[PATCH v6 5/5] Documentation: livepatch: outline Elf format and requirements for patch modules

From: Jessica Yu
Date: Tue Mar 22 2016 - 20:04:22 EST

Document livepatch module requirements and the special Elf constants patch
modules use.

Signed-off-by: Jessica Yu <jeyu@xxxxxxxxxx>
Acked-by: Miroslav Benes <mbenes@xxxxxxx>
Documentation/livepatch/module-elf-format.txt | 311 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++
1 file changed, 311 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/livepatch/module-elf-format.txt

diff --git a/Documentation/livepatch/module-elf-format.txt b/Documentation/livepatch/module-elf-format.txt
new file mode 100644
index 0000000..eedbdcf
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/livepatch/module-elf-format.txt
@@ -0,0 +1,311 @@
+Livepatch module Elf format
+This document outlines the Elf format requirements that livepatch modules must follow.
+Table of Contents
+0. Background and motivation
+1. Livepatch modinfo field
+2. Livepatch relocation sections
+ 2.1 What are livepatch relocation sections?
+ 2.2 Livepatch relocation section format
+ 2.2.1 Required flags
+ 2.2.2 Required name format
+ 2.2.3 Example livepatch relocation section names
+ 2.2.4 Example `readelf --sections` output
+ 2.2.5 Example `readelf --relocs` output
+3. Livepatch symbols
+ 3.1 What are livepatch symbols?
+ 3.2 A livepatch module's symbol table
+ 3.3 Livepatch symbol format
+ 3.3.1 Required flags
+ 3.3.2 Required name format
+ 3.3.3 Example livepatch symbol names
+ 3.3.4 Example `readelf --symbols` output
+4. Symbol table and Elf section access
+0. Background and motivation
+Formerly, livepatch required separate architecture-specific code to write
+relocations. However, arch-specific code to write relocations already
+exists in the module loader, so this former approach produced redundant
+code. So, instead of duplicating code and re-implementing what the module
+loader can already do, livepatch leverages existing code in the module
+loader to perform the all the arch-specific relocation work. Specifically,
+livepatch reuses the apply_relocate_add() function in the module loader to
+write relocations. The patch module Elf format described in this document
+enables livepatch to be able to do this. The hope is that this will make
+livepatch more easily portable to other architectures and reduce the amount
+of arch-specific code required to port livepatch to a particular
+Since apply_relocate_add() requires access to a module's section header
+table, symbol table, and relocation section indices, Elf information is
+preserved for livepatch modules (see section 4). Livepatch manages its own
+relocation sections and symbols, which are described in this document. The
+Elf constants used to mark livepatch symbols and relocation sections were
+selected from OS-specific ranges according to the definitions from glibc.
+0.1 Why does livepatch need to write its own relocations?
+A typical livepatch module contains patched versions of functions that can
+reference non-exported global symbols and non-included local symbols.
+Relocations referencing these types of symbols cannot be left in as-is
+since the kernel module loader cannot resolve them and will therefore
+reject the livepatch module. Furthermore, we cannot apply relocations that
+affect modules not yet loaded at patch module load time (e.g. a patch to a
+driver that is not loaded). Formerly, livepatch solved this problem by
+embedding special "dynrela" (dynamic rela) sections in the resulting patch
+module Elf output. Using these dynrela sections, livepatch could resolve
+symbols while taking into account its scope and what module the symbol
+belongs to, and then manually apply the dynamic relocations. However this
+approach required livepatch to supply arch-specific code in order to write
+these relocations. In the new format, livepatch manages its own SHT_RELA
+relocation sections in place of dynrela sections, and the symbols that the
+relas reference are special livepatch symbols (see section 2 and 3). The
+arch-specific livepatch relocation code is replaced by a call to
+1. Livepatch modinfo field
+Livepatch modules are required to have the "livepatch" modinfo attribute.
+See the sample livepatch module in samples/livepatch/ for how this is done.
+Livepatch modules can be identified by users by using the 'modinfo' command
+and looking for the presence of the "livepatch" field. This field is also
+used by the kernel module loader to identify livepatch modules.
+Example modinfo output:
+% modinfo livepatch-meminfo.ko
+filename: livepatch-meminfo.ko
+livepatch: Y
+license: GPL
+vermagic: 4.3.0+ SMP mod_unload
+2. Livepatch relocation sections
+2.1 What are livepatch relocation sections?
+A livepatch module manages its own Elf relocation sections to apply
+relocations to modules as well as to the kernel (vmlinux) at the
+appropriate time. For example, if a patch module patches a driver that is
+not currently loaded, livepatch will apply the corresponding livepatch
+relocation section(s) to the driver once it loads.
