Follow @Openwall on Twitter for new release announcements and other news
[<prev] [next>] [<thread-prev] [thread-next>] [day] [month] [year] [list]
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2020 03:13:12 -0800
From: Kees Cook <>
To: Arvind Sankar <>
Cc: Kristen Carlson Accardi <>,,,,,,,,,
Subject: Re: [RFC PATCH 11/11] x86/boot: Move "boot heap" out of .bss

On Wed, Feb 05, 2020 at 07:11:05PM -0500, Arvind Sankar wrote:
> From: Kees Cook <>
> > This seems to be a trivial change because head_{64,32}.S already only
> > copies up to the start of the .bss section, so any growth in the .bss
> > area was already not meaningful when placing the image in memory. The
> > .bss size is, however, reflected in the boot params "init_size", so the
> > memory range calculations included the "boot_heap" region. Instead of
> > wasting the on-disk image size bytes, just account for this heap area
> > when identifying the mem_avoid ranges, and leave it out of the .bss
> > section entirely. For good measure, also zero initialize it, as this
> > was already happening for when zeroing the entire .bss section.
> I'm not sure I follow this: the reason the bzImage currently contains
> .bss and a fix for it is in a patch I have out for review at

Ah! Thank you. Yes, that's _much_ cleaner. I could not figure out why
the linker was actually keeping the .bss section allocated in the
on-disk image. :) We've only had this bug for 10 years. ;)

> This alone shouldn't make much of a difference across compressors. The
> entire .bss is just stored uncompressed as 0's in bzImage currently.
> The only thing that gets compressed is the original kernel ELF file. Is
> the difference above just from this patch, or is it including the
> overhead of function-sections?

With bzip2, it's a 4MB heap in .bss. Other compressors are 64KB. With
fg-kaslr, the heap is 64MB in .bss. It made the bzImage huge. ;) Another
thought I had to deal with the memory utilization in the fg-kaslr shuffle
was to actually choose _two_ kernel locations in memory (via a refactoring
of choose_random_location()). One to decompress into and the other to
write out during the shuffle. Though the symbol table still needs to be
reconstructed, etc, so probably just best to leave it all in the regular
heap (or improve the ZO heap allocator which doesn't really implement

> It is not necessary for it to contain .bss to get the correct init_size.
> The latter is calculated (in x86/boot/header.S) based on the offset of
> the _end symbol in the compressed vmlinux, so storing the .bss is just a
> bug.

Yes, thank you for the reminder. I couldn't find the ZO_INIT_SIZE when I
was staring at this, since I only looked around the compressed/ directory.

I should add this:

diff --git a/arch/x86/boot/compressed/kaslr.c b/arch/x86/boot/compressed/kaslr.c
index d7408af55738..346e36ae163e 100644
--- a/arch/x86/boot/compressed/kaslr.c
+++ b/arch/x86/boot/compressed/kaslr.c
@@ -346,7 +346,7 @@ static void handle_mem_options(void)
  * in header.S, and the memory diagram is based on the one found in
  * misc.c.
  * The following conditions are already enforced by the image layouts
  * and
- * associated code:
+ * associated code (see ../boot/header.S):
  *  - input + input_size >= output + output_size
  *  - kernel_total_size <= init_size
  *  - kernel_total_size <= output_size (see Note below)

Kees Cook

Powered by blists - more mailing lists

Confused about mailing lists and their use? Read about mailing lists on Wikipedia and check out these guidelines on proper formatting of your messages.