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    SubjectRe: [linux-usb] Re: USB device allocation
       Date:   Tue, 5 Oct 1999 21:49:41 -0400
    From: Johannes Erdfelt <>

    I was advocating devfs because it's there. My understanding about devfs
    now is that's mostly userspace. The only thing kernel space is a /proc
    like dynamic fs interface for devfs. All of the policy is in userspace.

    ... and it's the policy part which is the hard part.

    Look, there's basically three pieces to the problem. One part is somehow
    notifying the user-space daemon that some device has appeared, so it can
    take appropriate action (either creating the device, or changing the
    modes on the device after devfs magically makes it appears).
    The second part is the user-space daemon itself, where all of the policy
    is contained. And the third part is the the filesystem interface which
    makes "/dev" appear, and maintaines persistance of ownership and modes
    across reboots, etc.

    Devfs uses the dynamic filesystem idea for the first and third parts,
    while it's "neat", it's not the right interface for doing things. The
    problems are most obvious in the third part: /dev has state that needs
    to be persistent. If you store it in a real filesystem, you get that
    for free. With devfs, you have this extra kernel code to store all of
    the devices in memory, and in a real filesystem you get this for free.
    In order to handle persistence, in devfs you have to have this horrible
    kludge where you run tar over the devfs at shutdown time. And, any
    claims of performance speedup because "devfs is in memory", is
    completely negated by the dcache layer anyway. So why not use a real
    filesystem, eliminate the devfs code and the extra filesystem, and
    dispense with the "tar cf" kludge?

    I think everyone has agreed that a daemon needs to exist, which is
    userspace, has some sort of interface to the kernel to be notified about
    additions and deletions and creates a /dev based on user policy. Do you
    agree with this? Does anyone disagree with this?

    The main thing which we are missing right now is a standard interface
    where the kernel can dump out all devices in some standard form, and
    notify user-space programs when new devices have appeared. That's the
    only kernel level support we need, and sure, some of Richard's devfs
    patches could be used to help give us this dynamic notification
    capability. I claim that there are better interfaces than readdir() +
    stat() and a dynamic filesystem in order to pass this information to
    userspace, though, and I hope most people would agree with me. Why
    don't we try to design that interface first, and I suspect the rest will
    follow relatively easily.

    - Ted

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