+Each "object" (e.g. vmlinux, or a module) within a patch module may have
+multiple livepatch relocation sections associated with it (e.g. patches to
+multiple functions within the same object). There is a 1-1 correspondence
+between a livepatch relocation section and the target section (usually the
+text section of a function) to which the relocation(s) apply. It is
+also possible for a livepatch module to have no livepatch relocation
+sections, as in the case of the sample livepatch module (see
+Since Elf information is preserved for livepatch modules (see Section 4), a
+livepatch relocation section can be applied simply by passing in the
+appropriate section index to apply_relocate_add(), which then uses it to
+access the relocation section and apply the relocations.
+Every symbol referenced by a rela in a livepatch relocation section is a
+livepatch symbol. These must be resolved before livepatch can call
+apply_relocate_add(). See Section 3 for more information.
+2.2 Livepatch relocation section format
+2.2.1 Required flags
+Livepatch relocation sections must be marked with the SHF_RELA_LIVEPATCH
+section flag. See include/uapi/linux/elf.h for the definition. The module
+loader recognizes this flag and will avoid applying those relocation sections
+at patch module load time. These sections must also be marked with SHF_ALLOC,
+so that the module loader doesn't discard them on module load (i.e. they will
+be copied into memory along with the other SHF_ALLOC sections).
+2.2.2 Required name format
+The name of a livepatch relocation section must conform to the following format:
+^ ^^ ^ ^ ^
+|________||_____| |__________|
+ [A] [B] [C]
+[A] The relocation section name is prefixed with the string ".klp.rela."
+[B] The name of the object (i.e. "vmlinux" or name of module) to
+ which the relocation section belongs follows immediately after the prefix.
+[C] The actual name of the section to which this relocation section applies.
+2.2.3 Example livepatch relocation section names:
+2.2.4 Example `readelf --sections` output for a patch
+module that patches vmlinux and modules 9p, btrfs, ext4:
+ Section Headers:
+ [Nr] Name Type Address Off Size ES Flg Lk Inf Al
+ [ snip ]
+ [29] .klp.rela.9p.text.caches.show RELA 0000000000000000 002d58 0000c0 18 AIo 64 9 8
+ [30] .klp.rela.btrfs.text.btrfs.feature.attr.show RELA 0000000000000000 002e18 000060 18 AIo 64 11 8
+ [ snip ]
+ [34] .klp.rela.ext4.text.ext4.attr.store RELA 0000000000000000 002fd8 0000d8 18 AIo 64 13 8
+ [35] .klp.rela.ext4.text.ext4.attr.show RELA 0000000000000000 0030b0 000150 18 AIo 64 15 8
+ [36] .klp.rela.vmlinux.text.cmdline.proc.show RELA 0000000000000000 003200 000018 18 AIo 64 17 8
+ [37] .klp.rela.vmlinux.text.meminfo.proc.show RELA 0000000000000000 003218 0000f0 18 AIo 64 19 8
+ [ snip ] ^ ^
+ | |
+ [*] [*]
+[*] Livepatch relocation sections are SHT_RELA sections but with a few special
+characteristics. Notice that they are marked SHF_ALLOC ("A") so that they will
+not be discarded when the module is loaded into memory, as well as with the
+SHF_RELA_LIVEPATCH flag ("o" - for OS-specific).
+2.2.5 Example `readelf --relocs` output for a patch module:
+Relocation section '.klp.rela.btrfs.text.btrfs_feature_attr_show' at offset 0x2ba0 contains 4 entries:
+ Offset Info Type Symbol's Value Symbol's Name + Addend
+000000000000001f 0000005e00000002 R_X86_64_PC32 0000000000000000 .klp.sym.vmlinux.printk,0 - 4
+0000000000000028 0000003d0000000b R_X86_64_32S 0000000000000000 .klp.sym.btrfs.btrfs_ktype,0 + 0
+0000000000000036 0000003b00000002 R_X86_64_PC32 0000000000000000 .klp.sym.btrfs.can_modify_feature.isra.3,0 - 4
+000000000000004c 0000004900000002 R_X86_64_PC32 0000000000000000 .klp.sym.vmlinux.snprintf,0 - 4
+[ snip ] ^
+ |
+ [*]
+[*] Every symbol referenced by a relocation is a livepatch symbol.
+3. Livepatch symbols
+3.1 What are livepatch symbols?
+Livepatch symbols are symbols referred to by livepatch relocation sections.
