I think this kind of calls should be announced on xen-devel before they
happen, to give a chance to other people to participate (I cannot
promise I would have participated but it is the principle that counts).
If I missed the announcement, I apologize.
On Fri, 14 Oct 2016, Jennifer Herbert wrote:
> For the non-pv part of QEMU, XenStore is only used in two places.
> There is the DM state, and the physmap mechanism. Although there is a
> vague plan for replacing the physmap mechanism, it is some way off.
> The DM state key is used for knowing when the qemu process is running
> etcetera, QMP would seem to be an option to replace it - however there
> is no (nice) way to wait on a socket until it has been opened. One
> solution might be to use Xenstore to let you know the QMP sockets
> where available, before QEMU drops privileges, and then QMP could be
> used to know QEMU is in the running state.
> To avoid the need to use xs-restrict, you would need to both replace
> physmap and rework qemu startup procedure. The use of xs-restrict would
> be more expedient, and does not look to need that much work.
> Discussion was had over how secure it would be to allow a guest access
> to these Xenstore keys - it was concluded that a guest could mostly
> only mess itself up. If I guest attempted to prevent itself from being
> migrated, the tool stack time it out, and could kill it.
> There followed a discussion on the Xenbus protocol, and additions
> needed. The aim is to merely restrict the permission for the command,
> to that of the guest who's domID you provide. It was proposed that
> it uses the header as is, with its 16 bytes, with the command
> 'one-time-restrict' , and then the payload would have two additional
> field at the start. These two field would correspond to the domid to
> restrict as, and the real command. Transaction ID and tags would be
> taken from the real header.
> Although inter domain xs-restrict is not specifically needed for this
> project, it is thought it might be a blocking items for upstream
> acceptance. It it thoughts these changes would not require that much
> work to implement, and may be useful in use use cases. Only a few
> changes to QEMU would be needed, and libxl should be able to track
> QEMU versions. Ian Jackson volunteered to look at this, with David
> helping with the kernel bits. Ian won't have time to look at this
> until after Xen 4.8 is released.
> There discussion about what may fail once privileges are taken away,
> which would include CDs and PCI pass though. It is thought the full
> list can only be known by trying. Not everything needs to work for
> acceptance upstream, such as PCI pass though. If such an
> incompatible feature is needed, restrictions can be turned off. These
> problems can be fixed in a later phase, with CDs likely being at teh
> top of the list.
One thing to note is that xs-restrict is unimplemented in cxenstored.
> A disaggregation proposal which had previously been posted to a QEMU
> forum was discussed. It was not previously accepted by all. The big
> question was how to separate the device models from the machine, with
> a particular point of contention being around PIIX and the idea of
> starting a QEMU instance without one.
Right. In particular I tend to agree with the other QEMU maintainers
when they say: why ask for a PIIX3 compatible machine, when actually you
don't want to be PIIX3 compatible?
> The general desire from us is
> we want to have a specific device emulated and nothing else.
This is really not possible with QEMU, because QEMU is a machine
emulator, not a device emulator. BTW who wants this? I mean, why is this
part of the QEMU depriv discussion? It is not necessary. I think what we
want for QEMU depriv is to be able to build a QEMU PV machine with just
the PV backends in it, which is attainable with the current
architecture. I know there are use cases for having an emulator of just
one device, but I don't think they should be confused with the more
important underlying issue here, which is QEMU running with full
> It is
> suggested you would have a software interface between each device that
> looked a software version of PCI. The PIIX device could be attached to
> CPU this pseudo PCI interface. This would fit in well with how IOREQ
> server and IOMMU works. Although this sounds like a large
> architectural change is wanted, its suggested that actually its just
> that we're asking them to take a different stability and plug-ability
> posture on the interfaces they already have.
> This architectural issue is the cause behind lots of little
> annoyances, which have been going on for years. Xen is having to make
> up lots of strange stuff to keep QEMU happy, and there is confusion
> over memory ownership. Fixing the architecture should make our lives
> much easier. These architectural issues are also making things
> difficult for Intel, who are trying to work around the issue with Xen
> changes, which may just worsen the problem. This means this is
> effectively blocking them.
> It is proposed that instead of having a QEMU binary, what is really
> wanted is a QEMU library. With a library you could easily take the
> bits needed, create your own main loop and link them to whatever
> interface, IOREQ services or IPC mechanism is needed. There would be
> no longer be a need for the IOREQ server to be in QEMU, which is
> thought should be an attractive idea for the QEMU maintainers. It is
> also thought that other projects, such as the clear containers people
> would also benefit from such an architecture. The idea of spiltting
> out the CPU code from the device code may even be attractive to KVM.
The idea of having a QEMU library has always been resisted upstream. It
takes the project in a very different direction. As QEMU maintainer I
don't know if such a thing would actually be good for the QEMU
As I wrote, I would like to see a PV machine which can be built with
just the PV backends. This can be done without libqemu. We might also be
able to emulate a PIIX3 compatible machine without any CPUs, also
> The code in the Xen tools directory, would be a small event loop,
> using glib probably, thing that reads ioreq off a ring, and a
> thing that speaks Xenstore. There would be a bunch of initialisation
> calls, that calls into libqemu and initialise the various devices,with
> device structures for them, indicating where they should be mapped and
> so forth. There would be no IDE code in our tree, and no ioreq
> server in the QEMU tree.
> The QEMU maintainers should be in favour of removing Xen specific code
> from QEMU, and it is also thought that you could demonstrate how to
> use this to make disaggregated device models for KVM's case. It is
> further postulated that there may be many people out there with dev
> boards and experiments with FPGAs and strange PCI stuff, they don't
> want to wrestle with QEMUs PCI emulator. With the libqemu, it may
> just take 50 lines of of code for a random developer to plug some
> hardware together and make a simulator.
The way QEMU community solved this problem is by using device tree to
assemble a machine at runtime with the things needed. It works very
nicely. It can be done on x86 too as long as one doesn't try to pretend
to emulate an existing well defined machine such as PIIX3.
> There was discussion on if a halfway solution might be easier.
> However it was concluded that such a solution would likely only
> benefit Xen as a quick fix, and not as much as the full libqemu idea,
> and so not look that appealing from QEMUs perspective. While the
> the full libqemu idea would benefit many more people, allowing an
> explosion of QEMU potential use cases and users. More people using a
> project should mean more contributors.
> It was concluded that this was largely a political issue, and that we
> need to find out what the objections really are. If we where to
> convince everyone of the benefit, then we'd probably need to step up
> and to much of the work - however, this is still likely to be less
> work then maintaining the current set-up. There was further
> discussion on who our allies might be, and the approach should take to
> persuade people. It was stressed that we need to sell the benefits of
> this system i.e. "Releasing its full potential".
> The alternative to the politics may be to simply fork the project
> again - the previous fork lasted a decade. However it should be much
> better to cooperate, and so we much try.
> Action item
> Ian to reach out to Peter Maydell and discuss the issue, and to
> consider writting down new proposal.
> (updated: Probebly to early for writeup.)
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