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Date:   Thu, 13 Apr 2017 13:29:41 +0000
From:   <>
To:     <>, <>
CC:     <>, <>, <>,
        <>, <>,
        <>, <>
Subject: RE: RFC: WMI Enhancements

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Michał Kępień []
> Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2017 2:32 AM
> To: Darren Hart <>
> Cc: Rafael Wysocki <>; Len Brown <>;
> Pali Rohár <>; Corentin Chary
> <>; Limonciello, Mario
> <>; Andy Lutomirski <>; Andy
> Shevchenko <>; LKML <linux-
>>;; linux-
> Subject: Re: RFC: WMI Enhancements
> > Hi All,
> >
> > There are a few parallel efforts involving the Windows Management
> > Instrumentation (WMI)[1] and dependent/related drivers. I'd like to
> > have a round of discussion among those of you that have been involved
> > in this space before we decide on a direction.
> >
> > The WMI support in the kernel today fairly narrowly supports a handful
> > of systems. Andy L. has a work-in-progress series [2] which converts
> > wmi into a platform device and a proper bus, providing devices for
> > dependent drivers to bind to, and a mechanism for sibling devices to
> communicate with each other.
> > I've reviewed the series and feel like the approach is sound, I plan
> > to carry this series forward and merge it (with Andy L's permission).
> >
> > Are there any objections to this?
> Back in January 2016, I sent Andy a few minor comments about this series.  A
> year later, I offered to iron out the remaining issues and resubmit the series in
> Andy's name when I find the time.  Sadly, things have changed a bit for me
> since that time and it is unlikely that I will be able to deliver, for which I am
> sorry.
> However, browsing Andy's branch I see that most issues have been resolved,
> though I think some of my remarks [1] have either been missed or silently
> refuted :)
> Anyway, I also like this approach and I think this series is a valuable cleanup.
> > In Windows, applications interact with WMI more or less directly. We
> > don't do this in Linux currently, although it has been discussed in
> > the past [3]. Some vendors will work around this by performing
> > SMI/SMM, which is inefficient at best. Exposing WMI methods to
> > userspace would bring parity to WMI for Linux and Windows.
> >
> > There are two principal concerns I'd appreciate your thoughts on:
> >
> > a) As an undiscoverable interface (you need to know the method
> > signatures ahead of time), universally exposing every WMI "device" to
> > userspace seems like "a bad idea" from a security and stability
> > perspective. While access would certainly be privileged, it seems more
> > prudent to make this exposure opt-in. We also handle some of this with
> > kernel drivers and exposing those "devices" to userspace would enable
> > userspace and the kernel to fight over control. So - if we expose WMI
> > devices to userspace, I believe this should be done on a case by case
> > basis, opting in, and not by default as part of the WMI driver
> > (although it can provide the mechanism for a sub-driver to use), and possibly
> a devmode to do so by default.
> >
> > b) The mechanism to expose WMI devices to userspace must allow for
> > atomic operation, which would exclude a sysfs interface involving multiple
> files.
> > Something like an ioctl or a char dev would be more appropriate.
> >
> > Does anyone think differently regarding a) or b) ?
> Please pardon my ignorance, but what do we actually gain by exposing WMI to
> userspace?  Enabling applications to fetch SMBIOS data?  We already have an
> interface for that.  Enabling applications to receive input events?  Likewise.

Input notifications are just one aspect that received over WMI.  I don't see any
reason to move the notifications out of the kernel.

In terms of userspace applications, once a WMI interface to userspace is available
libsmbios would change over to that.  Applications using libsmbios would benefit.

> You mentioned WMI's efficiency compared to SMI/SMM, but is it a difference
> significant enough for anyone to notice?

At least for Dell there are optimizations being made when data is requested over 
the WMI-ACPI wrapper instead of directly via SMI/SMM.

For example if the data is a "static" table or the request is to something that is
passed thru to the EC it's a big waste of effort to put the CPU in SMM.

The savings there is significant.

> I am biased here as I have had my own struggles with WMI in the past, but it
> looks like a layer of indirection which brings little value, yet is tricky to expose
> properly.  If there is a real-life use case that makes this idea worthwhile, I
> would love to be enlightened.
> > Secondarily, Andy L created a simple driver to expose the MOF buffer
> > [2] to userspace which could be consumed by a userspace tool to create
> > sources for an interface to the exposed WMI methods.
> +1 for the idea, it makes figuring out what the firmware actually
> exposes through WMI a bit easier.  After skimming through the driver's code, I
> would only recommend to review the included headers (linux/input/sparse-
> keymap.h, linux/dmi.h and acpi/video.h all seem redundant to me).
> What we still need, though, is an open source version of wmiofck.exe.  I am
> unaware of anything like that existing and installing the Windows Driver Kit
> just to run one command which spits out a single *.h file is not something I
> would describe as convenient (been there).
> [1]
> --
> Best regards,
> Michał Kępień

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