Possible use_mm() mis-uses

Linus Torvalds torvalds at linux-foundation.org
Wed Aug 22 16:44:48 UTC 2018

Guys and gals,
 this is a *very* random list of people on the recipients list, but we
had a subtle TLB shootdown issue in the VM, and that brought up some
issues when people then went through the code more carefully.

I think we have a handle on the TLB shootdown bug itself. But when
people were discussing all the possible situations, one thing that
came up was "use_mm()" that takes a mm, and makes it temporarily the
mm for a kernel thread (until "unuse_mm()", duh).

And it turns out that some of those uses are definitely wrong, some of
them are right, and some of them are suspect or at least so overly
complicated that it's hard for the VM people to know if they are ok.

Basically, the rule for "use_mm()" is that the mm in question *has* to
have a valid page table associated with it over the whole use_mm() ->
unuse_mm() sequence. That may sound obvious, and I guess it actually
is so obvious that there isn't even a comment about it, but the actual
users are showing that it's sadly apparently not so obvious after all.

There is one user that uses the "obviously correct" model: the vhost
driver does a "mmget()" and "mmput()" pair around its use of it,
thanks to vhost_dev_set_owner() doing a

        dev->mm = get_task_mm(current);

to look up the mm, and then the teardown case does a

        if (dev->mm)
        dev->mm = NULL;

This is the *right* sequence. A gold star to the vhost people.

Sadly, the vhost people are the only ones who seem to get things
unquestionably right. And some of those gold star people are also
apparently involved in the cases that didn't get things right.

An example of something that *isn't* right, is the i915 kvm interface,
which does


on an mm that was initialized in virt/kvm/kvm_main.c using

        kvm->mm = current->mm;

which is *not* right. Using "mmgrab()" does indeed guarantee the
lifetime of the 'struct mm_struct' itself, but it does *not* guarantee
the lifetime of the page tables. You need to use "mmget()" and
"mmput()", which get the reference to the actual process address

Now, it is *possible* that the kvm use is correct too, because kvm
does register a mmu_notifier chain, and in theory you can avoid the
proper refcounting by just making sure the mmu "release" notifier
kills any existing uses, but I don't really see kvm doing that. Kvm
does register a release notifier, but that just flushes the shadow
page tables, it doesn't kill any use_mm() use by some i915 use case.

So while the vhost use looks right, the kvm/i915 use looks definitely wrong.

The other users of "use_mm()" and "unuse_mm()" are less
black-and-white right vs wrong..

One of the complex ones is the amdgpu driver. It does a
"use_mm(mmptr)" deep deep in the guts of a macro that ends up being
used in fa few places, and it's very hard to tell if it's right.

It looks almost certainly buggy (there is no mmget/mmput to get the
refcount), but there _is_ a "release" mmu_notifier function and that
one - unlike the kvm case - looks like it might actually be trying to
flush the existing pending users of that mm.

But on the whole, I'm suspicious of the amdgpu use. It smells. Jann
Horn pointed out that even if it migth be ok due to the mmu_notifier,
the comments are garbage:

>  Where "process" in the uniquely-named "struct queue" is a "struct
>  kfd_process"; that struct's definition has this comment in it:
>        /*
>         * Opaque pointer to mm_struct. We don't hold a reference to
>         * it so it should never be dereferenced from here. This is
>         * only used for looking up processes by their mm.
>         */
>        void *mm;
>  So I think either that comment is wrong, or their code is wrong?

so I'm chalking the amdgpu use up in the "broken" column.

It's also actually quite hard to synchronze with some other kernel
worker thread correctly, so just on general principles, if you use
"use_mm()" it really really should be on something that you've
properly gotten a mm refcount on with mmget(). Really. Even if you try
to synchronize things.

The two final cases are two uses in the USB gadget driver. Again, they
don't have the proper mmget/mmput, but they may br ok simply because
the uses are done for AIO, and the VM teardown is preceded by an AIO
teardown, so the proper serialization may come in from that.

Anyway, sorry for the long email, and the big list of participants and
odd mailing lists, but I'd really like people to look at their
"use_mm()" cases, and ask themselves if they have done enough to
guarantee that the full mm exists. Again, "mmgrab()" is *not* enough
on its own. You need either "mmget()" or some lifetime guarantee.

And if you do have those lifetime guarantees, it would be really nice
to get a good explanatory comment about said lifetime guarantees above
the "use_mm()" call. Ok?

Note that the lifetime rules are very important, because obviously
use_mm() itself is never called in the context of the process that has
the mm. By definition, we're in a kernel thread and it uses somebody
elses mm. So it's important to show that that "somebody else" really
is serialized with the kernel thread somehow, and keeps the mm alive.
The easiest way by far to have that guarantee is to have that
"mmget/mmput" model.

Please? Even if you're convinced your code is right, just a comment
about _why_ it's right, ok?

And no, use_mm() cannot just do the mmget internally, only to have
unuse_mm() do the mmput().  That was our first reaction when looking
at this, but if the caller has screwed up the lifetime rules, it's not
actually clear that the mm is guaranteed to be around even when use_mm
is entered. So the onus of proper lifetime rules really is on the
caller, not on use_mm()/unuse_mm().


More information about the intel-gvt-dev mailing list