Re: [PATCH bpf-next 11/15] bpftool: add skeleton codegen command

From: Jakub Kicinski
Date: Thu Dec 12 2019 - 15:21:23 EST

On Thu, 12 Dec 2019 11:54:16 -0800, Alexei Starovoitov wrote:
> On Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 10:43:34AM -0800, Jakub Kicinski wrote:
> > On Thu, 12 Dec 2019 08:53:22 -0800, Andrii Nakryiko wrote:
> > > > > > Btw, how hard it would be to do this generation with a new python
> > > > > > script instead of bpftool? Something along the lines of
> > > > > > scripts/ that parses BTF and spits out this C header
> > > > > > (shouldn't be that hard to write custom BTF parser in python, right)?
> > > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > Not impossible, but harder than I'd care to deal with. I certainly
> > > > > don't want to re-implement a good chunk of ELF and BTF parsing (maps,
> > > > > progs, in addition to datasec stuff). But "it's hard to use bpftool in
> > > > > our build system" doesn't seem like good enough reason to do all that.
> > > > You can replace "our build system" with some other project you care about,
> > > > like systemd. They'd have the same problem with vendoring in recent enough
> > > > bpftool or waiting for every distro to do it. And all this work is
> > > > because you think that doing:
> > > >
> > > > my_obj->rodata->my_var = 123;
> > > >
> > > > Is easier / more type safe than doing:
> > > > int *my_var = bpf_object__rodata_lookup(obj, "my_var");
> > > > *my_var = 123;
> > >
> > > Your arguments are confusing me. Did I say that we shouldn't add this
> > > type of "dynamic" interface to variables? Or did I say that every
> > > single BPF application has to adopt skeleton and bpftool? I made no
> > > such claims and it seems like discussion is just based around where I
> > > have to apply my time and efforts... You think it's not useful - don't
> > > integrate bpftool into your build system, simple as that. Skeleton is
> > > used for selftests, but it's up to maintainers to decide whether to
> > > keep this, similar to all the BTF decisions.
> >
> > Since we have two people suggesting this functionality to be a separate
> > tool could you please reconsider my arguments from two days ago?
> >
> > There absolutely nothing this tool needs from [bpftool], no
> > JSON needed, no bpffs etc.
> To generate vmlinux.h bpftool doesn't need json and doesn't need bpffs.

At least for header generation it pertains to the running system.
And bpftool was (and still is AFAICT) about interacting with the BPF
state on the running system.

> > It can be a separate tool like
> > libbpf-skel-gen or libbpf-c-skel or something, distributed with libbpf.
> > That way you can actually soften the backward compat. In case people
> > become dependent on it they can carry that little tool on their own.
> Jakub,
> Could you please consider Andrii's reply to your comment from two days ago:
> "we are trying to make users lives easier by having major distributions
> distribute bpftool and libbpf properly. Adding extra binaries to
> distribute around doesn't seem to be easing any of users pains."

Last time we argued I heard how GH makes libbpf packaging easier.
Only to have that dis-proven once the people in Europe who do distro
packaging woke up:

I feel I'm justified not to take your opinion on this as fact.

> My opinion is the following.
> bpftool is necessary to write bpf programs already. It's necessary to produce
> vmlinux.h for bpf programs to include it. It's part of build process. I can
> relate to Stan's complains that he needs to update clang and pahole. He missed
> the fact that he needs to update bpftool too if he wants to use all features of
> CO-RE. Same thing for skeleton generation. If people need to run the latest
> selftest/bpf on the latest kernel they need to upgrade to the latest clang,
> pahole, libbpf, bpftool. Nothing new here.

They have to update libbpf, so why can't the code gen tool be part of
libbpf? We don't need to build all BPF user space into one binary.

> Backwards compat is the same concern for skeleton generation and for vmlinux.h
> generation. Obviously no one wants to introduce something that will keep
> changing. Is vmlinux.h generation stable? I like to believe so. Same with
> skeleton. I wouldn't want to see it changing, but in both cases such chance
> exists.

vmlinux.h is pretty stable, there isn't much wiggle room there.
It's more of a conversion tool, if you will.

Skeleton OTOH is supposed to make people's lives easier, so it's a
completely different beast. It should be malleable so that users can
improve and hack on it. Baking it into as system tool is counter
productive. Users should be able to grab the skel tool single-file
source and adjust for their project's needs. Distributing your own copy
of bpftool because you want to adjust skel is a heavy lift.

And maybe one day we do have Python/Go/whatever bindings, and we can
convert the skel tool to a higher level language with modern templating.

> We cannot and should not adopt kernel-like ABI guarantees to user space
> code. It will paralyze the development.

Discussion for another time :)

> Now consider if vmlinux.h and skeleton generation is split out of bpftool into
> new tool. Effectively it would mean a fork of bpftool. Two binaries doing bpf
> elf file processing without clear distinction between them is going to be very
> confusing.

To be clear I'm suggesting skel gen is a separate tool, vmlinux and
Quentin's header gen work on the running system, they are not pure
build env tools.