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Date:   Fri, 7 Oct 2022 09:55:33 -0700
To:     "Toke Høiland-Jørgensen" <>
Cc:     Daniel Borkmann <>,
        Alexei Starovoitov <>,
        bpf <>,
        Nikolay Aleksandrov <>,
        Alexei Starovoitov <>,
        Andrii Nakryiko <>,
        Martin KaFai Lau <>,
        John Fastabend <>,
        Joanne Koong <>,
        Kumar Kartikeya Dwivedi <>,
        Joe Stringer <>,
        Network Development <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH bpf-next 01/10] bpf: Add initial fd-based API to attach tc
 BPF programs

On 10/07, Toke H�iland-J�rgensen wrote:
> Daniel Borkmann <> writes:

> > On 10/7/22 1:28 AM, Alexei Starovoitov wrote:
> >> On Thu, Oct 6, 2022 at 2:29 PM Daniel Borkmann <>  
> wrote:
> >>> On 10/6/22 7:00 AM, Alexei Starovoitov wrote:
> >>>> On Wed, Oct 05, 2022 at 01:11:34AM +0200, Daniel Borkmann wrote:
> >>> [...]
> >>>>
> >>>> I cannot help but feel that prio logic copy-paste from old tc,  
> netfilter and friends
> >>>> is done because "that's how things were done in the past".
> >>>> imo it was a well intentioned mistake and all networking things (tc,  
> netfilter, etc)
> >>>> copy-pasted that cumbersome and hard to use concept.
> >>>> Let's throw away that baggage?
> >>>> In good set of cases the bpf prog inserter cares whether the prog is  
> first or not.
> >>>> Since the first prog returning anything but TC_NEXT will be final.
> >>>> I think prog insertion flags: 'I want to run first' vs 'I don't care  
> about order'
> >>>> is good enough in practice. Any complex scheme should probably be  
> programmable
> >>>> as any policy should. For example in Meta we have 'xdp chainer'  
> logic that is similar
> >>>> to libxdp chaining, but we added a feature that allows a prog to  
> jump over another
> >>>> prog and continue the chain. Priority concept cannot express that.
> >>>> Since we'd have to add some "policy program" anyway for use cases  
> like this
> >>>> let's keep things as simple as possible?
> >>>> Then maybe we can adopt this "as-simple-as-possible" to XDP hooks ?
> >>>> And allow bpf progs chaining in the kernel with "run_me_first"  
> vs "run_me_anywhere"
> >>>> in both tcx and xdp ?
> >>>> Naturally "run_me_first" prog will be the only one. No need for  
> F_REPLACE flags, etc.
> >>>> The owner of "run_me_first" will update its prog through  
> bpf_link_update.
> >>>> "run_me_anywhere" will add to the end of the chain.
> >>>> In XDP for compatibility reasons "run_me_first" will be the default.
> >>>> Since only one prog can be enqueued with such flag it will match  
> existing single prog behavior.
> >>>> Well behaving progs will use (like xdp-tcpdump or monitoring progs)  
> will use "run_me_anywhere".
> >>>> I know it's far from covering plenty of cases that we've discussed  
> for long time,
> >>>> but prio concept isn't really covering them either.
> >>>> We've struggled enough with single xdp prog, so certainly not  
> advocating for that.
> >>>> Another alternative is to do: "queue_at_head" vs "queue_at_tail".  
> Just as simple.
> >>>> Both simple versions have their pros and cons and don't cover  
> everything,
> >>>> but imo both are better than prio.
> >>>
> >>> Yeah, it's kind of tricky, imho. The 'run_me_first'  
> vs 'run_me_anywhere' are two
> >>> use cases that should be covered (and actually we kind of do this in  
> this set, too,
> >>> with the prios via prio=x vs prio=0). Given users will only be  
> consuming the APIs
> >>> via libs like libbpf, this can also be abstracted this way w/o users  
> having to be
> >>> aware of prios.
> >>
> >> but the patchset tells different story.
> >> Prio gets exposed everywhere in uapi all the way to bpftool
> >> when it's right there for users to understand.
> >> And that's the main problem with it.
> >> The user don't want to and don't need to be aware of it,
> >> but uapi forces them to pick the priority.
> >>
> >>> Anyway, where it gets tricky would be when things depend on ordering,
> >>> e.g. you have BPF progs doing: policy, monitoring, lb, monitoring,  
> encryption, which
> >>> would be sth you can build today via tc BPF: so policy one acts as a  
> prefilter for
> >>> various cidr ranges that should be blocked no matter what, then  
> monitoring to sample
> >>> what goes into the lb, then lb itself which does snat/dnat, then  
> monitoring to see what
> >>> the corresponding pkt looks that goes to backend, and maybe  
> encryption to e.g. send
> >>> the result to wireguard dev, so it's encrypted from lb node to  
> backend.
> >>
> >> That's all theory. Your cover letter example proves that in
> >> real life different service pick the same priority.
> >> They simply don't know any better.
> >> prio is an unnecessary magic that apps _have_ to pick,
> >> so they just copy-paste and everyone ends up using the same.
> >>
> >>> For such
> >>> example, you'd need prios as the 'run_me_anywhere' doesn't guarantee  
> order, so there's
> >>> a case for both scenarios (concrete layout vs loose one), and for  
> latter we could
> >>> start off with and internal prio around x (e.g. 16k), so there's room  
> to attach in
> >>> front via fixed prio, but also append to end for 'don't care', and  
> that could be
> >>> from lib pov the default/main API whereas prio would be some kind of  
> extended one.
> >>> Thoughts?
> >>
> >> If prio was not part of uapi, like kernel internal somehow,
> >> and there was a user space daemon, systemd, or another bpf prog,
> >> module, whatever that users would interface to then
> >> the proposed implementation of prio would totally make sense.
> >> prio as uapi is not that.
> >
> > A good analogy to this issue might be systemd's unit files.. you  
> specify dependencies
> > for your own <unit> file via 'Wants=<unitA>', and ordering  
> via 'Before=<unitB>' and
> > 'After=<unitC>' and they refer to other unit files. I think that is  
> generally okay,
> > you don't deal with prio numbers, but rather some kind textual  
> representation. However
> > user/operator will have to deal with dependencies/ordering one way or  
> another, the
> > problem here is that we deal with kernel and loader talks to kernel  
> directly so it
> > has no awareness of what else is running or could be running, so apps  
> needs to deal
> > with it somehow (and it cannot without external help).

