How Varnish met CHERI 2/N

CHERI capabilities are twice the size of pointers, and Varnish not only uses a lot of pointers per request, it is also stingy with RAM, because it is not uncommon to use 100K worker threads.

A number of test-cases fail because they are stingy with memory allocations, and other test-cases run out of cache space.

The job of these test-cases is to push varnish into obscure code-paths, using finely tuned sizes of objects, lengths of headers and parameter settings to varnish, and the bigger pointers in Varnish trows that tuning off.

These test-failures have nothing to do with CHERI.

There was enough margin that we could find magic numbers which work on both 32 bit and 64 bit CPUs, that is with both 4 and 8 byte pointers, but it is doubtful there is enough margin to make them also work with 16 byte pointers, so I will merely list these tests here as part of the accounting:

Workspace sizes
TEST tests/c00108.vtc
TEST tests/r01038.vtc
TEST tests/r01120.vtc
TEST tests/r02219.vtc
TEST tests/o00005.vtc

Cache sizes
TEST tests/r03502.vtc
TEST tests/r01140.vtc
TEST tests/r02831.vtc
TEST tests/v00064.vtc

Things you cannot do under CHERI: Pointers in Pipes

Varnish has a central “waiter” service, whose job it is to monitor file descriptors to idle network connections, and do the right thing if data arrives on them, or if they are, or should be closed after a timeout.

For reasons of performance, we have multiple implementations: kqueue(2) (BSD), epoll(2) (Linux), ports(2) (Solaris) and poll(2) which should work everywhere POSIX has been read.

We only have the poll(2) based waiter for portability, one less issue to deal with during bring-up on new platforms, its performance degrades to uselessness with contemporary loads of open network connections.

The way they all work is that have a single thread sitting in the relevant system-call, monitoring tens of thousands of file descriptors.

Some of those system calls allows other threads to add fds to the list, but poll(2) does not, so when we start the poll-waiter we create a pipe(2), and have the waiter-thread listen to that too.

When another thread wants to add a file descriptor to the inventory, it uses write(2) to send a pointer into that pipe. The kernel provide all the locking and buffering for us, wakes up the waiter-thread which reads the pointer, adds the new fd to its inventory and dives back into poll(2).

This is 100% safe, because nobody else can get to a pipe created with pipe(2), but there is no way CHERI could spot that to make an execption, so reading pointers out of a filedescriptor, cause fully justified core-dumps.

If the poll-waiter was actaully relevant, the proper fix would be to let the sending thread stick things on a locked list and just write a nonce-byte into the pipe to the waiter-thread, but that goes at the bottom of the TODO list, and for now I just remove the -Wpoll argument from five tests, which then pass:

TEST tests/b00009.vtc
TEST tests/b00048.vtc
TEST tests/b00054.vtc
TEST tests/b00059.vtc
TEST tests/c00080.vtc

But why five tests ?

It looks like one to test the poll-waiter and four cases of copy&paste.

Never write your own Red-Black Trees

In general there are few pieces of code I dare not wade into, but there are a LOT of code I dont want to touch, if there is any way to avoid it.

Red-Black trees are one of them.

In Varnish we stol^H^H^H^H imported both <queue.h> and <tree.h> from FreeBSD, but as a safety measure we stuck a V prefix on everything in them.

Every so often I will run a small shell-script which does the v-thing and compare the result to vtree.h and vqueue.h, to keep up with FreeBSD.

Today that paid off handsomely: Some poor person on the CHERI team had to wade into tree.h and stick __no_subobject_bounds directives to pointers to make that monster work under CHERI.

I just ran my script and 20 more tests pass:

Red-Black Trees
TEST tests/b00068.vtc
TEST tests/c00005.vtc
TEST tests/e00003.vtc
TEST tests/e00008.vtc
TEST tests/e00019.vtc
TEST tests/l00002.vtc
TEST tests/l00003.vtc
TEST tests/l00005.vtc
TEST tests/m00053.vtc
TEST tests/r01312.vtc
TEST tests/r01441.vtc
TEST tests/r02451.vtc
TEST tests/s00012.vtc
TEST tests/u00004.vtc
TEST tests/u00010.vtc
TEST tests/v00009.vtc
TEST tests/v00011.vtc
TEST tests/v00017.vtc
TEST tests/v00041.vtc
TEST tests/v00043.vtc

Four failures left…