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Date:   Mon, 11 Feb 2019 10:04:32 -0500
From:   Neil Horman <>
To:     Marcelo Ricardo Leitner <>
Cc:     David Miller <>,,,,,,
Subject: Re: [PATCH net] sctp: make sctp_setsockopt_events() less strict
 about the option length

On Sun, Feb 10, 2019 at 10:46:16AM -0200, Marcelo Ricardo Leitner wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 09, 2019 at 03:12:17PM -0800, David Miller wrote:
> > From: Marcelo Ricardo Leitner <>
> > Date: Wed, 6 Feb 2019 18:37:54 -0200
> > 
> > > On Wed, Feb 06, 2019 at 12:14:30PM -0800, Julien Gomes wrote:
> > >> Make sctp_setsockopt_events() able to accept sctp_event_subscribe
> > >> structures longer than the current definitions.
> > >> 
> > >> This should prevent unjustified setsockopt() failures due to struct
> > >> sctp_event_subscribe extensions (as in 4.11 and 4.12) when using
> > >> binaries that should be compatible, but were built with later kernel
> > >> uapi headers.
> > > 
> > > Not sure if we support backwards compatibility like this?
> > 
> > What a complete mess we have here.
> > 
> > Use new socket option numbers next time, do not change the size and/or
> > layout of existing socket options.
> What about reusing the same socket option, but defining a new struct?
> Say, MYSOCKOPT supports struct mysockopt, struct mysockopt2, struct
> mysockopt3...
> That way we have a clear definition of the user's intent.
Thats possible, but I think thats pretty equivalaent to what daves saying, in
that he wants us to identify all the sizes of this struct and the git history
and act on them accordingly.  Having internal versions of the struct seems like
a fine way to get there, but I think we need to consider how we got to this
situations before we go down the implementation path.

> > 
> > This whole thread, if you read it, is basically "if we compatability
> > this way, that breaks, and if we do compatability this other way oh
> > shit this other thing doesn't work."
> > 
> > I think we really need to specifically check for the difference sizes
> > that existed one by one, clear out the part not given by the user, and
> > backport this as far back as possible in a way that in the older kernels
> > we see if the user is actually trying to use the new features and if so
> > error out.
> I'm afraid clearing out may not be enough, though seems it's the best
> we can do so far. If the struct is allocated but not fully initialized
> via a memset, but by setting its fields one by one, the remaining new
> fields will be left uninitinialized.

I'm not sure this even makes sense.  Currently (as I understood it), the issue
we are facing is the one in which an application is built against a newer kernel
and run on an older one, the implication there being that the application will
pass in a buffer that is larger than what the kernel expects.  In that
situation, clearing isn't needed, all thats needed (I think), is a memcmp of the
space between the sizeof(kernel struct version), and sizeof(userspace struct
version) to see if any bits are non-zero.  If they are, we error out, otherwise,
we ignore the space and move forward as though that overage doesn't exist.

Mind you, I'm not (yet) advocating for that approach, just trying to clarify
whats needed.
> > 
> > Which, btw, is terrible behavior.  Newly compiled apps should work on
> > older kernels if they don't try to use the new features, and if they
> One use case here is: a given distro is using kernel X and app Foo is
> built against it. Then upgrades to X+1, Foo is patched to fix an issue
> and is rebuilt against X+1. The user upgrades Foo package but for
> whatever reason, doesn't upgrade kernel or reboot the system. Here,
> Foo doesn't work anymore until the new kernel is also running.
Yes, thats the use case that we're trying to address.

> > can the ones that want to try to use the new features should be able
> > to fall back when that feature isn't available in a non-ambiguous
> > and precisely defined way.
> > 
> > The fact that the use of the new feature is hidden in the new
> > structure elements is really rotten.
> > 
> > This patch, at best, needs some work and definitely a longer and more
> > detailed commit message.
FWIW, before we decide on a course of action, I think I need to point out that,
over the last 10 years, we've extended this structure 6 times, in the following

The first two I believe were modifications during a period when sctp was
actually getting integrated to the kernel, but the last 4 were definately done
during more recent development periods and wen't in without any commentary about
the impact to UAPI compatibility.  The check for optlen > sizeof(struct
sctp_event_subscribe) was made back in 2008, and while not spelled out, seems
pretty clearly directed at enforcing compatibility with older appliations, not
compatibility with newer applications running on older kernels.

I really worry about situations in which we need to support applications
expecting features that the running kernel doesn't have.  In this particular
situation it seems like a fixable thing, but I could envision situations in
which we just can't do it, and I don't want to set that expectation when we
can't consistently meet it.

So, if the consensus is that we need to support applications built on newer
kernels, but run on older kernels (and I'd like to get verbal consensus on
that), then we need to identify a method to fix this.  I'm still hesitant to
do anything that involves us accepting any size buffer over the kernel expected
size, as that puts us in a position to have to read large amounts of user data
(i.e. possible DOS), and just picking an arbitrary large number to limit the
buffer size seems wrong.  What if, on receipt of a structure from a newer kernel
(implying a size larger than what the kernel expects), we clamp optlen to the
kernel size, and put_user it back to the application?  i.e. we don't check any
data above and beyond what the the kernel knows about, but we use the optlen as
an indicator to user space that not all the data was processed?  That allows the
kernel to ignore the overage safely, and while its not in the socket api
extension RFC, its not violating anything, and is something we can document in
the sctp(7) man page as a linux only behavior.


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