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SubjectRe: [PATCH] drivers/virt: vmgenid: add vm generation id driver
On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 6:40 PM Jann Horn <> wrote:
> [adding some more people who are interested in RNG stuff: Andy, Jason,
> Theodore, Willy Tarreau, Eric Biggers. also linux-api@, because this
> concerns some pretty fundamental API stuff related to RNG usage]
> On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 4:33 PM Catangiu, Adrian Costin
> <> wrote:
> > - Background
> >
> > The VM Generation ID is a feature defined by Microsoft (paper:
> > and supported by
> > multiple hypervisor vendors.
> >
> > The feature is required in virtualized environments by apps that work
> > with local copies/caches of world-unique data such as random values,
> > uuids, monotonically increasing counters, etc.
> > Such apps can be negatively affected by VM snapshotting when the VM
> > is either cloned or returned to an earlier point in time.
> >
> > The VM Generation ID is a simple concept meant to alleviate the issue
> > by providing a unique ID that changes each time the VM is restored
> > from a snapshot. The hw provided UUID value can be used to
> > differentiate between VMs or different generations of the same VM.
> >
> > - Problem
> >
> > The VM Generation ID is exposed through an ACPI device by multiple
> > hypervisor vendors but neither the vendors or upstream Linux have no
> > default driver for it leaving users to fend for themselves.
> >
> > Furthermore, simply finding out about a VM generation change is only
> > the starting point of a process to renew internal states of possibly
> > multiple applications across the system. This process could benefit
> > from a driver that provides an interface through which orchestration
> > can be easily done.
> >
> > - Solution
> >
> > This patch is a driver which exposes the Virtual Machine Generation ID
> > via a char-dev FS interface that provides ID update sync and async
> > notification, retrieval and confirmation mechanisms:
> >
> > When the device is 'open()'ed a copy of the current vm UUID is
> > associated with the file handle. 'read()' operations block until the
> > associated UUID is no longer up to date - until HW vm gen id changes -
> > at which point the new UUID is provided/returned. Nonblocking 'read()'
> > uses EWOULDBLOCK to signal that there is no _new_ UUID available.
> >
> > 'poll()' is implemented to allow polling for UUID updates. Such
> > updates result in 'EPOLLIN' events.
> >
> > Subsequent read()s following a UUID update no longer block, but return
> > the updated UUID. The application needs to acknowledge the UUID update
> > by confirming it through a 'write()'.
> > Only on writing back to the driver the right/latest UUID, will the
> > driver mark this "watcher" as up to date and remove EPOLLIN status.
> >
> > 'mmap()' support allows mapping a single read-only shared page which
> > will always contain the latest UUID value at offset 0.
> It would be nicer if that page just contained an incrementing counter,
> instead of a UUID. It's not like the application cares *what* the UUID
> changed to, just that it *did* change and all RNGs state now needs to
> be reseeded from the kernel, right? And an application can't reliably
> read the entire UUID from the memory mapping anyway, because the VM
> might be forked in the middle.
> So I think your kernel driver should detect UUID changes and then turn
> those into a monotonically incrementing counter. (Probably 64 bits
> wide?) (That's probably also a little bit faster than comparing an
> entire UUID.)
> An option might be to put that counter into the vDSO, instead of a
> separate VMA; but I don't know how the other folks feel about that.
> Andy, do you have opinions on this? That way, normal userspace code
> that uses this infrastructure wouldn't have to mess around with a
> special device at all. And it'd be usable in seccomp sandboxes and so
> on without needing special plumbing. And libraries wouldn't have to
> call open() and mess with file descriptor numbers.

The vDSO might be annoyingly slow for this. Something like the rseq
page might make sense. It could be a generic indication of "system
went through some form of suspend".

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