[PATCH v6 0/6] arm64: Add kernel probes (kprobes) support

William Cohen wcohen at redhat.com
Tue May 5 20:14:26 PDT 2015

On 05/05/2015 05:02 PM, William Cohen wrote:
> On 05/05/2015 11:48 AM, Will Deacon wrote:
>> On Tue, May 05, 2015 at 06:14:51AM +0100, David Long wrote:
>>> On 05/01/15 21:44, William Cohen wrote:
>>>> Dave Long and I did some additional experimentation to better
>>>> understand what is condition causes the kernel to sometimes spew:
>>>> Unexpected kernel single-step exception at EL1
>>>> The functioncallcount.stp test instruments the entry and return of
>>>> every function in the mm files, including kfree.  In most cases the
>>>> arm64 trampoline_probe_handler just determines which return probe
>>>> instance matches the current conditions, runs the associated handler,
>>>> and recycles the return probe instance for another use by placing it
>>>> on a hlist.  However, it is possible that a return probe instance has
>>>> been set up on function entry and the return probe is unregistered
>>>> before the return probe instance fires.  In this case kfree is called
>>>> by the trampoline handler to remove the return probe instances related
>>>> to the unregistered kretprobe.  This case where the the kprobed kfree
>>>> is called within the arm64 trampoline_probe_handler function trigger
>>>> the problem.
>>>> The kprobe breakpoint for the kfree call from within the
>>>> trampoline_probe_handler is encountered and started, but things go
>>>> wrong when attempting the single step on the instruction.
>>>> It took a while to trigger this problem with the sytemtap testsuite.
>>>> Dave Long came up with steps that reproduce this more quickly with a
>>>> probed function that is always called within the trampoline handler.
>>>> Trying the same on x86_64 doesn't trigger the problem.  It appears
>>>> that the x86_64 code can handle a single step from within the
>>>> trampoline_handler.
>>> I'm assuming there are no plans for supporting software breakpoint debug 
>>> exceptions during processing of single-step exceptions, any time soon on 
>>> arm64.  Given that the only solution that I can come with for this is 
>>> instead of making this orphaned kretprobe instance list exist only 
>>> temporarily (in the scope of the kretprobe trampoline handler), make it 
>>> always exist and kfree any items found on it as part of a periodic 
>>> cleanup running outside of the handler context.  I think these changes 
>>> would still all be in archiecture-specific code.  This doesn't feel to 
>>> me like a bad solution.  Does anyone think there is a simpler way out of 
>>> this?
>> Just to clarify, is the problem here the software breakpoint exception,
>> or trying to step the faulting instruction whilst we were already handling
>> a step?
>> I think I'd be inclined to keep the code run in debug context to a minimum.
>> We already can't block there, and the more code we add the more black spots
>> we end up with in the kernel itself. The alternative would be to make your
>> kprobes code re-entrant, but that sounds like a nightmare.
>> You say this works on x86. How do they handle it? Is the nested probe
>> on kfree ignored or handled?
>> Will
> Hi Dave and Will,
> The attached patch attempts to eliminate the need for the breakpoint in the trampoline.  It is modeled after the x86_64 code and just saves the register state, calls the trampoline handler, and then fixes the return address.  The code compiles, but I have NOT verified that it works. It looks feasible to do things this way.  In addition to avoiding the possible issue with a kretprobe on kfree it would also make the kretprobes faster because it would avoid the breakpoint exception and the associated kprobe handling in the trampoline.
> -Will

Hi Dave and Will,

Attached is a revised version of the patch to avoid using a kprobe breakpoint in the trampoline.  It shows signs of working, but is still a work in progress.

-Will Cohen
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