PERFORCE change 32072 for review

Robert Watson rwatson at
Fri May 30 21:44:30 GMT 2003

On Fri, 30 May 2003, Adam Migus wrote:

> Ok, so add another int and you can track both lengths.  Why do you want
> to use sbufs sighting failures when you said you stress tested the code
> for three hours and could not make it fail with your redundant fix
> present?

The test checked for only the first of the two bugs I identified, and with
the first in place, indeed the test didn't cause a failure.  If the test
had checked for the second bug that I later realized also existed, it
would have failed.

It sounds like we both agree that tracking both lengths is required for
the current model, which is probably the final version of the change I'll
code up tonight or tomorrow morning.  This will involve separating the
pointer update from the snprintf() return length check, maintaining two
variables, etc.

Let me clarify what I mean by an sbuf API change: right now, the fixed
size buffer is offered by the MAC Framework to each policy in turn, which
appends to the current end of the buffer up to the buffer size.  It is the
responsibility of each policy performing any write to the buffer to update
offsets, check boundary cases, etc.  With a single snprintf() for each
policy, this was relatively reliable (especially with sample code), and
pretty efficient.  With many policies performing many updates consisting
of many elements, the burden of correct offset calculation, edge case
checking, etc, falls on lots of code from diverse providers at many
levels.  Since C string code is pretty failure-prone (you are far from the
first person to bump into nasty failure modes for the snprintf() function,
etc), a more robust string handling semantic between the MAC Framework and
its policy modules might increase the overall robustness of the framework.

Not sure if you've ever used sbufs, but they're being used increasingly
for FreeBSD kernel code when generating strings (unfortunately they don't
seem to support parsing yet).  Basically, they provide a string buffer
that auto-grows as elements are added, and has a printf()-like function as
one of the growth options.  The buffer can be passed from function to
function--in fact, this is precisely how GEOM handles asking several
modules to update the text string representation of the storage device
infrastructure.  When the set of updates is completed, sbuf has a method
to convert to a flat C string, which would presumably be invoked before
any copyout.  So the idea would be to modify the externalize API to invoke
each policy with:

mpo_externalize(struct label *label, const char *element_name,
    struct sbuf *sb, int *claimed);

The MAC Framework would initialize the sbuf with the size of the eventual
user buffer.  Rather than dealing with all the pointer, offset, etc, junk,
each policy would just call a series of the following calls to append: 

	if (sbuf_printf(sb, "%s...", element_substring, ...) == -1)

Sbuf's support both fixed size buffers and auto-extension of the buffer
using a blocking malloc.  When the MAC Framework is done querying each
policy for its updates to the externalized string, it would call
sbuf_finish(sb), and extract the C string using sbuf_data(sb). Hopefully,
the end result of such a change would be a dramatically reduced chance of
buffer related errors, since this approach is more resistant to
inconsistent string handling semantics across platforms, etc.

Robert N M Watson             FreeBSD Core Team, TrustedBSD Projects
robert at      Network Associates Laboratories

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