Re: [PATCH v2 4/6] userfaultfd: update documentation to describe /dev/userfaultfd

From: Shuah Khan
Date: Tue Apr 26 2022 - 12:50:05 EST

On 4/22/22 3:29 PM, Axel Rasmussen wrote:
Explain the different ways to create a new userfaultfd, and how access
control works for each way.

Signed-off-by: Axel Rasmussen <axelrasmussen@xxxxxxxxxx>
Documentation/admin-guide/mm/userfaultfd.rst | 38 ++++++++++++++++++--
Documentation/admin-guide/sysctl/vm.rst | 3 ++
2 files changed, 39 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

diff --git a/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/userfaultfd.rst b/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/userfaultfd.rst
index 6528036093e1..4c079b5377d4 100644
--- a/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/userfaultfd.rst
+++ b/Documentation/admin-guide/mm/userfaultfd.rst
@@ -17,7 +17,10 @@ of the ``PROT_NONE+SIGSEGV`` trick.
-Userfaults are delivered and resolved through the ``userfaultfd`` syscall.

Please keep this sentence in there and rephrase it to indicate how it was
done in the past.

Also explain here why this new approach is better than the syscall approach
before getting into the below details.

+Userspace creates a new userfaultfd, initializes it, and registers one or more
+regions of virtual memory with it. Then, any page faults which occur within the
+region(s) result in a message being delivered to the userfaultfd, notifying
+userspace of the fault.
The ``userfaultfd`` (aside from registering and unregistering virtual
memory ranges) provides two primary functionalities:
@@ -39,7 +42,7 @@ Vmas are not suitable for page- (or hugepage) granular fault tracking
when dealing with virtual address spaces that could span
Terabytes. Too many vmas would be needed for that.> -The ``userfaultfd`` once opened by invoking the syscall, can also be
+The ``userfaultfd``, once created, can also be

This is sentence is too short and would look odd. Combine the sentences
so it renders well in the generated doc.

passed using unix domain sockets to a manager process, so the same
manager process could handle the userfaults of a multitude of
different processes without them being aware about what is going on
@@ -50,6 +53,37 @@ is a corner case that would currently return ``-EBUSY``).
+Creating a userfaultfd
+There are two mechanisms to create a userfaultfd. There are various ways to
+restrict this too, since userfaultfds which handle kernel page faults have
+historically been a useful tool for exploiting the kernel.
+The first is the userfaultfd(2) syscall. Access to this is controlled in several
+- By default, the userfaultfd will be able to handle kernel page faults. This
+ can be disabled by passing in UFFD_USER_MODE_ONLY.
+- If vm.unprivileged_userfaultfd is 0, then the caller must *either* have
+- If vm.unprivileged_userfaultfd is 1, then no particular privilege is needed to
+ use this syscall, even if UFFD_USER_MODE_ONLY is *not* set.
+Alternatively, userfaultfds can be created by opening /dev/userfaultfd, and
+issuing a USERFAULTFD_IOC_NEW ioctl to this device. Access to this device is

New ioctl? I thought we are moving away from using ioctls?

+controlled via normal filesystem permissions (user/group/mode for example) - no
+additional permission (capability/sysctl) is needed to be able to handle kernel
+faults this way. This is useful because it allows e.g. a specific user or group
+to be able to create kernel-fault-handling userfaultfds, without allowing it
+more broadly, or granting more privileges in addition to that particular ability
+(CAP_SYS_PTRACE). In other words, it allows permissions to be minimized.
+Initializing up a userfaultfd

This will generate doc warn very likley - extend the dashes to the
entire length of the subtitle.

When first opened the ``userfaultfd`` must be enabled invoking the
``UFFDIO_API`` ioctl specifying a ``uffdio_api.api`` value set to ``UFFD_API`` (or
a later API version) which will specify the ``read/POLLIN`` protocol
diff --git a/Documentation/admin-guide/sysctl/vm.rst b/Documentation/admin-guide/sysctl/vm.rst
index f4804ce37c58..8682d5fbc8ea 100644
--- a/Documentation/admin-guide/sysctl/vm.rst
+++ b/Documentation/admin-guide/sysctl/vm.rst
@@ -880,6 +880,9 @@ calls without any restrictions.
The default value is 0.
+An alternative to this sysctl / the userfaultfd(2) syscall is to create
+userfaultfds via /dev/userfaultfd. See

-- Shuah