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Date:   Mon, 8 Apr 2019 18:31:35 +0100
From:   Joao Martins <>
To:     Juergen Gross <>
Cc:     Paolo Bonzini <>,,,
        Ankur Arora <>,
        Boris Ostrovsky <>,
        Radim Krčmář <>,
        Thomas Gleixner <>,
        Ingo Molnar <>, Borislav Petkov <>,
        "H. Peter Anvin" <>,,
        Stefano Stabellini <>,
Subject: Re: [PATCH RFC 00/39] x86/KVM: Xen HVM guest support

On 4/8/19 11:42 AM, Juergen Gross wrote:
> On 08/04/2019 12:36, Joao Martins wrote:
>> On 4/8/19 7:44 AM, Juergen Gross wrote:
>>> On 12/03/2019 18:14, Joao Martins wrote:
>>>> On 2/22/19 4:59 PM, Paolo Bonzini wrote:
>>>>> On 21/02/19 12:45, Joao Martins wrote:
>>>>>> On 2/20/19 9:09 PM, Paolo Bonzini wrote:
>>>>>>> On 20/02/19 21:15, Joao Martins wrote:
>>>>>>>>  2. PV Driver support (patches 17 - 39)
>>>>>>>>  We start by redirecting hypercalls from the backend to routines
>>>>>>>>  which emulate the behaviour that PV backends expect i.e. grant
>>>>>>>>  table and interdomain events. Next, we add support for late
>>>>>>>>  initialization of xenbus, followed by implementing
>>>>>>>>  frontend/backend communication mechanisms (i.e. grant tables and
>>>>>>>>  interdomain event channels). Finally, introduce xen-shim.ko,
>>>>>>>>  which will setup a limited Xen environment. This uses the added
>>>>>>>>  functionality of Xen specific shared memory (grant tables) and
>>>>>>>>  notifications (event channels).
>>>>>>> I am a bit worried by the last patches, they seem really brittle and
>>>>>>> prone to breakage.  I don't know Xen well enough to understand if the
>>>>>>> lack of support for GNTMAP_host_map is fixable, but if not, you have to
>>>>>>> define a completely different hypercall.
>>>>>> I guess Ankur already answered this; so just to stack this on top of his comment.
>>>>>> The xen_shim_domain() is only meant to handle the case where the backend
>>>>>> has/can-have full access to guest memory [i.e. netback and blkback would work
>>>>>> with similar assumptions as vhost?]. For the normal case, where a backend *in a
>>>>>> guest* maps and unmaps other guest memory, this is not applicable and these
>>>>>> changes don't affect that case.
>>>>>> IOW, the PV backend here sits on the hypervisor, and the hypercalls aren't
>>>>>> actual hypercalls but rather invoking shim_hypercall(). The call chain would go
>>>>>> more or less like:
>>>>>> <netback|blkback|scsiback>
>>>>>>  gnttab_map_refs(map_ops, pages)
>>>>>>    HYPERVISOR_grant_table_op(GNTTABOP_map_grant_ref,...)
>>>>>>      shim_hypercall()
>>>>>>        shim_hcall_gntmap()
>>>>>> Our reasoning was that given we are already in KVM, why mapping a page if the
>>>>>> user (i.e. the kernel PV backend) is himself? The lack of GNTMAP_host_map is how
>>>>>> the shim determines its user doesn't want to map the page. Also, there's another
>>>>>> issue where PV backends always need a struct page to reference the device
>>>>>> inflight data as Ankur pointed out.
>>>>> Ultimately it's up to the Xen people.  It does make their API uglier,
>>>>> especially the in/out change for the parameter.  If you can at least
>>>>> avoid that, it would alleviate my concerns quite a bit.
>>>> In my view, we have two options overall:
>>>> 1) Make it explicit, the changes the PV drivers we have to make in
>>>> order to support xen_shim_domain(). This could mean e.g. a) add a callback
>>>> argument to gnttab_map_refs() that is invoked for every page that gets looked up
>>>> successfully, and inside this callback the PV driver may update it's tracking
>>>> page. Here we no longer have this in/out parameter in gnttab_map_refs, and all
>>>> shim_domain specific bits would be a little more abstracted from Xen PV
>>>> backends. See netback example below the scissors mark. Or b) have sort of a
>>>> translate_gref() and put_gref() API that Xen PV drivers use which make it even
>>>> more explicit that there's no grant ops involved. The latter is more invasive.
>>>> 2) The second option is to support guest grant mapping/unmapping [*] to allow
>>>> hosting PV backends inside the guest. This would remove the Xen changes in this
>>>> series completely. But it would require another guest being used
>>>> as netback/blkback/xenstored, and less performance than 1) (though, in theory,
>>>> it would be equivalent to what does Xen with grants/events). The only changes in
>>>> Linux Xen code is adding xenstored domain support, but that is useful on its own
>>>> outside the scope of this work.
>>>> I think there's value on both; 1) is probably more familiar for KVM users
>>>> perhaps (as it is similar to what vhost does?) while  2) equates to implementing
>>>> Xen disagregation capabilities in KVM.
>>>> Thoughts? Xen maintainers what's your take on this?
>>> What I'd like best would be a new handle (e.g. xenhost_t *) used as an
>>> abstraction layer for this kind of stuff. It should be passed to the
>>> backends and those would pass it on to low-level Xen drivers (xenbus,
>>> event channels, grant table, ...).
>> So if IIRC backends would use the xenhost layer to access grants or frames
>> referenced by grants, and that would grok into some of this. IOW, you would have
>> two implementors of xenhost: one for nested remote/local events+grants and
>> another for this "shim domain" ?
> As I'd need that for nested Xen I guess that would make it 3 variants.
> Probably the xen-shim variant would need more hooks, but that should be
> no problem.
I probably messed up in the short description but "nested remote/local
events+grants" was referring to nested Xen (FWIW remote meant L0 and local L1).
So maybe only 2 variants are needed?

>>> I was planning to do that (the xenhost_t * stuff) soon in order to add
>>> support for nested Xen using PV devices (you need two Xenstores for that
>>> as the nested dom0 is acting as Xen backend server, while using PV
>>> frontends for accessing the "real" world outside).
>>> The xenhost_t should be used for:
>>> - accessing Xenstore
>>> - issuing and receiving events
>>> - doing hypercalls
>>> - grant table operations
>> In the text above, I sort of suggested a slice of this on 1.b) with a
>> translate_gref() and put_gref() API -- to get the page from a gref. This was
>> because of the flags|host_addr hurdle we depicted above wrt to using using grant
>> maps/unmaps. You think some of the xenhost layer would be ammenable to support
>> this case?
> I think so, yes.
>>> So exactly the kind of stuff you want to do, too.
>> Cool idea!
> In the end you might make my life easier for nested Xen. :-)
Hehe :)

> Do you want to have a try with that idea or should I do that? I might be
> able to start working on that in about a month.
Ankur (CC'ed) will give a shot at it, and should start a new thread on this
xenhost abstraction layer.


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