> I was thinking a little about how this might work; i.e., how can the
> kernel expose the required knobs to allow a system policy to be
> implemented without program loading having to talk to anything other
> than the syscall API?

> How about we only expose prepend/append in the prog attach UAPI, and
> then have a kernel function that does the sorting like:

> int bpf_add_new_tcx_prog(struct bpf_prog *progs, size_t num_progs, struct  
> bpf_prog *new_prog, bool append)

> where the default implementation just appends/prepends to the array in
> progs depending on the value of 'appen'.

> And then use the __weak linking trick (or maybe struct_ops with a member
> for TXC, another for XDP, etc?) to allow BPF to override the function
> wholesale and implement whatever ordering it wants? I.e., allow it can
> to just shift around the order of progs in the 'progs' array whenever a
> program is loaded/unloaded?

> This way, a userspace daemon can implement any policy it wants by just
> attaching to that hook, and keeping things like how to express
> dependencies as a userspace concern?

What if we do the above, but instead of simple global 'attach first/last',
the default api would be:

- attach before <target_fd>
- attach after <target_fd>
- attach before target_fd=-1 == first
- attach after target_fd=-1 == last


That might be flexible enough by default to allow users to
append/prepend to any existing program in the chain (say, for
monitoring). Flexible enough for some central daemons to do
systemd-style policy. And, with bpf_add_new_tcx_prog, flexible
enough to implement any policy?

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