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Userspace filesystem:
A filesystem in which data and metadata are provided by an ordinary
userspace process. The filesystem can be accessed normally through
the kernel interface.
Filesystem daemon:
The process(es) providing the data and metadata of the filesystem.
Non-privileged mount (or user mount):
A userspace filesystem mounted by a non-privileged (non-root) user.
The filesystem daemon is running with the privileges of the mounting
user. NOTE: this is not the same as mounts allowed with the "user"
option in /etc/fstab, which is not discussed here.
Mount owner:
The user who does the mounting.
The user who is performing filesystem operations.
What is FUSE?
FUSE is a userspace filesystem framework. It consists of a kernel
module (fuse.ko), a userspace library (libfuse.*) and a mount utility
One of the most important features of FUSE is allowing secure,
non-privileged mounts. This opens up new possibilities for the use of
filesystems. A good example is sshfs: a secure network filesystem
using the sftp protocol.
The userspace library and utilities are available from the FUSE
Mount options
The file descriptor to use for communication between the userspace
filesystem and the kernel. The file descriptor must have been
obtained by opening the FUSE device ('/dev/fuse').
The file mode of the filesystem's root in octal representation.
The numeric user id of the mount owner.
The numeric group id of the mount owner.
By default FUSE doesn't check file access permissions, the
filesystem is free to implement it's access policy or leave it to
the underlying file access mechanism (e.g. in case of network
filesystems). This option enables permission checking, restricting
access based on file mode. This is option is usually useful
together with the 'allow_other' mount option.
This option overrides the security measure restricting file access
to the user mounting the filesystem. This option is by default only
allowed to root, but this restriction can be removed with a
(userspace) configuration option.
With this option the maximum size of read operations can be set.
The default is infinite. Note that the size of read requests is
limited anyway to 32 pages (which is 128kbyte on i386).
FUSE sets up the following hierarchy in sysfs:
where N is an increasing number allocated to each new connection.
For each connection the following attributes are defined:
The number of requests which are waiting to be transfered to
userspace or being processed by the filesystem daemon. If there is
no filesystem activity and 'waiting' is non-zero, then the
filesystem is hung or deadlocked.
Writing anything into this file will abort the filesystem
connection. This means that all waiting requests will be aborted an
error returned for all aborted and new requests.
Only a privileged user may read or write these attributes.
Aborting a filesystem connection
It is possible to get into certain situations where the filesystem is
not responding. Reasons for this may be:
a) Broken userspace filesystem implementation
b) Network connection down
c) Accidental deadlock
d) Malicious deadlock
(For more on c) and d) see later sections)
In either of these cases it may be useful to abort the connection to
the filesystem. There are several ways to do this:
- Kill the filesystem daemon. Works in case of a) and b)
- Kill the filesystem daemon and all users of the filesystem. Works
in all cases except some malicious deadlocks
- Use forced umount (umount -f). Works in all cases but only if
filesystem is still attached (it hasn't been lazy unmounted)
- Abort filesystem through the sysfs interface. Most powerful
method, always works.
How do non-privileged mounts work?
Since the mount() system call is a privileged operation, a helper
program (fusermount) is needed, which is installed setuid root.
The implication of providing non-privileged mounts is that the mount
owner must not be able to use this capability to compromise the
system. Obvious requirements arising from this are:
A) mount owner should not be able to get elevated privileges with the
help of the mounted filesystem
B) mount owner should not get illegitimate access to information from
other users' and the super user's processes
C) mount owner should not be able to induce undesired behavior in
other users' or the super user's processes
How are requirements fulfilled?
A) The mount owner could gain elevated privileges by either:
1) creating a filesystem containing a device file, then opening
this device
2) creating a filesystem containing a suid or sgid application,
then executing this application
The solution is not to allow opening device files and ignore
setuid and setgid bits when executing programs. To ensure this
fusermount always adds "nosuid" and "nodev" to the mount options
for non-privileged mounts.
B) If another user is accessing files or directories in the
filesystem, the filesystem daemon serving requests can record the
exact sequence and timing of operations performed. This
information is otherwise inaccessible to the mount owner, so this
counts as an information leak.
The solution to this problem will be presented in point 2) of C).
C) There are several ways in which the mount owner can induce
undesired behavior in other users' processes, such as:
1) mounting a filesystem over a file or directory which the mount
owner could otherwise not be able to modify (or could only
make limited modifications).
This is solved in fusermount, by checking the access
permissions on the mountpoint and only allowing the mount if
the mount owner can do unlimited modification (has write
access to the mountpoint, and mountpoint is not a "sticky"
2) Even if 1) is solved the mount owner can change the behavior
of other users' processes.
i) It can slow down or indefinitely delay the execution of a
filesystem operation creating a DoS against the user or the
whole system. For example a suid application locking a
system file, and then accessing a file on the mount owner's
filesystem could be stopped, and thus causing the system
file to be locked forever.
ii) It can present files or directories of unlimited length, or
directory structures of unlimited depth, possibly causing a
system process to eat up diskspace, memory or other
resources, again causing DoS.
