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CPTS 360 Systems Programming in Unix/Linux: Lab Assignment 4 Introduction to Linux Kernel Programming

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CPTS 360: Lab Assignment 4 Introduction to Linux Kernel Programming CourseNana.COM

1 Introduction

In this lab, you will learn the basics of Linux Kernel Programming. In particular, CourseNana.COM

  1. You will learn to create a Linux Kernel Module. CourseNana.COM

  2. You will use Timers in the Linux Kernel to schedule work. CourseNana.COM

  3. You will use Workqueues to defer work. CourseNana.COM

  4. You will use the basics of the Linked Lists interface in the Linux Kernel to temporarily store data in the kernel. CourseNana.COM

  5. You will learn the basic of Locking in the Linux Kernel. CourseNana.COM

  6. You will interface applications in userspace with your Kernel Module through the Proc Filesystem. CourseNana.COM

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2 Overview CourseNana.COM

Kernel programming has some particularities that can make it more difficult to debug and learn. In this section we will discuss a few of them. CourseNana.COM

The most important difference between kernel programming in Linux and Application programming in userspace is the lack of memory protection. That is driver, modules, and kernel threads all share the same memory address space. De-referencing a pointer that contains the wrong memory location and writing to it can cause the whole system to crash or corrupt important subsystems including filesystem and networking. CourseNana.COM

A key difference is that, in kernel programming, preemption is not always available, which means that we can indefinitely hog the CPU or cause system-wide deadlocks. This makes concurrency much more difficult to handle in the kernel than in userspace. CourseNana.COM

Through the rest of the document and your implementation you will learn some of the basic mechanisms, structures and designs common to many areas of Linux Kernel Development. The links and tutorials in Section 10 may be useful to implement this lab. CourseNana.COM

Development Guides CourseNana.COM

We recommend you complete this lab on a Linux Virtual Machine (VM), instead of a standalone Linux computer. During the completion of this lab, errors in your kernel modules could potentially lead to “bricking” VM, rendering it unusable. If this happens, you will need to restore your VM from the scratch. However, this will cost you precious hours of development time! These problems can be avoided by taking the following precautions: CourseNana.COM

VMSnapshots:Keepacopy(snapshot)ofyourworkingVMwithallnecessarydevelopmentlibraries installed. CourseNana.COM

Code Versioning: If your VM does become unusable, you need to use a fresh VM (perhaps reload from your saved VM snapshot). It is strongly recommended that you prevent loss of work by committing to your course git often. Note: we will only use your last submission before the deadline for grading. CourseNana.COM

Monitor Logs: During the course of this lab, we will be generating a lot of log messages, which eventually find their way to the /var/log directory on our disk. Keep an eye on the /var partition using the df -h command and remove large log files if it starts getting too full. CourseNana.COM

Lab Tasks CourseNana.COM

In this lab, you will build a kernel module that measures the userspace CPU time of processes registered within the kernel module and a simple test case application that requests this service. In a real scenario CourseNana.COM

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/proc CourseNana.COM

filesystem CourseNana.COM

Linux Kernel CourseNana.COM

KM Lab User Application CourseNana.COM

KM Lab Write Proc Callback CourseNana.COM

KM Lab Kernel Module CourseNana.COM

KM Lab Read Proc Callback CourseNana.COM

Register PID CourseNana.COM

List of (PID, CPU Time) Userspace CourseNana.COM

(a) CourseNana.COM

Kernelspace CourseNana.COM

Register PID CourseNana.COM

List of (PID, CPU Time)
Userspace Kernelspace

(b) CourseNana.COM

/proc CourseNana.COM

filesystem CourseNana.COM

Linux Kernel CourseNana.COM

KM Lab Write Proc Callback CourseNana.COM

KM Lab Kernel Module CourseNana.COM

KM Lab Read Proc Callback CourseNana.COM

Figure 1: /proc filesystem interface between the test application (userspace) and the kernel module (called KM Lab module, left figure) and Architecture overview of the kernel programming lab (right figure). CourseNana.COM

many applications might be using this functionality implemented by our new kernel module and therefore our module is designed to support multiple applications/processes to register simultaneously. CourseNana.COM

The kernel module will allow processes to register themselves through the Proc Filesystem. For each registered process, the kernel module should write to an entry in the /proc Filesystem, the application’s userspace CPU Time (known also as user time). The kernel module must keep these values in memory for each registered process and update them every 5 seconds. Figure 1 shows the application interface with the kernel module using the /proc filesystem. CourseNana.COM

The registration process must be implemented as follows: At the initialization of your kernel module, it must create a directory entry within the /proc filesystem (e.g., /proc/kmlab). Inside this directory your kernel module must create a file entry you created. When a process reads from this entry, the kernel module must print a list of all the registered PIDs in the system and its corresponding userspace CPU times. An example of the format your /proc filesystem entry can use to print this list is as follows: CourseNana.COM

