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Date:   Wed, 30 Aug 2017 16:39:42 -0700
From:   "H. Peter Anvin" <>
To:     Josh Poimboeuf <>
Subject: Re: [tip:x86/asm] objtool: Handle GCC stack pointer adjustment bug

On 08/30/17 13:14, Josh Poimboeuf wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 12:23:24PM -0700, H. Peter Anvin wrote:
>> On 08/30/17 02:43, tip-bot for Josh Poimboeuf wrote:
>>> Those warnings are caused by an unusual GCC non-optimization where it
>>> uses an intermediate register to adjust the stack pointer.  It does:
>>>   lea    0x8(%rsp), %rcx
>>>   ...
>>>   mov    %rcx, %rsp
>>> Instead of the obvious:
>>>   add    $0x8, %rsp
>>> It makes no sense to use an intermediate register, so I opened a GCC bug
>>> to track it:
>>> But it's not exactly a high-priority bug and it looks like we'll be
>>> stuck with this issue for a while.  So for now we have to track register
>>> values when they're loaded with stack pointer offsets.
>> This seems like a good reason to try to extract this information from
>> the DWARF data *if available*?
> Well, I haven't ruled that out for the future, but in this case,
> integrating DWARF would be a lot more work than this relatively simple
> patch.
> If we did go that route, it could be tricky deciding when to trust
> DWARF vs. when to trust objtool's reverse engineering.
> Another (vague) idea I'm thinking about is to write a GCC plugin which
> annotates the object files in a way that would help objtool become more
> GCC-ignorant.  If it worked, this approach would be more powerful and
> less error-prone than relying on DWARF.
> Depending on how much work we can offload to the plugin, it might also
> help make it easier to port objtool to other arches and compilers (e.g.,
> clang).
> I'm not 100% sold on that idea either, because it still requires objtool
> to trust the compiler to some extent.  But I think it would be worth it
> because it would make the objtool code simpler, more portable, more
> robust, and easier to maintain (so I don't always have to stay on top of
> all of GCC's latest optimizations).
> In the meantime, objtool's current design is working fine (for now).  I
> haven't found any issues it can't handle (yet).

Reverse engineering this way is at least NP-complete, and quite possibly
undecidable.  A gcc plugin would tie the kernel *way* harder to gcc than
it is now, and it seems incredibly unlikely that you would come up with
something simpler and more reliable than a DWARF parser.  What you *can*
do, of course, is cross-correlate the two, and *way* more importantly,
you cover assembly.


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