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SubjectRe: arm64: Register modification during syscall entry/exit stop
Just ran into this issue again, with what I think may be most compelling
example yet why this is problematic:

The tracee incurred a signal, we PTRACE_SYSEMU'd to the rt_sigreturn,
which the tracer tried to emulate by applying the state from the signal frame.
However, the PTRACE_SYSEMU stop is a syscall-stop, so the tracer's write
to x7 was ignored and x7 retained the value it had in the signal handler,
which broke the tracee.

Keno

On Sat, May 23, 2020 at 1:35 AM Keno Fischer <keno@juliacomputing.com> wrote:
>
> I got bitten by this again, so I decided to write up a simple example
> that shows the problem:
>
> https://gist.github.com/Keno/cde691b26e32373307fb7449ad305739
>
> This runs the same child twice. First vanilla where it prints "Hello world".
> The second time, using a textbook ptrace example, to only print "world".
> The problem here is that by the time the ptracer gets around to restoring
> the registers, it's no longer in a syscall stop, so the write to x7 does not
> get ignored and the correct value of x7 gets clobbered.
> I copied the syscall definition from musl, so the compiler thinks x7 is
> live, and we can see an assertion.
>
> Output on my machine (will depend on compiler version, etc.):
> ```
> $ gcc -g3 -O3 ptrace_lies.c
> $ ./a.out
> Hello World
> World
> a.out: ptrace_lies.c:49: do_child: Assertion `v3 == values[2]' failed.
> a.out: ptrace_lies.c:134: main: Assertion `WIFEXITED(status) &&
> WEXITSTATUS(status) == 0' failed.
> Aborted (core dumped)
> ```
>
> However, I don't think that whether or not the compiler thinks that x7 is
> live is the problem here. The problem is entirely that this mechanism
> prevents the ptracer from precisely controlling the register state. While
> basic ptracers don't need this feature (strace),
> more advanced ptracers (think criu, etc.) absolutely do want to precisely
> control what the register state is.
> The ptracer I'm working on (https://rr-project.org/)
> happens to be an extreme case of this, where it wants *bitwise* equivalent
> register states such that it can run the same code many times and get
> the exact same results.
>
> Also, if the issue was just that the kernel clobbered x7, that would be fine
> we could deal with that no problem. However, it's much worse than that,
> because the behavior of the kernel with respect to x7 depends on what
> kind of ptrace stop we're in and even worse, in some kinds of stop,
> there's absolutely no way to get at the actual value of x7.
>
> > Hmm, does that actually result in the SVC instruction getting inlined? I
> > think that's quite dangerous, since we document that we can trash the SVE
> > register state on a system call, for example. I'm also surprised that
> > the register variables are honoured by compilers if that inlining can occur.
>
> I haven't gotten to trying SVE yet, so I appreciate the warning :). That said,
> deterministic clobbering of registers is fine. Even changing the registers to
> random junk is fine. We're happy to read those registers through ptrace.
> The problem here is that the kernel lies about what the contents of the x7
> register is and discards any writes to it.
>
> I really hope we can come up with a solution here, I'm already dreading
> the next time I unexpectedly run into this and have to add yet
> another special case :(.
>
> Keno

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