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Re: [RFC PATCH 0/2] kpatch: dynamic kernel patching

From:  Jiri Kosina <jkosina-AT-suse.cz>
To:  Josh Poimboeuf <jpoimboe-AT-redhat.com>
Subject:  Re: [RFC PATCH 0/2] kpatch: dynamic kernel patching
Date:  Fri, 2 May 2014 15:10:58 +0200 (CEST)
Message-ID:  <alpine.LRH.2.00.1405021504320.22053@twin.jikos.cz>
Cc:  Seth Jennings <sjenning-AT-redhat.com>, Masami Hiramatsu <masami.hiramatsu.pt-AT-hitachi.com>, Steven Rostedt <rostedt-AT-goodmis.org>, Frederic Weisbecker <fweisbec-AT-gmail.com>, Ingo Molnar <mingo-AT-redhat.com>, Jiri Slaby <jslaby-AT-suse.cz>, linux-kernel-AT-vger.kernel.org
Archive-link:  Article

On Thu, 1 May 2014, Josh Poimboeuf wrote:

> kpatch vs kGraft
> ----------------
> 
> I think the biggest difference between kpatch and kGraft is how they
> ensure that the patch is applied atomically and safely.
> 
> kpatch checks the backtraces of all tasks in stop_machine() to ensure
> that no instances of the old function are running when the new function
> is applied.  I think the biggest downside of this approach is that
> stop_machine() has to idle all other CPUs during the patching process,
> so it inserts a small amount of latency (a few ms on an idle system).
> 
> Instead, kGraft uses per-task consistency: each task either sees the old
> version or the new version of the function.  This gives a consistent
> view with respect to functions, but _not_ data, because the old and new
> functions are allowed to run simultaneously and share data.  This could
> be dangerous if a patch changes how a function uses a data structure.
> The new function could make a data change that the old function wasn't
> expecting.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but with kPatch, you are also unable to 
do a "flip and forget" switch between functions that expect different 
format of in-memory data without performing a non-trivial all-memory 
lookup to find structures in question and perfoming corresponding 
transformations.

What we can do with kGraft si to perform the patching in two steps

(1) redirect to a temporary band-aid function that can handle both 
    semantics of the data (persumably in highly sub-optimal way)
(2) patching in (1) succeeds completely (kGraft claims victory), start a 
    new round of patching with redirect to the final function which 
    expects only the new semantics

This basically implies that both aproaches need "human inspection" in this 
respect anyway.

-- 
Jiri Kosina
SUSE Labs

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