+These are symbols accessed from new versions of functions for patched
+objects, whose addresses cannot be resolved by the module loader (because
+they are local or unexported global syms). Since the module loader only
+resolves exported syms, and not every symbol referenced by the new patched
+functions is exported, livepatch symbols were introduced. They are used
+also in cases where we cannot immediately know the address of a symbol when
+a patch module loads. For example, this is the case when livepatch patches
+a module that is not loaded yet. In this case, the relevant livepatch
+symbols are resolved simply when the target module loads. In any case, for
+any livepatch relocation section, all livepatch symbols referenced by that
+section must be resolved before livepatch can call apply_relocate_add() for
+that reloc section.
+Livepatch symbols must be marked with SHN_LIVEPATCH so that the module
+loader can identify and ignore them. Livepatch modules keep these symbols
+in their symbol tables, and the symbol table is made accessible through
+3.2 A livepatch module's symbol table
+Normally, a stripped down copy of a module's symbol table (containing only
+"core" symbols) is made available through module->symtab (See layout_symtab()
+in kernel/module.c). For livepatch modules, the symbol table copied into memory
+on module load must be exactly the same as the symbol table produced when the
+patch module was compiled. This is because the relocations in each livepatch
+relocation section refer to their respective symbols with their symbol indices,
+and the original symbol indices (and thus the symtab ordering) must be
+preserved in order for apply_relocate_add() to find the right symbol.
+For example, take this particular rela from a livepatch module:
+Relocation section '.klp.rela.btrfs.text.btrfs_feature_attr_show' at offset 0x2ba0 contains 4 entries:
+ Offset Info Type Symbol's Value Symbol's Name + Addend
+000000000000001f 0000005e00000002 R_X86_64_PC32 0000000000000000 .klp.sym.vmlinux.printk,0 - 4
+This rela refers to the symbol '.klp.sym.vmlinux.printk,0', and the symbol index is encoded
+in 'Info'. Here its symbol index is 0x5e, which is 94 in decimal, which refers to the
+symbol index 94.
+And in this patch module's corresponding symbol table, symbol index 94 refers to that very symbol:
+[ snip ]
+94: 0000000000000000 0 NOTYPE GLOBAL DEFAULT OS [0xff20] .klp.sym.vmlinux.printk,0
+[ snip ]
+3.3 Livepatch symbol format
+3.3.1 Required flags
+Livepatch symbols must have their section index marked as SHN_LIVEPATCH, so
+that the module loader can identify them and not attempt to resolve them.
+See include/uapi/linux/elf.h for the actual definitions.
+3.3.2 Required name format
+Livepatch symbol names must conform to the following format:
+^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^
+|_______||_____| |_________| |
+ [A] [B] [C] [D]
+[A] The symbol name is prefixed with the string ".klp.sym."
+[B] The name of the object (i.e. "vmlinux" or name of module) to
+ which the symbol belongs follows immediately after the prefix.
+[C] The actual name of the symbol.
+[D] The position of the symbol in the object (as according to kallsyms)
+ This is used to differentiate duplicate symbols within the same
+ object. The symbol position is expressed numerically (0, 1, 2...).
+ The symbol position of a unique symbol is 0.
+3.3.3 Example livepatch symbol names:
+3.3.4 Example `readelf --symbols` output for a patch module:
+Symbol table '.symtab' contains 127 entries:
+ Num: Value Size Type Bind Vis Ndx Name
+ [ snip ]
+ 73: 0000000000000000 0 NOTYPE GLOBAL DEFAULT OS [0xff20] .klp.sym.vmlinux.snprintf,0
+ 74: 0000000000000000 0 NOTYPE GLOBAL DEFAULT OS [0xff20] .klp.sym.vmlinux.capable,0
+ 75: 0000000000000000 0 NOTYPE GLOBAL DEFAULT OS [0xff20] .klp.sym.vmlinux.find_next_bit,0
+ 76: 0000000000000000 0 NOTYPE GLOBAL DEFAULT OS [0xff20] .klp.sym.vmlinux.si_swapinfo,0
+ [ snip ] ^
+ |
+ [*]
+[*] Note that the 'Ndx' (Section index) for these symbols is SHN_LIVEPATCH (0xff20).
+ "OS" means OS-specific.
+4. Symbol table and Elf section access
+A livepatch module's symbol table is accessible through module->symtab.
+Since apply_relocate_add() requires access to a module's section headers,
+symbol table, and relocation section indices, Elf information is preserved for
+livepatch modules and is made accessible by the module loader through
+module->klp_info, which is a klp_modinfo struct. When a livepatch module loads,
+this struct is filled in by the module loader. Its fields are documented below:
+struct klp_modinfo {
+ Elf_Ehdr hdr; /* Elf header */
+ Elf_Shdr *sechdrs; /* Section header table */
+ char *secstrings; /* String table for the section headers */
+ unsigned int symndx; /* The symbol table section index */