or more information on specific items.

Kay, Lennart, Harald, David in the name of all the other plumbers

And here is the wish list, in no particular order:

* support user quota on tmpfs to prevent DoS vulnerabilities
on /tmp, /dev/shm, /run/user/$USER. This is kinda important. Idea:
global RLIMIT_TMPFS_QUOTA over all mounted tmpfs file systems. NEW!

* support fallocate() properly: NEW!
fallocate(5, 0, 0, 7663616) = -1 EOPNOTSUPP

* events for renames NEW!

* allow safe unprivileged access NEW!

* pass information about the open flags to the file system monitors, in
order to allow clients to figure out whether other applications opened
files for writing or just read-only. NEW!

* allow to find out if a file actually was written to, when closed after
opening it read-write NEW!

* (ioctl based?) interface to query and modify the label of a mounted
FAT volume: A FAT label is implemented as a hidden directory entry in
the file system, which need to be renamed when changing the file system
label. This is impossible to do from userspace without remounting. Hence
we’d like to see a kernel interface that is available on the mounted
file system mount point itself. Of course, bonus points, if this new
interface can be implemented for other file systems as well.

* faster xattrs on ext2/3/4 (i.e. allow userspace to make use of xattr
without paying the performance penalty for the seeks. Alex Larsson will
provide you with the measurement data how xattr checking is magnitudes
slower when trying to implement a simple file list). Suggestion: provide
a simple flag in struct stat to inform userspace whether it is worth
looking for xattrs (i.e. think STAT_XATTRS_FOUND or STAT_XATTRS_MAYBE)

* allow creation of read-only bind mounts in a single mount() call,
instead of two NEW!

* Similar, allow configuration of namespace propagation settings for
mount points in the initial mount() syscall, instead of always requiring
two (which is racy, and ugly, and stuff). NEW!

memory management:
* swappiness control as madvise() for individual memory pages NEW!

core kernel:
[PATCH] * hostname change notification:;a=commitdiff;h=70b932563a9514b248cc71a29bd0907bf95b4a5e NEW!

Reviewed and probably ready-to-merge patch: NEW!

* allow 64 bit PIDs / use 32 bit pids by default, in order to fix PID
recycle vulnerabilities NEW!

* allow changing argv[] of a process without mucking with environ[]:
Something like setproctitle() or a prctl() would be ideal. Of course it
is questionable if services like sendmail make use of this, but otoh for
services which fork but do not immediately exec() another binary being
able to rename this child processes in ps is of importance.

driver model:
* CPU modaliases in /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpuX/modalias:
useful to allow module auto-loading of e.g. cpufreq drivers and KVM
modules. Andy Kleen has a patch to create the alias file itself. CPU
‘struct sysdev’ needs to be converted to ‘struct device’ and a ‘struct
bus_type cpu’ needs to be introduced to allow proper CPU coldplug event
replay at bootup. This is one of the last remaining places where
automatic hardware-triggered module auto-loading is not available. And
we’d like to see that fix to make numerous ugly userspace work-arounds
to achieve the same go away.

* export ‘struct device_type fb/fbcon’ of ‘struct class graphics’
Userspace wants to easily distinguish ‘fb’ and ‘fbcon’ from each other
without the need to match on the device name.

[PATCH] * expose CAP_LAST_CAP somehow in the running kernel at runtime:
Userspace needs to know the highest valid capability of the running
kernel, which right now cannot reliably be retrieved from header files
only. The fact that this value cannot be detected properly right now
creates various problems for libraries compiled on newer header files
which are run on older kernels. They assume capabilities are available
which actually aren’t. Specifically, libcap-ng claims that all running
processes retain the higher capabilities in this case due to the
“inverted” semantics of CapBnd in /proc/$PID/status.
Dan Ballard

* module-init-tools: provide a proper from
Early boot tools, installers, driver install disks want to access
information about available modules, and match devices to available
modules to hook up driver overwrites, driver update disks, installer
tweaks, and to optimize bootup module handling.

* fork throttling mechanism as basic cgroup functionality that is
available in all hierarchies independent of the controllers used:
This is important to implement race-free killing of all members of a
cgroup, so that cgroup member processes cannot fork faster then a cgroup
supervisor process could kill them. This needs to be recursive, so that
not only a cgroup but all its subgroups are covered as well.
Patches for task_conter from Frederic Weisbecker
Possibly use the freezer Tejun is looking into.

* proper cgroup-is-empty notification interface:
The current call_usermodehelper() interface is an unefficient and an
ugly hack. Tools would prefer anything more lightweight like a netlink,
poll() or fanotify interface.

* allow user xattrs to be set on files in the cgroupfs (and maybe

* allow making use of the “cpu” cgroup controller by default without
breaking RT. Right now creating a cgroup in the “cpu” hierarchy that
shall be able to take advantage of RT is impossible for the generic case
since it needs an RT budget configured which is from a limited resource
pool. What we want is the ability to create cgroups in “cpu” whose
processes get an non-RT weight applied, but for RT take advantage of the
parent’s RT budget. We want the separation of RT and non-RT budget
assignment in the “cpu” hierarchy, because right now, you lose RT
functionality in it unless you assign an RT budget. This issue severely
limits the usefulness of “cpu” hierarchy on general purpose systems
right now.

* Add a timerslack cgroup controller, to allow increasing the timer
slack of user session cgroups when the machine is idle.
Patch from: Kirill A. Shutemov

* simple, reliable and future-proof way to detect whether a specific pid
is running in a CLONE_NEWUTS/CLONE_NEWPID container, i.e. not in the
root PID namespace/UTS namespace. Currently, there are available a few
ugly hacks to detect this (for example a process wanting to know whether
it is running in a PID namespace could just look for a PID 2 being
around and named kthreadd which is a kernel thread only visible in the
root namespace), however all these solutions encode information and
expectations that better shouldn’t be encoded in a namespace test like
this. This functionality is needed in particular since the removal of
the the ns cgroup controller which provided the namespace membership
information to user code.

* An auxiliary meta data message for AF_UNIX called SCM_CGROUPS (or
something like that), i.e. a way to attach sender cgroup membership to
messages sent via AF_UNIX. This is useful in case services such as
syslog shall be shared among various containers (or service cgroups),
and the syslog implementation needs to be able to distinguish the
sending cgroup in order to separate the logs on disk. Of course stm
SCM_CREDENTIALS can be used to look up the PID of the sender followed by
a check in /proc/$PID/cgroup, but that is necessarily racy, and actually
a very real race in real life.

* SCM_PROCSTATUS for retrieving sender process information supplying at
least: comm, exec, cmdline, audit session, audit loginuid.

All time favourites:
These items have been requested many times already, and we want to make
sure they aren’t forgotten. We know they are hard to implement, and we
don’t know how to get there, but nonetheless, here they are:

* Oldie But Goldie: some kind of unionfs or union mount. A minimal
version that supports only read-only filesystems would already be a big
step forward. NEW!

* revoke() NEW!

* Notifications when non-child processes die, in an efficient way
focussing on explicit PIDs (i.e. not taskstats) in some form (idea:
poll() for POLLERR on /proc/$PID) NEW!

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