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SubjectRe: [RFC][PATCH] Randomize kernel base address on boot
On Wed, 2011-05-25 at 08:48 -0700, H. Peter Anvin wrote:
> On 05/25/2011 07:03 AM, Dan Rosenberg wrote:
> >
> > My current idea is to use int 0x15, eax = 0xe801 (which seems to be
> > nearly universally supported) and use bx/dx to determine the amount of
> > contiguous, usable memory above 16 MB, which seems to be exactly what we
> > want to know. If the BIOS does not support this function I'll be sure
> > to catch that and skip the randomization. Likewise, if the amount of
> > returned memory seems insufficient or otherwise confusing, I'll skip the
> > randomization.
> >
> No, sorry. This has been wrong for over 10 years; there is no
> substitute for the full (e820) memory map. *Furthermore*, based on
> where in the bootup sequence you are doing this, you also have to
> consider any other memory structures that the kernel needs to be aware
> of (initramfs, any chunks in the linked list, the command line, EFI
> handover structures, etc.) This is in fact an arbitrarily complex
> operation... we have *finally* gotten the kernel to the point where (a)
> the boot loader can actually do the right thing in all cases and (b) the
> kernel will reserve or copy all the auxiliary memory chunks it needs at
> a very early point.
> Sorry, this cannot be short-circuited.

Ok, checking the e820 memory map seems like the way to go then. As a
first attempt, I'd assume that if I find a contiguous free chunk that
begins before (or at) 16 MB and continues beyond 16 MB, then that
represents space where it's safe to load the kernel (up to a certain
point before the end of that chunk), assuming the chunk has enough space
and I do some degree of checking that I'm not decompressing on top of
something else (I'll start to gather a list of what to watch out for).
Is this a fair assumption?

> > Given this information, do you have a conservative guess for how close
> > to the top of available memory we can put the kernel? As in, let's say
> > we have an XYZ MB chunk of contiguous, free memory, how should I
> > calculate the highest, safe place to put the kernel in that region?
> >
> > I'm going to continue to enforce the requirement that 16 MB is the
> > lowest address we can safely load the kernel, and I'd still appreciate
> > any information on why 2/4 MB default alignment might cause problems.
> The problem with all of that was backwards compatibility with existing
> relocating bootloaders.

Do you have any alternatives that allow maintaining compatibility while
giving us finer-grained alignment? It seems it should be possible,
since alignment was lower than 16 MB for years before this change was


> -hpa
> --
> H. Peter Anvin, Intel Open Source Technology Center
> I work for Intel. I don't speak on their behalf.

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