lists  /  announce  owl-users  owl-dev  john-users  john-dev  passwdqc-users  yescrypt  popa3d-users  /  oss-security  kernel-hardening  musl  sabotage  tlsify  passwords  /  crypt-dev  xvendor  /  Bugtraq  Full-Disclosure  linux-kernel  linux-netdev  linux-ext4  PHC 
Open Source and information security mailing list archives
Hash Suite: Windows password security audit tool. GUI, reports in PDF.
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date:	Wed, 27 Jun 2007 14:04:17 -0700 (PDT)
From:	Roland McGrath <>
To:	Alan Stern <>
Cc:	Prasanna S Panchamukhi <>,
	Kernel development list <>
Subject: Re: [RFC] hwbkpt: Hardware breakpoints (was Kwatch)

> So far this work has all been based on the vanilla kernel.  Should I 
> switch over to basing it on -mm?

It doesn't much matter at the moment.  Sticking with vanilla is the easiest
for you and me testing it right now.

> > Calling send_sigtrap twice during the same exception does happen to be
> > harmless, but I don't think it should be presumed to be.  It is just not
> > the right way to go about things that you send a signal twice when there
> > is one signal you want to generate.
> What happens when there are two ptrace exceptions at different points
> during the same system call?  Won't we end up sending the signal twice
> no matter what?

Well then that is two signals for good reason, so that is a different
story.  It winds up indistinguishable from only sending the second, but as
far as the organization of the code and thinking about the semantics, twice
is right in this case and once is right in the simpler case.

> In theory we should get an exception with both DR_STEP and DR_TRAPn 
> set, meaning that neither notifier will return NOTIFY_STOP.  But if the 
> kprobes handler clears DR_STEP in the DR6 image passed to the 
> hw_breakpoint handler, it should work out better.

It's since occurred to me that kprobes can and should do:

	args->err &= ~(unsigned long) DR_STEP;
	if (args->err == 0)
		return NOTIFY_STOP;

This doesn't affect do_debug directly, but it will change the value seen by
the next notifier.  So if hw_breakpoint_handler is responsible for setting
vdr6 based on its args->err value, we should win.

> > vdr6 belongs wholly to hw_breakpoint, no other code refers to it
> > directly.  hw_breakpoint's notifier sets vdr6 with non-DR_TRAPn bits,
> > if it's a user-mode exception.  If it's a ptrace exception it also
> > sets the mapped DR_TRAPn bits.  If it's not a ptrace exception and
> > only DR_TRAPn bits were newly set, then it returns NOTIFY_STOP.  If
> > it's a spurious exception from lazy db7 setting, hw_breakpoint just
> > returns NOTIFY_STOP early.
> That sounds not quite right.  To a user-space debugger, a system call
> should appear as an atomic operation.  If multiple ptrace exceptions
> occur during a system call, all the relevant DR_TRAPn bits should be
> set in vdr6 together and all the other ones reset.  How can we arrange
> that?

That would be nice.  But it's more than the old code did.  I don't feel any
strong need to improve the situation when using ptrace.  The old code
disabled breakpoints after the first hit, so userland would only see the
first DR_TRAPn bit.  (Even if it didn't, with the blind copying of the
hardware %db6 value, we now know it would only see one DR_TRAPn bit still
set after a second exception.)  With my suggestion above, userland would
only see the last DR_TRAPn bit.  So it's not worse.

In the ptrace case, we know it's always going to wind up with a signal
before it finishes and returns to user mode.  So one approach would be in
e.g. do_notify_resume, do:

	if (thread_info_flags & _TIF_DEBUG)
		current->thread.hw_breakpoint_info->someflag = 0;

Then ptrace_triggered could set someflag, and know from it still being set
on entry that it's a second trigger without getting back to user mode yet
(and so accumulate bits instead reset old ones).

But I just would not bother improving ptrace beyond the status quo for a
corner case noone has cared about in practice so far.  In sensible
mechanisms of the future, nothing will examine db6 values directly.

> There's also the question of whether to send the SIGTRAP.  If
> extraneous bits are set in DR6 (e.g., because the CPU always sets some
> extra bits) then we will never get NOTIFY_STOP.  Nevertheless, the
> signal should not always be sent.

Yeah.  The current Intel manual describes all the unspecified DR6 bits as
explicitly reserved and set to 1 (except 0x1000 reserved and 0).  If new
meanings are assigned in future chips, presumably those will only be
enabled by some new explicit cr/msr setting.  Those might be enabled by
some extra module or something, but there is only so much we can do to
accomodate.  I think the best plan is that notifiers should do:

	args->err &= ~bits_i_recognize_as_mine;
	if (!(args->err & known_bits))
		return NOTIFY_STOP;

known_bits are the ones we use, plus 0x8000 (DR_SWITCH/BS) and 0x2000 (BD).
(Those two should be impossible without some strange new kernel bug.)
Probably should write it as ~DR_STATUS_RESERVED, to parallel existing macros.

Then we only possibly interfere with a newfangled debug exception flavor
that occurs in the same one debug exception for an instruction also
triggering for hw_breakpoint or step.  In the more likely cases of a new
flavor of exception happening by itself, or the aforementioned strange new
kernel bugs, we will get to the bottom of do_debug and do the SIGTRAP.

For this plan, hw_breakpoint_handler also needs not to return NOTIFY_STOP
as a special case for a ptrace trigger.

> I disagree.  kfree() is documented to return harmlessly when passed a
> NULL pointer, and lots of places in the kernel have been changed to
> remove useless tests for NULL before calls to kfree().  This is just
> another example.

Ok.  I have no special opinions about that.  I just tend to avoid folding
miscellaneous changes into a patch adding new code.  It would be better
form to send first the trivial cleanup patch removing that second condition.

To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at

Powered by blists - more mailing lists