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SubjectRe: [PATCH v4 00/14] Add kdbus implementation

On April 3, 2015 6:51:34 AM CDT, David Herrmann <> wrote:
>On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 8:29 PM, Andy Lutomirski <>
>> On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 8:10 AM, Tom Gundersen <> wrote:
>>> On Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 3:58 PM, Andy Lutomirski
><> wrote:
>>>> IOW you're taking something that you dislike aspects of and shoving
>>>> most of it in the kernel. That guarantees us an API in the kernel
>>>> that even the creators don't really like. This is, IMO, very
>>>> unfortunate.
>>> This is a misrepresentation of what David wrote. We do want this API
>>> regardless of dbus1 compatibility, but compatibility is by itself a
>>> sufficient motivation. A further motivation is reliable
>>> since this meta-data allows listing current peers on the bus and
>>> showing their identities. That's hugely useful to make the bus
>>> transparent to admins.
>> I've heard the following use cases for per-connection metadata:
>> - Authenticating to dbus1 services.
>Not necessarily authentication, but we need to support the legacy API,
>for whatever reason it was used by old applications. But..
>> - Identifying connected users for admin diagnostics.
>> I've heard the following use cases for per-message metadata:
>> - Logging.
>> - Authenticating to kdbus services that want this style of
>..please note that authentication on DBus has always been done with
>per-message metadata (see polkit history). However, this had to be
>reverted some years ago as it is racy (it used /proc for that, which
>can be exploited by exec'ing setuid binaries). However, the
>per-message metadata authentication worked very well for _years_
>(minus the race..), so this is already a well-established scheme. With
>kdbus we can finally implement this in a race-free manner.
>> This is simply not okay for a modern interface, and in my opinion the
>> kernel should not carry code to support new APIs with weakly defined
>> security semantics. It's important that one be able to tell what the
>> security implications of one's code is without cross-referencing with
>> the implementation of the server's you're interacting with.
>Again, I disagree. Our concepts are established and used on UDS and
>DBus for decades.
>Yes, we provide two ways to retrieve metadata, but the kernel offers
>several more paths to gather that information. Just because those APIs
>are available does not mean they should be used for authentication. We
>mandate per-message metadata. If applications use per-connection
>metadata, /proc, netlink, or random data, they're doing it wrong.
>Furthermore, dbus provides pretty complete and straightforward
>libraries which hide that from you. If you use glib, qt or sd-bus, you
>don't even need to deal with all that.
>> To top that off, the kdbus policy mechanism has truly bizarre effects
>> with respect to services that have unique ids and well-known names.
>> That, too, is apparently for compatibility.
>> This all feels to me like a total of about four people are going to
>> understand the tangle that is kdbus security, and that's bad. I
>> that the kernel should insist that new security-critical mechanisms
>> make sense and be hard to misuse. The current design of kdbus, in
>> contrast, feel like it will be very hard to use correctly.
>Native kdbus clients are authenticated with their credentials at time
>of method call. Legacy clients will always have their credentials at
>time of connect in effect. No fallbacks, no choices. It's a simple
>question whether it's a legacy client or not.
>Sounds simple to me.

So I just took a slightly deeper look and the user namespace bits are wrong. Both in implementation
and in design.

Passing "capabilities" to user space for reasons of authentication is wrong and a maintenance nightmare. Further the capabilities maintainer Serge Hallyn has not been copied.

There are several other pieces of information in your meta data like cmdline that I have similar concerns about, but are I am less familiar with, and have looked at less.

Which leads my to conclude that in its current form kdbus is inappropriate for inclusion in the kernel.

The code is dangerously and inappropriately wrong and comes with a huge maintenance obligation to people outside of kdbus.


The only way I can see this code being responsibly merged is for all if the metadata to be thrown out. The basics merged and then one small piece at a time with copious review and explanation the metadata be added back in.

If you can not throw out the meta data the kdbus code is too broken in concept to warrant serious consideration.


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