The solution to this as well as B) is not to allow processes
to access the filesystem, which could otherwise not be
monitored or manipulated by the mount owner. Since if the
mount owner can ptrace a process, it can do all of the above
without using a FUSE mount, the same criteria as used in
ptrace can be used to check if a process is allowed to access
the filesystem or not.
Note that the ptrace check is not strictly necessary to
prevent B/2/i, it is enough to check if mount owner has enough
privilege to send signal to the process accessing the
filesystem, since SIGSTOP can be used to get a similar effect.
I think these limitations are unacceptable?
If a sysadmin trusts the users enough, or can ensure through other
measures, that system processes will never enter non-privileged
mounts, it can relax the last limitation with a "user_allow_other"
config option. If this config option is set, the mounting user can
add the "allow_other" mount option which disables the check for other
users' processes.
Kernel - userspace interface
The following diagram shows how a filesystem operation (in this
example unlink) is performed in FUSE.
NOTE: everything in this description is greatly simplified
| "rm /mnt/fuse/file" | FUSE filesystem daemon
| |
| | >sys_read()
| | >fuse_dev_read()
| | >request_wait()
| | [sleep on fc->waitq]
| |
| >sys_unlink() |
| >fuse_unlink() |
| [get request from |
| fc->unused_list] |
| >request_send() |
| [queue req on fc->pending] |
| [wake up fc->waitq] | [woken up]
| >request_wait_answer() |
| [sleep on req->waitq] |
| | <request_wait()
| | [remove req from fc->pending]
| | [copy req to read buffer]
| | [add req to fc->processing]
| | <fuse_dev_read()
| | <sys_read()
| |
| | [perform unlink]
| |
| | >sys_write()
| | >fuse_dev_write()
| | [look up req in fc->processing]
| | [remove from fc->processing]
| | [copy write buffer to req]
| [woken up] | [wake up req->waitq]
| | <fuse_dev_write()
| | <sys_write()
| <request_wait_answer() |
| <request_send() |
| [add request to |
| fc->unused_list] |
| <fuse_unlink() |
| <sys_unlink() |
There are a couple of ways in which to deadlock a FUSE filesystem.
Since we are talking about unprivileged userspace programs,
something must be done about these.
Scenario 1 - Simple deadlock
| "rm /mnt/fuse/file" | FUSE filesystem daemon
| |
| >sys_unlink("/mnt/fuse/file") |
| [acquire inode semaphore |
| for "file"] |
| >fuse_unlink() |
| [sleep on req->waitq] |
| | <sys_read()
| | >sys_unlink("/mnt/fuse/file")
| | [acquire inode semaphore
| | for "file"]
The solution for this is to allow requests to be interrupted while
they are in userspace:
| [interrupted by signal] |
| <fuse_unlink() |
| [release semaphore] | [semaphore acquired]
| <sys_unlink() |
| | >fuse_unlink()
| | [queue req on fc->pending]
| | [wake up fc->waitq]
| | [sleep on req->waitq]
If the filesystem daemon was single threaded, this will stop here,
since there's no other thread to dequeue and execute the request.
In this case the solution is to kill the FUSE daemon as well. If
there are multiple serving threads, you just have to kill them as
long as any remain.
Moral: a filesystem which deadlocks, can soon find itself dead.
Scenario 2 - Tricky deadlock
This one needs a carefully crafted filesystem. It's a variation on
the above, only the call back to the filesystem is not explicit,
but is caused by a pagefault.
| Kamikaze filesystem thread 1 | Kamikaze filesystem thread 2
| |
| [fd = open("/mnt/fuse/file")] | [request served normally]
| [mmap fd to 'addr'] |
| [close fd] | [FLUSH triggers 'magic' flag]
| [read a byte from addr] |
| >do_page_fault() |
| [find or create page] |
| [lock page] |
| >fuse_readpage() |
| [queue READ request] |
| [sleep on req->waitq] |
| | [read request to buffer]
| | [create reply header before addr]
| | >sys_write(addr - headerlength)
| | >fuse_dev_write()
| | [look up req in fc->processing]
| | [remove from fc->processing]
| | [copy write buffer to req]
| | >do_page_fault()
| | [find or create page]
| | [lock page]
| | * DEADLOCK *
Solution is again to let the the request be interrupted (not
elaborated further).
An additional problem is that while the write buffer is being
copied to the request, the request must not be interrupted. This
is because the destination address of the copy may not be valid
after the request is interrupted.
This is solved with doing the copy atomically, and allowing
interruption while the page(s) belonging to the write buffer are
faulted with get_user_pages(). The 'req->locked' flag indicates
when the copy is taking place, and interruption is delayed until
this flag is unset.
Scenario 3 - Tricky deadlock with asynchronous read
The same situation as above, except thread-1 will wait on page lock
and hence it will be uninterruptible as well. The solution is to
abort the connection with forced umount (if mount is attached) or
through the abort attribute in sysfs.