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Date:   Mon, 11 Feb 2019 15:31:59 +0100
From:   Thomas Petazzoni <>
To:     Andrew Lunn <>
Cc:     Florian Fainelli <>,
        "David S . Miller" <>,,,
        Paul Kocialkowski <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH] net: phy: mdio_bus: add missing device_del() in
 mdiobus_register() error handling

Hello Andrew,

On Wed, 16 Jan 2019 16:44:39 +0100
Andrew Lunn <> wrote:

> > On Wed, 16 Jan 2019 15:48:29 +0100, Andrew Lunn wrote:
> >   
> > > Reviewed-by: Andrew Lunn <>
> > > 
> > > However, i wounder if it makes sense to add a label before the
> > > existing device_del() at the end of the function, and convert this,
> > > and the case above into a goto? That might scale better, avoiding the
> > > same issue in the future?  
> > 
> > That's another option indeed.
> > 
> > Hmm, now that I looked at it, I think we should use device_unregister()
> > instead. device_unregister() does both device_del() and put_device().  
> Hi Thomas
> device_unregister() does seem symmetrical with device_register() which
> is what we are trying to undo.

Even if DaveM already merged my simple fix, I had a further look at
whether we should be using device_unregister(), and in fact we should
not, but not really for a good reason: because the mdio API is not very

The typical flow is:

	probe() {
		bus = mdiobus_alloc();
		if (!bus)
			return -ENOMEM;

		ret = mdiobus_register(&bus);
		if (ret) {


	remove() {

mdiobus_alloc() only does memory allocation, i.e it has no side effects
on the device model data structures.

mdiobus_register() does a device_register(). If it fails, it only
cleans up with a device_del(), i.e it doesn't do the put_device() that
it should do to fully "undo" its effect.

mdiobus_unregister() does a device_del(), i.e it also doesn't do the
opposite of mdiobus_register(), which should be device_del() +
put_device() (device_unregister() is a shortcut for both).

mdiobus_free() does the put_device()


 * mdiobus_alloc() / mdiobus_free() are not symmetrical in terms of
   their interaction with the device model data structures

 * On error, mdiobus_register() leaves a non-zero reference count to the
   bus->dev structure, which will be freed up by mdiobus_free()

 * mdiobus_unregister() leaves a non-zero reference count to the
   bus->dev structure, which will be freed up by mdiobus_free()

So, if we were to use device_unregister() in the error path of
mdiobus_register() and in mdiobus_unregister(), it would break how
mdiobus_free() works.

Best regards,

Thomas Petazzoni, CTO, Bootlin
Embedded Linux and Kernel engineering

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