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Date:   Sun, 3 May 2020 15:13:14 +0100
From:   Jonathan Cameron <jic23@...nel.org>
To:     William Breathitt Gray <vilhelm.gray@...il.com>
Cc:     kamel.bouhara@...tlin.com, gwendal@...omium.org,
        alexandre.belloni@...tlin.com, david@...hnology.com,
        felipe.balbi@...ux.intel.com, fabien.lahoudere@...labora.com,
        linux-iio@...r.kernel.org, linux-kernel@...r.kernel.org,
        linux-stm32@...md-mailman.stormreply.com,
        linux-arm-kernel@...ts.infradead.org, syednwaris@...il.com,
        patrick.havelange@...ensium.com, fabrice.gasnier@...com,
        mcoquelin.stm32@...il.com, alexandre.torgue@...com
Subject: Re: [PATCH 0/4] Introduce the Counter character device interface

On Wed, 29 Apr 2020 14:11:34 -0400
William Breathitt Gray <vilhelm.gray@...il.com> wrote:

> Over the past couple years we have noticed some shortcomings with the
> Counter sysfs interface. Although useful in the majority of situations,
> there are certain use-cases where interacting through sysfs attributes
> can become cumbersome and inefficient. A desire to support more advanced
> functionality such as timestamps, multi-axis positioning tables, and
> other such latency-sensitive applications, has motivated a reevaluation
> of the Counter subsystem. I believe a character device interface will be
> helpful for this more niche area of counter device use.
> 
> To quell any concerns from the offset: this patchset makes no changes to
> the existing Counter sysfs userspace interface -- existing userspace
> applications will continue to work with no modifications necessary. I
> request that driver maintainers please test their applications to verify
> that this is true, and report any discrepancies if they arise.
> 
> However, this patchset does contain a major reimplementation of the
> Counter subsystem core and driver API. A reimplementation was necessary
> in order to separate the sysfs code from the counter device drivers and
> internalize it as a dedicated component of the core Counter subsystem
> module. A minor benefit from all of this is that the sysfs interface is
> now ensured a certain amount of consistency because the translation is
> performed outside of individual counter device drivers.
> 
> Essentially, the reimplementation has enabled counter device drivers to
> pass and handle data as native C datatypes now rather than the sysfs
> strings from before. A high-level view of how a count value is passed
> down from a counter device driver can be exemplified by the following:
> 
>                  ----------------------
>                 / Counter device       \
>                 +----------------------+
>                 | Count register: 0x28 |
>                 +----------------------+
>                         |
>                  -----------------
>                 / raw count data /
>                 -----------------
>                         |
>                         V
>                 +----------------------------+
>                 | Counter device driver      |----------+
>                 +----------------------------+          |
>                 | Processes data from device |   -------------------
>                 |----------------------------|  / driver callbacks /
>                 | Type: unsigned long        |  -------------------
>                 | Value: 42                  |          |
>                 +----------------------------+          |
>                         |                               |
>                  ----------------                       |
>                 / unsigned long /                       |
>                 ----------------                        |
>                         |                               |
>                         |                               V
>                         |               +----------------------+
>                         |               | Counter core         |
>                         |               +----------------------+
>                         |               | Routes device driver |
>                         |               | callbacks to the     |
>                         |               | userspace interfaces |
>                         |               +----------------------+
>                         |                       |
>                         |                -------------------
>                         |               / driver callbacks /
>                         |               -------------------
>                         |                       |
>                 +-------+---------------+       |
>                 |                       |       |
>                 |               +-------|-------+
>                 |               |       |
>                 V               |       V
>         +--------------------+  |  +---------------------+
>         | Counter sysfs      |<-+->| Counter chrdev      |
>         +--------------------+     +---------------------+
>         | Translates to the  |     | Translates to the   |
>         | standard Counter   |     | standard Counter    |
>         | sysfs output       |     | character device    |
>         |--------------------|     |---------------------+
>         | Type: const char * |     | Type: unsigned long |
>         | Value: "42"        |     | Value: 42           |
>         +--------------------+     +---------------------+
>                 |                               |
>          ---------------                 ----------------
>         / const char * /                / unsigned long /
>         ---------------                 ----------------
>                 |                               |
>                 |                               V
>                 |                       +-----------+
>                 |                       | ioctl     |
>                 |                       +-----------+
>                 |                       \ Count: 42 /
>                 |                        -----------
>                 |
>                 V
>         +--------------------------------------------------+
>         | `/sys/bus/counter/devices/counterX/countY/count` |
>         +--------------------------------------------------+
>         \ Count: "42"                                      /
>          --------------------------------------------------
> 
> I am aware that an in-kernel API can simplify the data transfer between
> counter device drivers and the userspace interfaces, but I want to
> postpone that development until after the new Counter character device
> ioctl commands are solidified. A userspace ABI is effectively immutable
> so I want to make sure we get that right before working on an in-kernel
> API that is more flexible to change. However, when we do develop an
> in-kernel API, it will likely be housed as part of the Counter core
> component, through which the userspace interfaces will then communicate.
> 
> Interaction with Counter character devices occurs via ioctl commands.
> This allows userspace applications to access and set counter data using
> native C datatypes rather than working through string translations.
> 
> Regarding the organization of this patchset, I have combined the counter
> device driver changes with the first patch because the changes must all
> be taken together in order to avoid compilation errors. I can see how
> this can end up making it difficult to review so many changes at once,
> so alternatively I can separate out the counter device driver changes
> into their own dedicated patches -- with the understanding that the
> patches must all be taken together.
> 
> In addition, I anticipate the Microchip TCB capture counter driver to
> break with this patchset. I'm not sure how that driver will be picked
> up yet so I have avoided adding it to this patchset right now. But the
> changes to support that driver are simple to make so I can add them in a
> later revision of this patchset.
> 
> The following are some questions I have about this patchset:
> 
> 1. Should enums be used to represent standard counter component states
>    (e.g. COUNTER_SIGNAL_LOW), or would these be better defined as int?
> 
>    These standard counter component states are defined in the
>    counter-types.h file and serve as constants used by counter device
>    drivers and Counter subsystem components in order to ensure a
>    consistent interface.
> 
>    My concern is whether enum constants will cause problems when passed
>    to userspace via the Counter character device ioctl calls. Along the
>    same lines is whether the C bool datatype is safe to pass as well,
>    given that it is a more modern C datatype.

