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Date:   Thu, 5 Apr 2018 14:34:43 -0600
From:   Scott Bauer <>
Cc:     Jonas Rabenstein <>,
        Christoph Hellwig <>,
        Jonathan Derrick <>,
        Jens Axboe <>,,
Subject: Re: [PATCH v2 08/11] block: sed-opal: ioctl for writing to shadow mbr

On Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 08:27:30PM +0200, wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 29, 2018 at 11:16:42AM -0600, Scott Bauer wrote:
> > Yeah, having to autheticate to write the MBR is a real bummer. Theoretically
> > you could dd a the pw struct + the shador MBR into sysfs. But that's
> > a pretty disgusting hack just to use sysfs. The other method I thought of
> > was to authenticate via ioctl then write via sysfs. We already save the PW
> > in-kernel for unlocks, so perhaps we can re-use the save-for-unlock to
> > do shadow MBR writes via sysfs?
> > 
> > Re-using an already exposed ioctl for another purpose seems somewhat dangerous?
> > In the sense that what if the user wants to write the smbr but doesn't want to
> > unlock on suspends, or does not want their PW hanging around in the kernel.
> Well. If we would force the user to a two-step interaction, why not stay
> completely in sysfs? So instead of using the save-for-unlock ioctl, we
> could export each security provider( (AdminSP, UserSPX, ...) as a sysfs

The Problem with this is Single user mode, where you can assign users to locking ranges.
There would have to be a lot of dynamic changes of sysfs as users get added/removed,
or added to LRs etc. It seems like we're trying mold something that already
works fine into something that doesnt really work as we dig into the details. 

> directory with appropriate files (e.g. mbr for AdminSP) as well as a
> 'unlock' file to store a users password for the specific locking space
> and a 'lock' file to remove the stored password on write to it.
> Of course, while this will prevent from reuse of the ioctl and
> stays within the same configuration method, the PW will still hang
> around in the kernel between 'lock' and 'unlock'.
> Another idea I just came across while writing this down:
> Instead of storing/releasing the password permanently with the 'unlock' and
> 'lock' files, those may be used to start/stop an authenticated session.
> To make it more clear what I mean: Each ioctl that requires
> authentication has a similar pattern:
> discovery0, start_session, <do_work>, end_session
> Instead of having the combination determined by the ioctl, the 'unlock'
> would do discovery0 and start_session while the 'lock' would do the
> end_session. The user is free to issue further commands with the
> appropriate write/reads to other files of the sysfs-directory.
> While this removes the requirement to store the key within kernel space,
> the open session handle may be used from everybody with permissions for
> read/write access to the sysfs-directory files. So this is not optimal
> as not only the user who provided the password will finally be able to use
> it.

I generally like the idea of being able to run your abritrary opal commands, but:

that's probably not going to work for the final reason you outlined.
Even though it's root only access(to sysfs) we're breaking the authentication
lower down by essentially allowing any opal command to be ran if you've somehow
become root.

The other issue with this is the session time out in opal. When we dispatch the commands
in-kernel we're hammering them out 1-by-1. If the user needs to do an activatelsp,
setuplr, etc. They do that with a new session.

If someone starts the session and it times out it may be hard to figure out how to not
get an SP_BUSY back from the controller. I've in the past just had to wipe my damn
fw to get out of SP_BUSYs, but that could be due to the early implementations I was
dealing with.

> I already did some basic work to split of the session-information from
> the opal_dev struct (initially to reduce the memory-footprint of devices with
> currently no active opal-interaction). So I think, I could get a
> proof-of-concept of this approach within the next one or two weeks if
> there are no objections to the base idea.

Sorry to ocme back a week later, but if you do have anything it would be at least
interesting to see. I would still prefer the ioctl route, but will review and test
any implementation people deem acceptable. 

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