[RFC] new initctl command

Surbhi Palande surbhi.palande at canonical.com
Tue Jun 21 07:45:04 UTC 2011

On 06/21/2011 03:19 AM, Colin Watson wrote:
> On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 08:15:47PM +0300, Surbhi Palande wrote:
>> On 06/15/2011 07:47 PM, Scott James Remnant wrote:
>>>   - the D-Bus command needs to issue a method return to allow the
>>> initctl command to exit ;-)
>> Ok! I have uploaded a new diff with this change. Since we need to
>> return (along with sending a reply) before doing an execvp, we need
>> two threads of execution. I have used fork to achieve this.
>> Before returning to initctl, the child process changes the default
>> SIGTERM handler to a new one which on invocation calls exit(). Then
>> the child process returns to the initctl command whereas the parent
>> process waits for this child process to exit. When initctl gets a
>> successful return, initctl sends the child process a SIGTERM signal
>> upon which the child process exits. The parent process continues to
>> execvp the new requested init after it unblocks from the blocking
>> waitpid().
> Relying on signals for this is problematic.  The child process here is
> essentially another init in the old filesystem namespace, and even
> though it isn't pid 1 it might well carry on to try to start other jobs
> and generally cause havoc if the signal isn't delivered in a timely
> fashion.  Remember that the kernel is entirely entitled to schedule
> things as follows:
>    initctl             init parent            init child
>       |
>       |   method call
>       |-------------------->|       fork
>       |                     |--------------------->|
>       |                     |                      |
>       |                     | (waitpid)            |
>       |                     |                      |
>       |                     |  method return       |
>       |<-------------------------------------------|
>       |                     |                      |
>       |                     |                      | (continue as init)
>       |                     |                      |
>       (... twiddle thumbs for some time ...)
>       |                     |                      |
>       |   SIGTERM           |                      |
>       |------------------------------------------->| (dies)
>       |                     |
>       |                     | (execvp)
> As far as I can tell, it simply isn't safe to rely on sending a signal
> from initctl for this; the ordering can't be made correct.  It would
> work if you could pause the child while waiting for a signal, but if you
> could do that easily then you could simply exit from the child.

Ok! I agree on this.
> On IRC a few days ago, I suggested using a D-Bus signal (not to be
> confused with Unix signals, of course), so that initctl doesn't have to
> wait for a reply from init and you don't need this awkward pair of
> processes.  You said today that that had proved to be difficult because
> there was no implementation that let you send a signal to upstart from
> initctl.  Could you explain in more detail why this didn't work out?

Actually, I have not tried this in detail. But when I looked at the xml 
files and the implementations of the signals, it turned out that all the 
signals were sent *from* upstart and none to upstart.

So for example, if I do this:

     <signal name="PivotToNewRootfs">
       <arg name="rootfs" type="s" direction="in"/>
       <arg name="init" type="s"  direction="in"/>

then the compiler complains that the direction cannot be "in" but has to 
be "out". I comprehended this as upstart sending the arguments "out" to 
the outside world. I don't know the current method of making the 
direction of the arguments "in" to upstart. Is there a simple way of 
doing this? I am missing something there :-/

> If you declare it as<signal>  in com.ubuntu.Upstart.xml, nih-dbus-tool
> should give you a function called something like
> upstart_emit_pivot_to_new_rootfs; style in other parts of Upstart seems
> to be to wrap calls to these *_emit_* functions in NIH_ZERO, but that
> should be about it:
>    NIH_ZERO (upstart_emit_pivot_to_new_rootfs (NULL, upstart, args[0],
>                                                args[1]));
> Wouldn't that be easier?  It seems a lot simpler than any scheme
> involving concurrency.

> (As I said on IRC: using a D-Bus signal sacrifices the ability to tell
> whether the pivot succeeded or failed.  My feeling is that implementing
> that correctly in this case would be pretty tortuous, probably involving
> inserting some code near the start of main and having Upstart know
> whether it was started via pivot or not so that it could send the
> success reply, and that the benefit is pretty marginal since all you'll
> probably be able to do anyway in response to a failure is crash.)


Warm Regards,

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