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SubjectRe: [PATCH v5 1/6] mm/page_idle: Add per-pid idle page tracking using virtual index
On Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 05:34:16PM +0200, Daniel Gruss wrote:
> On 8/13/19 5:29 PM, Jann Horn wrote:
> > On Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 12:09 PM Michal Hocko <> wrote:
> >> On Mon 12-08-19 20:14:38, Jann Horn wrote:
> >>> On Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 7:16 PM Joel Fernandes (Google)
> >>> <> wrote:
> >>>> The page_idle tracking feature currently requires looking up the pagemap
> >>>> for a process followed by interacting with /sys/kernel/mm/page_idle.
> >>>> Looking up PFN from pagemap in Android devices is not supported by
> >>>> unprivileged process and requires SYS_ADMIN and gives 0 for the PFN.
> >>>>
> >>>> This patch adds support to directly interact with page_idle tracking at
> >>>> the PID level by introducing a /proc/<pid>/page_idle file. It follows
> >>>> the exact same semantics as the global /sys/kernel/mm/page_idle, but now
> >>>> looking up PFN through pagemap is not needed since the interface uses
> >>>> virtual frame numbers, and at the same time also does not require
> >>>> SYS_ADMIN.
> >>>>
> >>>> In Android, we are using this for the heap profiler (heapprofd) which
> >>>> profiles and pin points code paths which allocates and leaves memory
> >>>> idle for long periods of time. This method solves the security issue
> >>>> with userspace learning the PFN, and while at it is also shown to yield
> >>>> better results than the pagemap lookup, the theory being that the window
> >>>> where the address space can change is reduced by eliminating the
> >>>> intermediate pagemap look up stage. In virtual address indexing, the
> >>>> process's mmap_sem is held for the duration of the access.
> >>>
> >>> What happens when you use this interface on shared pages, like memory
> >>> inherited from the zygote, library file mappings and so on? If two
> >>> profilers ran concurrently for two different processes that both map
> >>> the same libraries, would they end up messing up each other's data?
> >>
> >> Yup PageIdle state is shared. That is the page_idle semantic even now
> >> IIRC.
> >>
> >>> Can this be used to observe which library pages other processes are
> >>> accessing, even if you don't have access to those processes, as long
> >>> as you can map the same libraries? I realize that there are already a
> >>> bunch of ways to do that with side channels and such; but if you're
> >>> adding an interface that allows this by design, it seems to me like
> >>> something that should be gated behind some sort of privilege check.
> >>
> >> Hmm, you need to be priviledged to get the pfn now and without that you
> >> cannot get to any page so the new interface is weakening the rules.
> >> Maybe we should limit setting the idle state to processes with the write
> >> status. Or do you think that even observing idle status is useful for
> >> practical side channel attacks? If yes, is that a problem of the
> >> profiler which does potentially dangerous things?
> >
> > I suppose read-only access isn't a real problem as long as the
> > profiler isn't writing the idle state in a very tight loop... but I
> > don't see a usecase where you'd actually want that? As far as I can
> > tell, if you can't write the idle state, being able to read it is
> > pretty much useless.
> >
> > If the profiler only wants to profile process-private memory, then
> > that should be implementable in a safe way in principle, I think, but
> > since Joel said that they want to profile CoW memory as well, I think
> > that's inherently somewhat dangerous.
> I agree that allowing profiling of shared pages would leak information.

Will think more about it. If we limit it to private pages, then it could
become useless. Consider a scenario where:
A process allocates a some memory, then forks a bunch of worker processes
that read that memory and perform some work with them. Per-PID page idle
tracking is now run on the parent processes. Now it should appear that the
pages are actively accessed (not-idle). If we don't track shared pages, then
we cannot detect if those pages are really due to memory leaking, or if they
are there for a purpose and are actively used.

> To me the use case is not entirely clear. This is not a feature that
> would normally be run in everyday computer usage, right?

Generally, this to be used as a debugging feature that helps developers
detect memory leaks in their programs.


- Joel

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