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Re: [libvirt] RFC: libxl race fixes

Jim Fehlig wrote:
> I've been investigating some races in the libxl driver and would like to
> get comments on some potential solutions.
> The first race is in the fd/timeout event handling code, which maps
> libxl's osevent interface to libvirt's event loop interface.  This
> mapping opens the possibility for libvirt's event loop to invoke
> event callbacks after libxl has already deregistered the event,
> potentially accessing an event object that has already been freed.
> One solution to this race I've found successful is reference counting the
> objects associated with the events.  When libxl registers an event, an
> object encapsulating the event is created and it's reference count is set
> to 1.  When the event is injected into libvirt's event loop, another
> reference is taken on the object.  When libxl deregisters the event, it's
> reference count is decremented.  Once the event is removed from libvirt's
> event loop, the final reference is decremented and the object is disposed.

While rebasing this solution to use danpb's recent virObjectLockable
change, I revisited using only a lock in the libxlDomainObject,
acquiring the lock in the registration, deregistration, modify, and
callback functions.  I recall some problems with this approach before,
but now find it to be sufficient.  Perhaps a misplaced lock drove me to
the unneeded complexity of this double lock nonsense...

> This approach ensures the object is not disposed until it is removed
> from libvirt's event loop *and* libxl had explicitly deregistered the event.
> The notion of an event being 'disabled' found in libvirt's event loop impl
> also had to be added to the libxl event object, to ensure the driver doesn't
> call into libxl for a previously deregistered event.
> The second race is between destroying a vm (i.e., calling
> privateDataFreeFunc, which frees the libxl ctx) and deregistration/cleanup
> of all events that have been registered by libxl.
> One solution for this race is to convert libxlDomainObjPrivate to a
> virObject and increment its reference for each fd and timeout registration.

Only change here is using the new virObjectLockable.

> Only when all fds and timeouts are deregistered and destroyed will the
> libxlDomainObjPrivate be destroyed.  One downside to this approach is that
> an API to "cleanup" the libxl ctx is needed.  Without such an API, some
> fds are not deregistered until calling libxl_ctx_free.  But since the fd
> events have references on the libxlDomainObjPrivate, libxl_ctx_free is
> never called.  (BTW I have a patch adding libxl_ctx_quiesce() to libxl,
> which upstream xen folks seem receptive to, including backporting to
> Xen 4.2 branch, but I don't think this is ideal.)
> An alternate solution that can be used to address both of these races
> is to maintain a list of the fd/timeout registrations in the
> libxlDomainObjPrivate object, and take a more brute force approach to
> managing the registrations

Turns out only timeouts need special attention.  Their deregistration is
asynchronous wrt freeing the libxl ctx.  Keeping a list of active
timeouts and explicitly cleaning them up prior to freeing the libxl ctx
works well in my testing, and requires no changes to libxl.  That said,
all of my testing has included two libxl patches from Ian Jackson [1],
which will be needed in conjunction with the driver fixes to have a
stable libxl stack.

I'll post my libxl driver fixes after testing their behavior without
Ian's patches.


[1] http://lists.xen.org/archives/html/xen-devel/2012-12/msg00684.html

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