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SubjectRe: [BUG] Crash with NULL pointer dereference in bond_handle_frame in -rt (possibly mainline)
On Fri, 2013-03-29 at 10:48 +0100, Jiri Pirko wrote:

> Because, if rcu_dereference(dev->rx_handler) is null,
> rcu_dereference(dev->rx_handler_data) is never done. Therefore I believe
> we are hitting following scenario:
> ---- ----
> dev->rx_handler_data = NULL
> rcu_read_lock()
> dev->rx_handler = NULL

That is not what is happening and that is not how RCU works. That is,
rcu_read_lock() does not block nor does it really do much with ordering
at all.

The problem is totally contained within the rcu_read_lock() as well:

If you have:

rx_handler = dev->rx_handler;

where rx_handler references rx->rx_handler_data you need much more than
making sure that rx->handler is set to null before rx_handler_data.

The way RCU works is it lets things exist in a "dual state". Kind of
like a Schödinger's cat. The solution Eric posted is a classic RCU
example of how this works.

When you set dev->rx_handler to NULL, there's two states that currently
exist in the system. Those that still see dev->rx_handler set to
something and those that see it set to NULL. You could put in memory
barriers to your hearts content, but you will still have a system that
sees things in a dual state. If you set dev->rx_handler_data to NULL,
you risk those that see rx_handler as a function can still reference the
rx_handler_data when it is NULL.

Think of it this way:

dev->rx_handler() {

Once the function has been called, even if you set rx_handler() to NULL
at this point, it makes no difference, even with memory barriers. This
CPU is about to execute the previous value of rx_handler and there's
nothing you can do to stop it. Setting rx_handler_data to NULL now can
cause that CPU to reference the NULL pointer. There isn't a ordering
problem where rx_handler_data got set to NULL first.

But the beauty about RCU is the synchronize_*() functions, because that
puts the system back into a single state. After the synchronization is
complete, the entire system sees rx_handler() as NULL. There is no worry
about setting rx_handler_data to NULL now because nothing will be
referencing the previous value of rx_handler because that value no
longer exists in the system.

That means Eric's solution fits perfectly well here.

< system in single state : everyone sees rx_handler = function() >

rx_handler = NULL;

< system in dual state : new calls see rx_handler = NULL, but
current calls see rx_handler = function >


< system is back to single state: everyone sees rx_handler = NULL >

rx_handler_data = NULL;

no problem ;-)

-- Steve

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