PID1: CPU Time of PID1
PID2: CPU Time of PID2

Your kernel module implementation must store the PIDs and the CPU Time values of each process in a Linked List using the implementation provided by the Linux kernel. Part of the goals of this MP is that you learn to use this facility provided by the kernel. Additionally, the CPU Time values of each process must be periodically updated by using a kernel timer. CourseNana.COM

A workqueue is a kernel mechanism that allows you to schedule the execution of a function (work function) at a later time. A worker thread managed by the kernel is responsible of the execution of each of the work functions scheduled in the workqueue. In our lab, the work function will traverse the link list and update the CPU Time values of each registered process. CourseNana.COM

It is acceptable for your work function to be scheduled even if there are no registered processes. However you might consider an implementation where the timer is not scheduled if there are no registered processes. Figure 1 shows the architecture of the kernel module you should implement, including the timer interrupt and the workqueue. CourseNana.COM

As a test case you must implement a simple program that registers itself in the kernel module using the \proc filesystem and then calculates a series of computations. This computation can repeat or can be different. CourseNana.COM

KM Lab User Application CourseNana.COM

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However, this program should run for sufficient time to test your kernel module, sometime between 10 and 15 seconds should be sufficient. At the end of the computation the application must read the \proc filesystem entry containing the list of all the registered applications and its corresponding CPU times. We provide a skeleton userspace C implementation (userapp.c). CourseNana.COM

4 Implementation Challenges CourseNana.COM

In this lab, you will find many challenges commonly found in Kernel Programming. Some of these challenges are discussed below: CourseNana.COM

  • During the registration process you will need to access data from userspace. Kernel and applications both run in two separate memory spaces, so de-referencing pointers containing data from userspace is not possible. when returning data through a pointer we must copy the data from kernelspace into userspace using the function copy_to_user(). Common cases where this might appear are in \proc filesystem callbacks and system calls. CourseNana.COM

  • Another important challenge is the lack of libraries, instead the kernel provides similar versions of commonly used functions found in libraries. For example, malloc() is replaced with kmalloc(), printf() is replaced by printk() and pr X() family of functions. Some other handy functions implemented in the kernel are sprintf() and sscanf(). CourseNana.COM

  • The Linux kernel is a preemptible kernel. This means that all the contexts run concurrently and can be interrupted from its execution at any time. You will need to protect your data structures through the use of appropriate locks (e.g., spin_lock_irqsave()) and prevent race conditions wherever they appear. CourseNana.COM

    Due to all these challenges, we recommend that you test your code often and build in small increments. Besides, we recommend you read kernel programming lecture modules and test all source files discussed in the class. CourseNana.COM

5 Implementation Overview CourseNana.COM

This section will briefly guide you through the implementation. Figure 2 shows the workflow and components of the lab. In userspace, you can see the test application. CourseNana.COM

Step 1: The best way to start is by implementing an empty (Hello, World!) Linux Kernel Module. You can find the starter code in kmlab.c of your GitHub submission repository. Make sure to edit the MODULE_AUTHOR line first. CourseNana.COM

Step 2: After this you should implement the /proc filesystem entries (i.e., /proc/kmlab/ and /proc/kmlab/status). Make sure that you implement the creation of these entries in your module init() function and the destruction in your module exit() function. CourseNana.COM

At this point you should probably test your code. Compile the module and load it in memory using insmod. You should be able to see the /proc filesystem entries you created using lsmod. Now remove the module using rmmod and check that the entries are properly removed. CourseNana.COM

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In this section we will briefly guide you through the implementation. The figure below shows the architecture of MP1, showing the kernel module with its Workqueue and Timer and also the Proc Filesystem all in the kernel space. In the user space you can see the test application that you will also implement. CourseNana.COM

User App CourseNana.COM

Write self PID to /proc/kmlab/status CourseNana.COM

Do some calculations (10-15 seconds)

Register itself to Then
Read /proc/kmlab/status and print to screen

Read results from CourseNana.COM

Proc Filesystem Entry Triggers on Read CourseNana.COM

Proc File Read Callback Register Process CourseNana.COM

Kernel Module CourseNana.COM

Triggers on Write
Proc File Write Callback Check and Report Run Time

List of Registered Processes CourseNana.COM

Timer Callback
Schedule Work
Work Function
Update Run Time and Remove Dead Process

Module Initializer Module Finalizer CourseNana.COM

Figure 2: Workflow of the lab implementation. CourseNana.COM

Step 1: Please start from the Hello World module available in your submission repo on GitHub
Step 3: The next step should be to implement the full registration; you will need to declare and initialize a CourseNana.COM

classroom. Please edit the MODULE_AUTHOR line first. You can find the starter code in mp1.c of Linux kernel linked list. The kernel provides macros and functions to traverse the list, and insert and delete CourseNana.COM

eyloemureGntist.Hub submission repository.
Step 4: You will also need to implement the callback functions for read and write in the entry of the /proc CourseNana.COM

