Re: [BUG] signal: sighand unprotected when accessed by /proc

From: Steven Rostedt
Date: Tue Jun 03 2014 - 16:05:39 EST

On Tue, 3 Jun 2014 11:03:49 -0700
Linus Torvalds <torvalds@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> An example of (b) is having a lock that is initialized by the
> constructor, and that everybody else uses properly: you may have
> delayed people locking/unlocking it, but as long as they don't screw
> anything else up they won't break even if the data structure was
> re-used by a new allocations.

I'm trying to wrap my head around this.

I guess it comes down to this code here in __lock_task_sighand:

for (;;) {
sighand = rcu_dereference(tsk->sighand);
if (unlikely(sighand == NULL)) {

< Here's the critical point! >

if (likely(sighand == tsk->sighand)) {

We get the sighand with an rcu_dereference in an rcu_read_lock()
protected section, as the page its on in the slab cache can be freed
with rcu, thus we want to make sure what we get is a sighand and not
anything else. RCU protects us for this.

Now, that sighand can be freed and reallocated as another sighand,
but because it's still a sighand, the lock we are spinning on is some
sighand->lock pointer, whether it is ours or a new one.

Thus when we hit spin_lock(&sighand->siglock) it can be the sighand for
the task we want or reallocated and initialized for a new sighand, and
we are now suddenly spinning on a new lock which we would probably take.

In that case, if we take it, then sighand != tsk->sighand and we
release the lock and try again. Wow, that's very subtle :-p The lock
was switch out right from under us.

> Without looking at the code, it sounds like somebody may doing things
> to "sighand->lock->wait_list" that they shouldn't do. We've had cases
> like that before, and most of them have been changed to *not* use
> SLAB_DESTROY_BY_RCU, and instead make each individual allocation be
> RCU-free'd (which is a lot simpler to think about, because then you
> don't have the whole re-use issue).

Yes, this is exactly what happened. OK, this is an -rt only bug, not a
mainline one :-/

When we convert the spin_lock into a rtmutex, when we hit the lock and
it was contended (the task was in the process of exiting and it takes
the lock to set tsk->sighand to NULL), instead of spinning, the task
adds itself to the lock->wait_list and goes to sleep.

Now, if that lock is released and reused (I didn't trace other tasks
allocating these locks), it reinitializes the lock->wait_list. But when
the cleanup code released the lock, it woke up the task that was in
__lock_task_sighand() and that task now tries to take the lock. As the
lock is now free, it grabs it and removes itself from the
lock->wait_list. But because the lock->wait_list has been
re-initialized, it doesn't find itself on the list and we hit the bug.
This makes sense as we never crashed, we just triggered the list.h
debug warnings.

> Of course, it could easily be lack of any RCU protection too. As
> mentioned, I didn't really check the code. I just wanted to clarify
> this subtlety, because while I think Oleg knows about it, maybe others
> didn't quite catch that subtlety.

At least for -rt, it seems we have to convert it that way. Anything
more complex than a simple spinning lock will trigger this bug. Can't
use normal mutexes either.

> And this could easily be an RT issue, if the RT code does some
> re-initialization of the rtmutex that replaces the spinlock we have.

Yep, I believe this currently is an RT issue. But I would suggest that
sighand be freed by a normal rcu call. This reuse looks really subtle
and prone for other bugs.

Thanks for the explanation!

-- Steve
To unsubscribe from this list: send the line "unsubscribe linux-kernel" in
the body of a message to majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
More majordomo info at
Please read the FAQ at