Re: [RFC][PATCH 1/2] firmware version management: add firmware_version()

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On Sunday 09 July 2006 14:21, you wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 08, 2006 at 03:49:57PM +0200, Marcel Holtmann wrote:
> > Hi Arjan,
> > 
> > > > It would be good if a driver knows which firmware version will be 
> > > > written to the hardware. I'm talking about external firmware files 
> > > > claimed by request_firmware(). 
> > > > 
> > > > We know so many different firmware files for bcm43xx and it becomes 
> > > > more and more complicated without some firmware version management.
> > > > 
> > > > This patch can create the md5sum of a firmware file. Then it looks into 
> > > > a table to figure out which version number is assigned to the hashcode.
> > > > That table is placed in the driver code and an example for bcm43xx comes 
> > > > in my next mail. Any comments?
> > > 
> > > why does this have to happen on the kernel side? Isn't it a lot easier
> > > and better to let the userspace side of things do this work, and even
> > > have a userspace file with the md5->version mapping? Or are there some
> > > practical considerations that make that hard to impossible?
> > 
> > I fully agree that we shouldn't put firmware versioning into the kernel
> > drivers. The pattern you give to request_firmware() can be mapped to any
> > file on the file system. And you also have the link to the device object
> > and I prefer you export a sysfs file for the version so that the helper
> > application loading the firmware can pick the right file.
> Bcm43xx has no helper application to upload the firmware. This is done 
> in the driver. It's RAM based hardware without a Flash-ROM. The driver 
> has to upload the firmware in the init phase after each reset.
> The driver gets a firmware file from /lib/firmware/ without knowing 
> which version this is. It's not possible to say enable this in the 
> driver if you find a firmware x and disable that if it's only version 
> y. That was my motivation to start thinking about firmware versioning.
> But in the meantime I think it's a security issue, too. A driver 
> should only accept firmware files with certified checksums. I guess it 
> would be really difficult to enter a machine by firmware hijacking. So, 
> I'm still in hope that this is only a paranoia on my side. But it's 
> worth to think about it.

I really think drivers should only allow firmware files that are known
to work. This should be verified by a hardcoded checksum in the driver.
I support Martin's patch.
The problem is (for bcm43xx):
If we load wrong firmware, the device sometimes does not work
correctly (as the firmware was never tested by any developer).
If we load wrong firmware, we can completely crash the machine.
And no, we can't avoid this by some sanity checks. We have sanity
checks there that catch the most obvious garbage, but it can never
catch everything. So it is possible to MachineCheck the kernel from
userspace, by providing wrong firmware. Only root can do that,
but it is hard to diagnose that it's caused by faulty firmware.
It is also possible to trigger some NULL pointer dereferences,
because with a too-new firmware, the device will return different
TX status reports to the driver. Yeah, we could add a if(foo!=NULL)
there, but that would _still_ not be safe, because we still get garbage
back. In a driver we simply _depend_ on the hardware to work correctly.
As the hardware is equal to the firmware (from the driver pov),
we depend on correct firmware for correct operation.
So what we want to do is: Dongle several known good firmwares
(through the checksum) to a driver version.

Greetings Michael.
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