For enums, I'd pass them as integers.

Bool is probably fine either way.

> 
> 2. Should device driver callbacks return int or long? I sometimes see
>    error values returned as long (e.g. PTR_ERR(), the file_operations
>    structure's ioctl callbacks, etc.); when is it necessary to return
>    long as opposed to int?

In my view it doesn't really matter that much.  For PTR_ERR it has to be
a long because a long is always the same length as a pointer, but an int
'might' not be.  However PTR_ERR returns a value that always fits in an
integer anyway.

https://www.oreilly.com/library/view/linux-device-drivers/0596005903/ch11.html

Coding style in linux mostly use int for return values that might indicate
an error.

> 
> 3. I only implemented the unlocked_ioctl callback. Should I implement a
>    compat_ioctl callback as well?

Depends if you need to deal with the 32bit userspace on 64 bit kernel corner
cases.  Looks like you only pass a pointer, in which case I think you
can just use the ioctl_compat_ptr callback to handle it for you.

> 
> 4. How much space should allot for name strings? Name strings hold the
>    names of components (ideally as they appear on datasheets), so I've
>    arbitrarily chosen a size of 32 for the character device interface.
> 
> 5. Should the owning component of an extension be determined by the
>    device driver or Counter subsystem?
> 
>    A lot of the complexity in the counters-function-types.h file and the
>    sysfs-callbacks.c file is due to the function pointer casts required
>    in order to support three different ownership scenarios: the owning
>    component is the device, the owning component is a Count, the owning
>    component is a Signal.
> 
>    Because the Counter subsystem doesn't not know which scenario is
>    valid, it must manually check and provide for all three ownership
>    cases. On the other hand, device drivers do know exactly which case
>    applies because they are the ones providing the callbacks.
> 
>    The complexity in the Counter subsystem code can be eliminated if the
>    owning component is simply passed down to the callbacks as a void
>    pointer. The device drivers will then be responsible for casting to
>    the appropriate component type, but this should in theory not be a
>    problem since the device driver assigned the callback to the owning
>    component in the first place.
> 
> William Breathitt Gray (4):
>   counter: Internalize sysfs interface code
>   docs: counter: Update to reflect sysfs internalization
>   counter: Add character device interface
>   docs: counter: Document character device interface
> 
>  Documentation/driver-api/generic-counter.rst  |  259 ++-
>  .../userspace-api/ioctl/ioctl-number.rst      |    1 +
>  MAINTAINERS                                   |    3 +-
>  drivers/counter/104-quad-8.c                  |  437 +++--
>  drivers/counter/Makefile                      |    2 +
>  drivers/counter/counter-chrdev.c              | 1134 +++++++++++++
>  drivers/counter/counter-chrdev.h              |   16 +
>  drivers/counter/counter-core.c                |  220 +++
>  drivers/counter/counter-function-types.h      |   81 +
>  drivers/counter/counter-strings.h             |   46 +
>  drivers/counter/counter-sysfs-callbacks.c     |  566 +++++++
>  drivers/counter/counter-sysfs-callbacks.h     |   28 +
>  drivers/counter/counter-sysfs.c               |  524 ++++++
>  drivers/counter/counter-sysfs.h               |   14 +
>  drivers/counter/counter.c                     | 1496 -----------------
>  drivers/counter/ftm-quaddec.c                 |   46 +-
>  drivers/counter/stm32-lptimer-cnt.c           |  159 +-
>  drivers/counter/stm32-timer-cnt.c             |  132 +-
>  drivers/counter/ti-eqep.c                     |  170 +-
>  include/linux/counter.h                       |  547 +++---
>  include/linux/counter_enum.h                  |   45 -
>  include/uapi/linux/counter-types.h            |   67 +
>  include/uapi/linux/counter.h                  |  313 ++++
>  23 files changed, 3816 insertions(+), 2490 deletions(-)
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-chrdev.c
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-chrdev.h
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-core.c
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-function-types.h
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-strings.h
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-sysfs-callbacks.c
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-sysfs-callbacks.h
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-sysfs.c
>  create mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter-sysfs.h
>  delete mode 100644 drivers/counter/counter.c
>  delete mode 100644 include/linux/counter_enum.h
>  create mode 100644 include/uapi/linux/counter-types.h
>  create mode 100644 include/uapi/linux/counter.h
> 
> 
> base-commit: 00edef1ac058b3c754d29bcfd35ea998d9e7a339

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