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Kernel Memory Allocator Exploring memory allocation in Linux kernel 2.4.20.

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Presentation on theme: "Kernel Memory Allocator Exploring memory allocation in Linux kernel 2.4.20."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kernel Memory Allocator Exploring memory allocation in Linux kernel

2 KMA Subsystem Goals Must be fast (this is crucial) Should minimize memory waste Try to avoid memory fragmentation Cooperate with other kernel subsystems

3 ‘Layered’ software structure At the lowest level, the kernel allocates and frees ‘blocks’ of contiguous pages of phyical memory: struct page * __alloc_pages( zonelist_t *zonelist, unsigned long order ); (The number of pages in a ‘block’ is a power of 2.)

4 The zoned buddy allocator 128 KB 64 KB 32 KB ‘splitting’ a free memory region

5 block allocation sizes Smallest block is 4 KB (i.e., one page) order = 0 Largest block is 128 KB (i.e., 32 pages) order = 5

6 Inefficiency of small requests Many requests are for less than a full page Wasteful to allocate an entire page! So Linux uses a ‘slab allocator’ subsystem

7 Idea of a ‘slab cache’ manager The memory block contains several equal-sized ‘slabs’ (together with a data-structure used to ‘manage’ them) kmem_cache_create()

8 Allocation Flags __get_free_pages( flags, order ); GFP_KERNEL(might sleep) GFP_ATOMIC(will not sleep) GFP_USER(low priority) __GFP_DMA(below 16MB) __GFP_HIGHMEM (from high_memory)

9 Virtual memory allocations Want to allocate a larger-sized block? Don’t need physically contiguous pages? You can use the ‘vmalloc()’ function

10 The VMALLOC address-region VMALLOC_START VMALLOC_END vmlist Linked list of ‘struct vm_struct’ objects gap

11 ‘struct vm_struct’ struct vm_struct { unsigned longflags; void *addr; unsigned longsize; struct vm_struct*next; }; Defined in

12 The ‘vmlist’ variable Not a public kernel symbol: $ grep vmlist /proc/ksyms So our modules cannot link to ‘vmlist’  Yet maybe we can find its address anyway

13 The ‘’ file When the kernel is compiled, a textfile gets created in the ‘source’ directory: /usr/src/linux/ Each line shows the name and address for a kernel symbol (function-name or data-object)

14 Sometimes file gets moved Some Linux distributions copy (or move) the ‘’ file to ‘/boot’ directory Some Linux distributions rename the file (e.g., ‘/boot/ ’) This file will show where ‘vmlist’ is located (Can we find our ‘’ file?)

15 Another ‘solution’ We can ‘decompile’ our Linux kernel! The compiled kernel is written to the file: ‘vmlinux’ gcc puts file in the ‘/usr/src/linux’ directory Some distributions may move (or delete) it It is NOT the same as the file ‘vmlinuz’ ! Can use ‘objdump’ to get a list of symbols

16 ‘objdump’ Here’s how to find the ‘vmlist’ address: $ objdump –t vmlinux > vmlinux.sym $ grep vmlist vmlinux.sym You can also get a code-disassembly: $ objdump –d vmlinux > vmlinux.asm

17 Looking at ‘vm_struct’ list Let’s write a module (named ‘vmlist.c’) It will create a pseudo-file: ‘/proc/vmlist’ We can look at the current ‘vmlist’ objects: $ cat /proc/vmlist Similar to seeing list of process descriptors

18 ‘my_proc_read()’ struct vm_struct **vmlistp, *vm; vmlistp = (struct vm_struct **)0xD64A5124; vm = *vmlistp; while ( vm ) { /* Display information in this vm_struct; */ vm = vm->next; // point to next vm_struct }

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