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SubjectRe: [PATCH 10/17] prmem: documentation
From
Date
Hi,

On 10/23/18 2:34 PM, Igor Stoppa wrote:
> Documentation for protected memory.
>
> Topics covered:
> * static memory allocation
> * dynamic memory allocation
> * write-rare
>
> Signed-off-by: Igor Stoppa <igor.stoppa@huawei.com>
> CC: Jonathan Corbet <corbet@lwn.net>
> CC: Randy Dunlap <rdunlap@infradead.org>
> CC: Mike Rapoport <rppt@linux.vnet.ibm.com>
> CC: linux-doc@vger.kernel.org
> CC: linux-kernel@vger.kernel.org
> ---
> Documentation/core-api/index.rst | 1 +
> Documentation/core-api/prmem.rst | 172 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> MAINTAINERS | 1 +
> 3 files changed, 174 insertions(+)
> create mode 100644 Documentation/core-api/prmem.rst


> diff --git a/Documentation/core-api/prmem.rst b/Documentation/core-api/prmem.rst
> new file mode 100644
> index 000000000000..16d7edfe327a
> --- /dev/null
> +++ b/Documentation/core-api/prmem.rst
> @@ -0,0 +1,172 @@
> +.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0
> +
> +.. _prmem:
> +
> +Memory Protection
> +=================
> +
> +:Date: October 2018
> +:Author: Igor Stoppa <igor.stoppa@huawei.com>
> +
> +Foreword
> +--------
> +- In a typical system using some sort of RAM as execution environment,
> + **all** memory is initially writable.
> +
> +- It must be initialized with the appropriate content, be it code or data.
> +
> +- Said content typically undergoes modifications, i.e. relocations or
> + relocation-induced changes.
> +
> +- The present document doesn't address such transient.

transience.

> +
> +- Kernel code is protected at system level and, unlike data, it doesn't
> + require special attention.
> +
> +Protection mechanism
> +--------------------
> +
> +- When available, the MMU can write protect memory pages that would be
> + otherwise writable.
> +
> +- The protection has page-level granularity.
> +
> +- An attempt to overwrite a protected page will trigger an exception.
> +- **Write protected data must go exclusively to write protected pages**
> +- **Writable data must go exclusively to writable pages**
> +
> +Available protections for kernel data
> +-------------------------------------
> +
> +- **constant**
> + Labelled as **const**, the data is never supposed to be altered.
> + It is statically allocated - if it has any memory footprint at all.
> + The compiler can even optimize it away, where possible, by replacing
> + references to a **const** with its actual value.
> +
> +- **read only after init**
> + By tagging an otherwise ordinary statically allocated variable with
> + **__ro_after_init**, it is placed in a special segment that will
> + become write protected, at the end of the kernel init phase.
> + The compiler has no notion of this restriction and it will treat any
> + write operation on such variable as legal. However, assignments that
> + are attempted after the write protection is in place, will cause

no comma.

