Thomas, could you comment on the Netlink related questions I have posed
> On Thu, 28 Feb 2008, Ian Kent wrote:
> > >
> > > We seem to be passing some string into a misc-device ioctl and getting some
> > > results back. Be aware that this won't be a terribly popular proposal, so
> > > I'd suggest that you fully describe the problem which it's trying to solve,
> > > and how it solves it, and why the various alternatives (sysfs, netlink,
> > > mount options, etc) were judged unsuitable.
> > Yes, as I said above.
> > I don't expect that people that aren't close to the development of
> > autofs will "get" the problem description in the leading post but I will
> > try and expand on it as best I can.
> > As for the possible alternatives, it sounds like I have some more work
> > to do on that. Mount options can't be used as I described in the lead in
> > post and, as far as my understanding of sysfs goes, I don't think it's
> > appropriate. But, I'm not aware of what the netlink interface may be
> > able to do for me so I will need to check on that.
> I've attempted an implementation of this using the Generic Netlink
> interface and I've struck a difficulty. I would like to use current
> recommended development policy but I'm not sure how far I should go with
> this in order to avoid using an ioctl implementation so I'm after some
> advice and suggestions.
> So, onto the description.
> Sorry about the length of the post.
> Autofs user space uses a number of ioctls for mount control.
> I have a problem that can only be resolved by adding an additional control
> function that doesn't need to open the autofs mount point path directly
> to issue ioctl commands. So I decided to re-implement the the control
> interface, hopefully, in a cleaner way and solve a couple of other
> problems at the same time (by adding two additional control functions
> giving a total of three new functions) and improving one of the existing
> My initial proposal used a miscellaneous device to route ioctl commands to
> autofs mounts and the question of why current recommended alternatives
> were not suitable was asked. The only alternative that may be suitable is
> the Netlink interface.
> I won't go into the details of the new functions now but focus on the
> difficulty I have found implementing one of the existing functions using
> the Netlink interface.
> There are some restrictions on the scope of the change.
> The scope is only the ioctl interface. I don't want change too many things
> at once, in particular things that are currently working OK. And I'd like
> to retain the existing semantic behavior of the interface.
> The function that is a problem is the sending of expire requests. In the
> current implementation this function is synchronous. An ioctl is used to
> ask the kernel module (autofs4) to check for mounts that can be expired
> and, if a candidate is found the module sends a request to the user space
> daemon asking it to try and umount the select mount after which the daemon
> sends a success or fail status back to the module which marks the
> completion of the original ioctl expire request.
> The Generic Netlink interface won't allow this because only one concurrent
> send request can be active for "all" Generic Netlink Families in use,
> since the socket receive function is bracketed by a single mutex. So I would
> need to use a workqueue to queue the request but that has it's own set of
> A workqueue can have only one active request going at a time but I may
> have a number of concurrent expires happening at any one time and the
> request could block for a significant amount of time so I would have to
> use multiple queues. Also there isn't a one-to-one correspondence
> between autofs super blocks and the stream of expire requests so the
> number of needed workqueues isn't known. Hence, a workqueue would need to
> be created, used and destroyed for every umount request or some other
> elaborate mechanism developed to re-use workqueues. Ideas?
> The next issue is that in order to keep track of multiple in flight
> requests a separate Netlink socket would need to be opened for every
> expire request in order to ensure that the Netlink completion reply makes
> it back to the original requesting thread (Is that actually correct?). Not
> really such a big problem but it defeats another aim of the
> re-implementation, which is to reduce the selinux user space exposure to
> file descriptors that are open but don't yet have close-on-exec flag set
> when a mount or umount is spawned by the automount daemon. This can
> obviously be resolved by adding a mutex around the fork/exec code but
> isn't a popular idea due to added performance overhead.
> That's about it for a Generic Netlink solution.
> It looks like it may be possible to avoid the need to use workqueues by
> adding a new netlink protocol. I didn't notice any mutual exclusion
> issues in the code but I may not have looked far enough (comments
> please?). This approach would still have the issue of needing a new socket
> opened for each expire for the tracking multiple requests and a
> considerable increase in complexity in the autofs4 module for netlink
> I'm concerned about the effort I would need to devote to make this work
> and the increase in complexity that may be needed, especially if the
> implementation is ultimately not satisfactory for inclusion in the kernel.
> Please help!
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