Re: Userspace I/O driver core

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linux-os (Dick Johnson) wrote:
On Wed, 13 Dec 2006, Greg KH wrote:
If anyone has any questions on how to use this interface, or anything
else about it, please let me and Thomas know.

thanks,

greg k-h
[snip]
There are well thought-out methods of creating hardware interfaces that
> have a successfully history of implementation both in Linux and Unix.
> There are well established APIs that are used to expose devices to
> user-space with controlled privilege, access mechanisms, and built-in
> locking to provide atomic access to the functionality of the devices
> without user-space code needing to understand the device intricacies
> (and probably getting it wrong).
I recently returned from a conference where somebody had designed a
> driver that exposes PCI registers and FPGA device registers to
> user-space. Their problem was how to provide "call-backs" when an
> interrupt occurred. They were convinced that all they had to do was
> to have some user-space procedure that could be called when an
> interrupt occurred. Then their so-called driver would work. They had
> no clue about the fact that an interrupt can occur at any time not
> just when somebody is ready and waiting for it, that one usually has
> sections of code that must not be interrupted, etc.

This is almost exactly the situation I find myself in and a situation for which UIO is perfect. UIO is not a hole through the kernel in to memory, it is a well defined API of the type you describe above (albeit not 'established' yet). UIO interrupts are _handled_ in kernel space but subsequently _signalled_ in userspace. There are no issues of kernel code directly calling any userspace functionallity.
>
> Driver code needs to be protected from undue user-space interference
> otherwise the device can't be synchronized, shared, or accessed
> through the operating system's APIs.

And this is what UIO does, it allows userspace interaction without userspace interference. It provides a safe an sanitized view of the hardware to processes which make more sense in userland.
Every time I showed how the driver couldn't work properly, the
> designer so convinced of his superior methods, would devise a
> work-around. For instance, to protect a section of code from being
> modified in an interrupt, the user-space driver was to be executed
> with iopl(3) and interrupts disabled. To protect the kernel from the
> ISR being modified or replaced, the code would be checksummed every
> time an interrupt occurred, etc. I could go on. Drivers have no place
> user space.
No, dumb drivers with dodgy kernel interfaces don't have a place _anywhere_. If this under-educated person was using UIO there would be no need for any of his hacks, a userspace driver would be feasible, clean, neat and perfectly allowable.
Regards,
	Ben
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