> + exceptions.
> +
> +- **write rare after init**
> + This can be seen as variant of read only after init, which uses the
> + tag **__wr_after_init**. It is also limited to statically allocated
> + memory. It is still possible to alter this type of variables, after
> + the kernel init phase is complete, however it can be done exclusively
> + with special functions, instead of the assignment operator. Using the
> + assignment operator after conclusion of the init phase will still
> + trigger an exception. It is not possible to transition a certain
> + variable from __wr_ater_init to a permanent read-only status, at
> + runtime.
> +
> +- **dynamically allocated write-rare / read-only**
> + After defining a pool, memory can be obtained through it, primarily
> + through the **pmalloc()** allocator. The exact writability state of the
> + memory obtained from **pmalloc()** and friends can be configured when
> + creating the pool. At any point it is possible to transition to a less
> + permissive write status the memory currently associated to the pool.
> + Once memory has become read-only, it the only valid operation, beside
> + reading, is to released it, by destroying the pool it belongs to.
> +
> +
> +Protecting dynamically allocated memory
> +---------------------------------------
> +
> +When dealing with dynamically allocated memory, three options are
> + available for configuring its writability state:
> +
> +- **Options selected when creating a pool**
> + When creating the pool, it is possible to choose one of the following:
> + - **PMALLOC_MODE_RO**
> + - Writability at allocation time: *WRITABLE*
> + - Writability at protection time: *NONE*
> + - **PMALLOC_MODE_WR**
> + - Writability at allocation time: *WRITABLE*
> + - Writability at protection time: *WRITE-RARE*
> + - **PMALLOC_MODE_AUTO_RO**
> + - Writability at allocation time:
> + - the latest allocation: *WRITABLE*
> + - every other allocation: *NONE*
> + - Writability at protection time: *NONE*
> + - **PMALLOC_MODE_AUTO_WR**
> + - Writability at allocation time:
> + - the latest allocation: *WRITABLE*
> + - every other allocation: *WRITE-RARE*
> + - Writability at protection time: *WRITE-RARE*
> + - **PMALLOC_MODE_START_WR**
> + - Writability at allocation time: *WRITE-RARE*
> + - Writability at protection time: *WRITE-RARE*
> +
> + **Remarks:**
> + - The "AUTO" modes perform automatic protection of the content, whenever
> + the current vmap_area is used up and a new one is allocated.
> + - At that point, the vmap_area being phased out is protected.
> + - The size of the vmap_area depends on various parameters.
> + - It might not be possible to know for sure *when* certain data will
> + be protected.
> + - The functionality is provided as tradeoff between hardening and speed.
> + - Its usefulness depends on the specific use case at hand

end above sentence with a period, please, like all of the others above it.

> + - The "START_WR" mode is the only one which provides immediate protection, at the cost of speed.

Please try to keep the line above and a few below to < 80 characters in length.
(because some of us read rst files as text files, with a text editor, and line
wrap is ugly)

> +
> +- **Protecting the pool**
> + This is achieved with **pmalloc_protect_pool()**
> + - Any vmap_area currently in the pool is write-protected according to its initial configuration.
> + - Any residual space still available from the current vmap_area is lost, as the area is protected.
> + - **protecting a pool after every allocation will likely be very wasteful**
> + - Using PMALLOC_MODE_START_WR is likely a better choice.
> +
> +- **Upgrading the protection level**
> + This is achieved with **pmalloc_make_pool_ro()**
> + - it turns the present content of a write-rare pool into read-only
> + - can be useful when the content of the memory has settled
> +
> +
> +Caveats
> +-------
> +- Freeing of memory is not supported. Pages will be returned to the
> + system upon destruction of their memory pool.
> +
> +- The address range available for vmalloc (and thus for pmalloc too) is
> + limited, on 32-bit systems. However it shouldn't be an issue, since not
> + much data is expected to be dynamically allocated and turned into
> + write-protected.
> +
> +- Regarding SMP systems, changing state of pages and altering mappings
> + requires performing cross-processor synchronizations of page tables.
> + This is an additional reason for limiting the use of write rare.
> +
> +- Not only the pmalloc memory must be protected, but also any reference to
> + it that might become the target for an attack. The attack would replace
> + a reference to the protected memory with a reference to some other,
> + unprotected, memory.
> +
> +- The users of rare write must take care of ensuring the atomicity of the

s/rare write/write rare/ ?

> + action, respect to the way they use the data being altered; for example,

This .. "respect to the way" is awkward, but I don't know what to
change it to.

> + take a lock before making a copy of the value to modify (if it's
> + relevant), then alter it, issue the call to rare write and finally
> + release the lock. Some special scenario might be exempt from the need
> + for locking, but in general rare-write must be treated as an operation

It seemed to me that "write-rare" (or write rare) was the going name, but now
it's being called "rare write" (or rare-write). Just be consistent, please.


> + that can incur into races.
> +
> +- pmalloc relies on virtual memory areas and will therefore use more
> + tlb entries. It still does a better job of it, compared to invoking

TLB

> + vmalloc for each allocation, but it is undeniably less optimized wrt to

s/wrt/with respect to/

> + TLB use than using the physmap directly, through kmalloc or similar.
> +
> +
> +Utilization
> +-----------
> +
> +**add examples here**
> +
> +API
> +---
> +
> +.. kernel-doc:: include/linux/prmem.h
> +.. kernel-doc:: mm/prmem.c
> +.. kernel-doc:: include/linux/prmemextra.h


Thanks for the documentation.

--
~Randy

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