USB storage detachment / reattachment

Norman Feske norman.feske at ...1...
Fri Jan 13 11:32:31 CET 2017

Hello Boris,

welcome to the mailing list and thank you for the elaborate description
of your scenario and approach.

As a side note, the discussion reminds me of a very similar problem we
addressed some years ago:

Unfortunately, we removed the described d3m component later on because
it turned out to be not as flexible as we hoped for. However, on the
positive side, scenarios like your's are not completely alien to Genode. ;-)
> This is exactly what we're trying to do now. We want to create a custom
> component called "media" that monitors usb devices by reading the
> report. It provides a service to other components through which they can
> request a filesystem session in order to read-write from/to the usb-stick. For
> this, it spawns the part_blk and rump_fs components as children if the
> usb is plugged in, and kills them once the usb is plugged out. It
> roughly looks like this:
>  rump_fs   part_blk
>        |   |
> CLI    media    USB_drv
>  |       |       |
>         init

This looks very good to me.

> But this raises a few questions. First, the filesystem interface needs
> to be presented to the client somehow. To avoid adding another layer of
> indirection into media, essentially duplicating rump_fs's entire API, we
> would like the client (in this case CLI) to be directly connected to
> rump_fs. The client can then ask media if the USB is connected before
> calling a function from rump_fs.

You are right that wrapping the 'File_system' interface would be
cumbersome. In your case, it is better to let CLI use the
rump_fs-provided session directly. This can be achieved by letting the
media component pass the session capability as obtained from rump_fs to
its parent (init). So CLI would use the rump_fs session directly.

> However, this means that rump_fs provides a service, announces it to its
> parent (media), and media has to decide what to do with that announce.
> It can implement rump_fs as a slave, but that way the entire API needs
> to be copied into media so media can present it as its own service to the client.

You are already on the right track. Running rump_fs as a slave is good.
You just missed a tiny piece of the puzzle: The 'Slave::Connection' does
not only provide the session interface of the slave's service but also
the corresponding 'Session_capability' (it inherits
'CONNECTION::Client', so the 'Slave::Connection' _is_ a session
capability). Instead of calling the 'File_system' methods, the media
component would pass this 'Session_capability' to init as response to
the 'File_system' session request that originated from init.

> Services can only be provided to direct parents, and to other components
> in the parent's subtree. Therefore, copying the API from the child to
> the parent seems unavoidable.

There is no such limitation. But you are right that the use case has
been so rare that it is near to impossible to find examples in Genode's
source tree. The above mentioned d3m was such an example. Other examples
are the GDB monitor (however, here we temporarily removed the feature to
run Genode services within GDB monitor).

> Another problem that pops up is that media has to spawn all these
> subcomponents as children. In order to route block session requests from
> rump-fs to part-blk, media needs to implement some routing policy and
> effectively serves the same role for these two components as init serves
> for the system. So we could:
> 1. Copy all necessary code for routing from init to media (which is
> almost all code if we want to be generic).
> 2. Let media spawn another init child component (let's call it sub-init
> for now) which in turn spawns rump-fs and part-blk and does the routing.
> To us, the second option seems much more clean as it involves no
> code-copying. However, services announced by rump-fs can not be used by
> other components that are not children of the new init, and are kind of
> useless. Their announcements can not be passed on to the parents,
> leaving us with the same problem as we had with rump_fs but with the
> additional problem that even if there would be a custom way to forward
> service announces and requests to the parent/child respectively,
> sub-init has no such policy, and this functionality has to be included
> in sub-init's code as well, adding a lot of complexity.

I agree with everything you said. Until Genode 16.11 is was not
reasonable for init to forward session requests to its children because
of the synchronous nature of the parent interface. Now that we revised
this interface to work asynchronously [1], we can move forward and add
this feature to init. Indeed, I plan to add it along with the dynamic
reconfiguability of init in the near-term future (as outlined in my
original road-map posting [2]). With the new version of init, scenarios
like your's will become pretty straight-forward to realize.


> And how should we solve cases such as the above scenario?

In the not-too-distant future, your case should be well covered by init,
alleviating the need to implement a custom runtime component. In the
meantime, I recommend you to follow the slave approach described above
(forwarding the session capability of the 'Slave::Connection' to init).

I would be very interested to hear how this turns out. Should my above
description remain too vague or leave your questions unanswered, please
don't hesitate to get back to me.


Dr.-Ing. Norman Feske
Genode Labs ·

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

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