USB storage detachment / reattachment

Norman Feske norman.feske at ...1...
Fri Dec 23 09:11:16 CET 2016

Hi Martijn,

> - When I remove the USB stick, the usb driver detects removal, but
> the rump_fs remains unaware. The CLI component can successfully open
> new file system sessions and even list the files in the root
> directory, even though the actual storage device is detached...

this is where the problem begins. Unlike the NIC session, neither the
block session nor the file-system session has any notion of unplugging
devices. Once connected, a client expects the session to be available
until it is closed.

> - The rump_fs server aborts when a filesystem is not of the expected
> type.

I think this is the adequate behavior in this situation. From the
file-system's perspective, this is fatal condition.

> - To complicate matters more, the target platform is booted from a -
> different - USB stick. Currently the usb driver detects this USB
> stick as mass storage device and the rump_fs aborts because the fs is
> not the expected ext2fs.

What you describe is the general case of using hot-swappable storage. To
build a system that works, we need to anticipate the fact that storage
sizes and file-system types may differ. The system must still stay robust.

> For the latter finding, I am aware that the usb driver supports a
> policy mechanism for raw devices (in combination with the
> usb_report_filter component). But to my knowledge for storage
> devices, such a policy mechanism does not exist, right?

Our mid-term goal is to remove the build-in storage/HID/networking
support from the USB driver and move this functionality into dedicated
components that use the USB-session interface. This will make us much
more flexible because the policy configuration can then be used to
explicitly assign devices to a clients. Right now, the USB driver's
built-in policy provides the first storage device as a block session.
This is quite limiting. I.e., there is no good way to access multiple
storage devices at the same time.

> Regarding detachment / reattachment of USB storage, I understand that
> at startup of this composition, the rump_fs server immediately
> requests a block session at the part_blk server, which in turn
> requests a block session at the usb driver. This whole blocks until a
> USB storage device is plugged in. When this happens, the chain of
> sessions requests is setup and the file system client can access the
> medium. Now if the USB storage device is detached, what happens to
> the open sessions?

They ultimately fail. From their perspective, the situation is not
different from a just-died hard disk.

To implement your scenario, we need to come up with an protocol that
takes care of orderly closing the sessions before the medium disappears.

1. We need to tell the client to release the file-system session, e.g.,
   via a config update or by killing the client. Once, the client
   complied (or ceased to exist),
2. We need to tell the (now client-less) file-system server to close
   the block session. In principle, we could just kill it since it
   has no client anyway. But in practice, we want to make sure that
   the file system writes back the content of its block cache before
   closing the block session. Once, the file-system server is gone,
3. We need to tell part_blk to release the block session at the
   driver, or kill it. Once part_blk is gone,
4. There is no longer a block client at the USB driver. So we can
   remove the USB stick. The next time a client connects, it will
   perform the regular procedure that worked for the first time.

As of now, Genode provides no established solution to realize such a
protocol. The dynamic init that I outlined my road-map posting will make
such scenarios much easier to implement. But until it is ready, I am
afraid that you will need to implement it in the form of a custom runtime.

> As a way to support detachment / reattachment of USB storage I’m
> thinking about placing the rump_fs and part_blk components in a child
> subtree of the CLI component that is spawned on demand and cleaned-up
> after use. But this seems a bit like overkill.

That's exactly the right solution. I don't think that it's overkill
either. Spawning up rump_fs and part_blk dynamically is certainly quick
enough. Memory-wise, it does not take more resources that a static
scenario either. By letting your CLI component implement the protocol
outlined above, you have full control over chain of events. Also the
aborting rump_fs is nothing fatal anymore but can be gracefully handled
by the CLI component. As another benefit, the solution does not need us
to supplement the notion of hot-plugging to the file-system and block
session interfaces, which would otherwise inflate the complexity of
these interfaces (and thereby all the clients that rely on them).


Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
Genode Labs ·

Genode Labs GmbH · Amtsgericht Dresden · HRB 28424 · Sitz Dresden
Geschäftsführer: Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske, Christian Helmuth

More information about the users mailing list