Step 2: You should implement the Proc Filesystem entries (i.e /proc/mp1/status). You need filesystem you created. Keep the format of the registration string simple. We suggest that a userspace CourseNana.COM

application should be able to register itself by simply writing the PID to the /proc filesystem entry you to create a Proc Filesystem folder /proc/mp1 first and then create the file CourseNana.COM

created (e.g.,/proc/mp1/status). The callback functions will read and write data from and to userspace /proc/mp1/status. Make sure that you implement the creation of these entries in your CourseNana.COM

so you need to use copy_from_user() and copy_to_user(). To keep things simple, do not worry about module init() function and the destruction in your module exit() function. At this point you CourseNana.COM

adding support for page breaks in the reading callback. CourseNana.COM

Step 5: At this point you should be able to write a simple userspace application that registers itself in the module. Your test application can use the function getpid() to obtain its PID. You can open and write to the /proc filesystem entry using fopen() and fprintf(), or you can use sprintf() and the system() function to execute the string echo <pid> > /proc/kmlab/status in a privileged shell. CourseNana.COM

Step 6: The next step should be to create a kernel timer that wakes up every 5 seconds. Timers in the kernel are single shot (i.e., not periodic). Expiration times for timers in Linux are expressed in “jiffies” and they refer to an absolute time since boot. Jiffy is a unit of time that expresses the number of clock ticks of the CourseNana.COM

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system timer in Linux. The conversion between seconds and jiffies is system-dependent and can be done using the constant HZ. The global variable jiffies can be used to retrieve the current time elapsed since boot expressed in jiffies. CourseNana.COM

Step 7: Next you will need to implement the work function. At the timer expiration, the timer handler must use the workqueue API to schedule the work function to be executed as soon as possible. To test your code, you can use printk() to print to the console every time the work function is executed by the workqueue worker thread. You can see these messages by using the command dmesg in the command line. Note: Workqueue APIs were updated in newer kernels, therefore some documentation about workqueues on the Internet might be outdated. CourseNana.COM

Step 8: Now, you will need to implement the updates to the CPU Times for the processes in the Linked List. We have provided a helper function (in kmlab_given.h): CourseNana.COM

int get_cpu_use(int pid, unsigned long *cpu_value)

to simplify this part. This function returns 0 if the value was successfully obtained and returned through the parameter cpu_value, otherwise it returns -1. As part of the update process, you will need to use locks to protect the registered process should be removed from the linked list. CourseNana.COM

Step 9: Finally, you should check for memory leaks and make sure that everything is properly deallocated before we exit the module. Keep in mind that need to stop any asynchronous entity running (e.g., timers, workqueues) before deallocating memory structures. At this time, kernel module coding is finished. Now, you should be able to finalize the test application and have some additional testing of your code. CourseNana.COM

6 Compile and Test Your Code CourseNana.COM

We provide a Makefile to compile your kernel module.
To test your kernel module, you can try loading, unloading, and running it. The following commands may

be helpful: CourseNana.COM

# inserting kernel module
insmod kmlab.ko
# removing kernel module
rmmod kmlab.ko
# registering PID 1 to the module
echo "1" > /proc/kmlab/status
# listing current processes and user times
cat /proc/kmlab/status
# print the kernel debug/printed messages

We provide a sample shell script (kmlab test.sh) that will install and test your module for two userspace processes. CourseNana.COM

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7 Note on Code Quality CourseNana.COM

We recommend to read about the Linux Kernel’s requirements for code quality here: CourseNana.COM


For the lab, we use a relaxed version of the Kernel Code Quality Guideline for grading. For example, we require: CourseNana.COM

• Your code should not trigger compiler warnings.
• Properly protect critical resources with locks.
• Abstract the code appropriately and use functions to split the code. • Use meaningful variable and function names.
• Write comments for non-trivial codes.

Here are some advice: CourseNana.COM

  • Your code should include comments where appropriate. It is not a good idea to repeat what the function does using pseudo-code, but instead, provide a high-level overview of the function including any preconditions and post-conditions of the algorithm. Some functions might have as few as one line comments, while some others might have a longer paragraph. CourseNana.COM

  • Also, your code must be split into functions, even if these functions contain no parameters. This is a common situation in kernel modules because most of the variables are declared as global, including but not limited to data structures, state variables, locks, timers and threads. CourseNana.COM

  • An important problem in kernel code readability is to know if a function holds the lock for a data structure or not, different conventions are usually used. A common convention is to start the function with the character _ if the function does not hold the lock of a data structure. CourseNana.COM

  • In kernel coding, performance is a very important issue; usually the code uses macros and preprocessor commands extensively. Proper use of macros and identifying possible situations where they should be used is important in kernel programming. CourseNana.COM

  • Finally, in kernel programming, the use of the goto statement is a common practice. A good example of this, is the implementation of the Linux scheduler function schedule(). In this case, the use of the goto statement improves readability and/or performance. CourseNana.COM

    8 Deliverable CourseNana.COM

    • Complete the implementation of the user and kernel codes. CourseNana.COM

    [90 Points] CourseNana.COM

    The point split for your implementation is as follows (see below for details): CourseNana.COM

    * 80 points for correctness and
    * 10 points for good code organization, indentation, and proper comments. CourseNana.COM

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