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Subject[PATCH v7 7/7] livepatch: Atomic replace and cumulative patches documentation
User documentation for the atomic replace feature. It makes it easier
to maintain livepatches using so-called cumulative patches.

Signed-off-by: Petr Mladek <>
Documentation/livepatch/cumulative-patches.txt | 76 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
1 file changed, 76 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/livepatch/cumulative-patches.txt

diff --git a/Documentation/livepatch/cumulative-patches.txt b/Documentation/livepatch/cumulative-patches.txt
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..5f1f3760b840
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/livepatch/cumulative-patches.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,76 @@
+Atomic Replace & Cumulative Patches
+There are dependencies between livepatches when more patches modify the same
+function(s). Then any newer livepatch must include changes from the older ones.
+Also the patches must be registered in the right order.
+This might become a maintenance nightmare. Especially if anyone would want
+to remove a patch that is in the middle of the stack.
+An elegant solution comes with the feature called "Atomic Replace". It allows
+to create cumulative patches that completely replace all older livepatches.
+The atomic replace can be enabled by setting "replace" flag in struct klp_patch,
+for example:
+ static struct klp_patch patch = {
+ .mod = THIS_MODULE,
+ .objs = objs,
+ .replace = true,
+ };
+Such a patch is added on top of the livepatch stack when registered. It might
+be enabled even when some earlier patches have not been enabled yet.
+All processes are then migrated to use the code only from the new patch.
+Once the transition is finished, all older patches are removed from the stack
+of patches.
+Ftrace handlers are transparently removed from functions that are not
+longer modified by the new cumulative patch.
+As a result, the livepatch author might maintain sources only for one
+cumulative patch. It helps to keep the patch consistent while adding or
+removing various fixes or features.
+ + Replaced patches can not longer be enabled. But if the transition
+ was not forced, the older patches might be unregistered, removed
+ and eventually used again.
+ + Only the (un)patching callbacks from the _new_ cumulative livepatch are
+ proceed. Any callbacks from the replaced patches are ignored.
+ By other words, the cumulative patch is responsible for doing any actions
+ that are necessary to properly replace any older patch.
+ As a result, it might be dangerous to replace newer cumulative patches by
+ older ones. The old livepatches might not provide the necessary callbacks.
+ This might be seen as a limitation in some scenarios. But it makes the life
+ easier in many others. Only the new cumulative livepatch knows what
+ fixes/features are added/removed and what special actions are necessary
+ for a smooth transition.
+ In each case, it would be a nightmare to think about the order of
+ the various callbacks and their interactions if the callbacks from all
+ enabled patches were called.
+ + There is no special handling of shadow variables. Livepatch authors
+ must create their own rules how to pass them from one cumulative
+ patch to the other. Especially they should not blindly remove them
+ in module_exit() functions.
+ A good practice might be to remove shadow variables in the post-unpatch
+ callback. It is called only when the livepatch is properly disabled.
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