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Date:   Mon, 23 Jan 2017 10:35:17 +0100
From:   Steffen Klassert <>
To:     Kevin Cernekee <>
CC:     <>, <>,
        <>, <>,
        <>, <>,
        <>, <>, <>,
        <>, <>,
Subject: Re: [PATCH 0/4] Make xfrm usable by 32-bit programs

On Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 04:05:03PM -0800, Kevin Cernekee wrote:
> Several of the xfrm netlink and setsockopt() interfaces are not usable
> from a 32-bit binary running on a 64-bit kernel due to struct padding
> differences.  This has been the case for many, many years[0].  This
> patch series deprecates the broken netlink messages and replaces them
> with packed structs that are compatible between 64-bit and 32-bit
> programs.  It retains support for legacy user programs (i.e. anything
> that is currently working today), and allows legacy support to be
> compiled out via CONFIG_XFRM_USER_LEGACY if it becomes unnecessary in
> the future.

This would mean that we have to maintain two APIs from now on.
This is something I really want to avoid because it is almost
impossible to get rid of the old one.

> Earlier attempts at fixing the problem had implemented a compat layer.
> A compat layer is helpful because it avoids the need to recompile old
> user binaries, but there are many challenges involved in implementing
> it.  I believe a compat layer is of limited value in this instance
> because anybody who really needed to solve the problem without
> recompiling their binaries has almost certainly found another solution
> in the ~7 years since the compat patches were first proposed.
> A benefit of this approach is that long-term, the broken netlink messages
> will no longer be used.  A drawback is that in the short term, user
> programs that want to adopt the new message formats will require a
> modern kernel.  Projects like strongSwan and iproute2 bundle the xfrm.h
> header inside their own source trees, so they will need to make a
> judgment call on when to remove support for kernels that do not support
> the new messages.  And programs built against the new kernel headers
> will not work on old kernels.

So this creates new incompatibilities what is another argument against
this approach. If you really need this, try to implement a full compat
layer. I think this is the only sane solution for this.

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