Re: eBPF verifier thoughts (Re: [PATCH v15 net-next 00/11] eBPF syscall, verifier, testsuite)

From: Andy Lutomirski
Date: Fri Sep 26 2014 - 15:52:23 EST

On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 12:34 PM, Andy Lutomirski <luto@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 12:06 PM, David Miller <davem@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> From: Alexei Starovoitov <ast@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
>> Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 00:16:56 -0700
>>> v14 -> v15:
>>> - got rid of macros with hidden control flow (suggested by David)
>>> replaced macro with explicit goto or return and simplified
>>> where possible (affected patches #9 and #10)
>>> - rebased, retested
>> Series applied to net-next, thanks.
> Hi all-
> I read through the verifier. Sorry this email is a little bit late.
> Here are some thoughts, in no particular order.
> Programs should IMO have feature flags. One such feature would be
> "can use pointers as integers", for example.
> UNKNOWN_VALUE is IMO a crappy type. I think that it should renamed to
> INTEGER and that a bunch of the things that generate it should be
> errors.
> ALU ops like adding two pointers should IMO be failures. I don't
> think that they should result in UNKNOWN_VALUE.
> I don't like PTR_TO_MAP_VALUE as a type. I think that there should
> instead be "pointer to (const?) buffer of N bytes".
> ARG_PTR_TO_MAP_KEY is odd. Why do we care what a function does with a
> key? It just needs to be a big enough buffer, right?
> All of the stack spill stuff seems overcomplicated. Can you just
> disallow unaligned stack access? Right off the bat, that will delete
> a bunch of code and cut down runtime memory use by nearly a factor of
> eight.
> Also, there are no calls to functions written eBPF, right? If so, why
> not just give each stack slot a *fixed* type for the lifetime of the
> program? That would be a huge time complexity win, not to mention
> being more comprehensible. When function calls get added, they'll
> need a whole pile of new infrastructure anyway.
> check_call is a mess. I predict that it will be unmaintainable.
> check_ld_abs is messy, IMO. Can't there be a real type "pointer to
> object of type [type]", where skb would be a type? Then you could use
> the normal function call logic for skb pointers instead of hardcoded
> crud.
> You're doing a depth-first search. I don't like it. You need complex
> pruning logic to avoid exponential behavior, and it's not obvious to
> me that pathological programs that cause exponential blowups in the
> verifier don't exist. Wouldn't it make more sense to do a
> breadth-first search instead and to give each reg/stack slot a
> definite type at each point in the control flow? You'd need a
> function to find the intersection of two types, but I think that would
> be preferable to the current code that tests whether one type is a
> subset of another.
> At some point someone will want loops, and that will open a huge can
> of worms involving explicit typing or type inference. It might pay to
> add some kind of stack slot (and maybe even register slot) type
> declarations now to get things ready for that.
> NB: If this code is actually invoked in net-next when loading a
> filter, please don't push to Linus until there's a convincing argument
> that the verifier has acceptable asymptotic complexity.

To add one more point:

With the current verifier design, it's impossible to write a userspace
tool that can take an eBPF program and check it. The verification is
far too context-dependent for that to be possible. I won't go so far
as to say that a userspace tool needs to *exist*, but I strongly
object to exposing a verification algorithm that *precludes* writing
such a tool.

I think that the eBPF program format needs to encode all context
needed for verification. Then verification should check that the
program is compliant with the context and that the context is correct.
The former could, in principle, be done in userspace, too.

Here, "context" includes the program type (i.e. what type R1 hasis),
the key and value sizes of all referenced maps, the fact that the maps
are maps (damnit, "every object implements exactly the same interface
and is called a 'map'" is a bad type system*), and possible also
things like the intended stack size and any other relevant details
about the entry calling convention.

* It's especially bad because you already have a type (skb) that
doesn't conform.

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