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+Miscellaneous Device control operations for the autofs4 kernel module
+The problem
+There is a problem with active restarts in autofs (that is to say
+restarting autofs when there are busy mounts).
+During normal operation autofs uses a file descriptor opened on the
+directory that is being managed in order to be able to issue control
+operations. Using a file descriptor gives ioctl operations access to
+autofs specific information stored in the super block. The operations
+are things such as setting an autofs mount catatonic, setting the
+expire timeout and requesting expire checks. As is explained below,
+certain types of autofs triggered mounts can end up covering an autofs
+mount itself which prevents us being able to use open(2) to obtain a
+file descriptor for these operations if we don't already have one open.
+Currently autofs uses "umount -l" (lazy umount) to clear active mounts
+at restart. While using lazy umount works for most cases, anything that
+needs to walk back up the mount tree to construct a path, such as
+getcwd(2) and the proc file system /proc/<pid>/cwd, no longer works
+because the point from which the path is constructed has been detached
+from the mount tree.
+The actual problem with autofs is that it can't reconnect to existing
+mounts. Immediately one thinks of just adding the ability to remount
+autofs file systems would solve it, but alas, that can't work. This is
+because autofs direct mounts and the implementation of "on demand mount
+and expire" of nested mount trees have the file system mounted directly
+on top of the mount trigger directory dentry.
+For example, there are two types of automount maps, direct (in the kernel
+module source you will see a third type called an offset, which is just
+a direct mount in disguise) and indirect.
+Here is a master map with direct and indirect map entries:
+/- /etc/auto.direct
+/test /etc/auto.indirect
+and the corresponding map files:
+/automount/dparse/g6 budgie:/autofs/export1
+/automount/dparse/g1 shark:/autofs/export1
+and so on.
+g1 shark:/autofs/export1
+g6 budgie:/autofs/export1
+and so on.
+For the above indirect map an autofs file system is mounted on /test and
+mounts are triggered for each sub-directory key by the inode lookup
+operation. So we see a mount of shark:/autofs/export1 on /test/g1, for
+The way that direct mounts are handled is by making an autofs mount on
+each full path, such as /automount/dparse/g1, and using it as a mount
+trigger. So when we walk on the path we mount shark:/autofs/export1 "on
+top of this mount point". Since these are always directories we can
+use the follow_link inode operation to trigger the mount.
+But, each entry in direct and indirect maps can have offsets (making
+them multi-mount map entries).
+For example, an indirect mount map entry could also be:
+g1 \
+ / shark:/autofs/export5/testing/test \
+ /s1 shark:/autofs/export/testing/test/s1 \
+ /s2 shark:/autofs/export5/testing/test/s2 \
+ /s1/ss1 shark:/autofs/export1 \
+ /s2/ss2 shark:/autofs/export2
+and a similarly a direct mount map entry could also be:
+/automount/dparse/g1 \
+ / shark:/autofs/export5/testing/test \
+ /s1 shark:/autofs/export/testing/test/s1 \
+ /s2 shark:/autofs/export5/testing/test/s2 \
+ /s1/ss1 shark:/autofs/export2 \
+ /s2/ss2 shark:/autofs/export2
+One of the issues with version 4 of autofs was that, when mounting an
+entry with a large number of offsets, possibly with nesting, we needed
+to mount and umount all of the offsets as a single unit. Not really a
+problem, except for people with a large number of offsets in map entries.
+This mechanism is used for the well known "hosts" map and we have seen
+cases (in 2.4) where the available number of mounts are exhausted or
+where the number of privileged ports available is exhausted.
+In version 5 we mount only as we go down the tree of offsets and
+similarly for expiring them which resolves the above problem. There is
+somewhat more detail to the implementation but it isn't needed for the
+sake of the problem explanation. The one important detail is that these
+offsets are implemented using the same mechanism as the direct mounts
+above and so the mount points can be covered by a mount.
+The current autofs implementation uses an ioctl file descriptor opened
+on the mount point for control operations. The references held by the
+descriptor are accounted for in checks made to determine if a mount is
+in use and is also used to access autofs file system information held
+in the mount super block. So the use of a file handle needs to be
+The Solution
+To be able to restart autofs leaving existing direct, indirect and
+offset mounts in place we need to be able to obtain a file handle
+for these potentially covered autofs mount points. Rather than just
+implement an isolated operation it was decided to re-implement the
+existing ioctl interface and add new operations to provide this
+In addition, to be able to reconstruct a mount tree that has busy mounts,
+the uid and gid of the last user that triggered the mount needs to be
+available because these can be used as macro substitution variables in
+autofs maps. They are recorded at mount request time and an operation
+has been added to retrieve them.
+Since we're re-implementing the control interface, a couple of other
+problems with the existing interface have been addressed. First, when
+a mount or expire operation completes a status is returned to the
+kernel by either a "send ready" or a "send fail" operation. The
+"send fail" operation of the ioctl interface could only ever send
+ENOENT so the re-implementation allows user space to send an actual
+status. Another expensive operation in user space, for those using
+very large maps, is discovering if a mount is present. Usually this
+involves scanning /proc/mounts and since it needs to be done quite
+often it can introduce significant overhead when there are many entries
+in the mount table. An operation to lookup the mount status of a mount
+point dentry (covered or not) has also been added.
+Current kernel development policy recommends avoiding the use of the
+ioctl mechanism in favor of systems such as Netlink. An implementation
+using this system was attempted to evaluate its suitability and it was
+found to be inadequate, in this case. The Generic Netlink system was
+used for this as raw Netlink would lead to a significant increase in
+complexity. There's no question that the Generic Netlink system is an
+elegant solution for common case ioctl functions but it's not a complete
+replacement probably because it's primary purpose in life is to be a
+message bus implementation rather than specifically an ioctl replacement.
+While it would be possible to work around this there is one concern
+that lead to the decision to not use it. This is that the autofs
+expire in the daemon has become far to complex because umount
+candidates are enumerated, almost for no other reason than to "count"
+the number of times to call the expire ioctl. This involves scanning
+the mount table which has proved to be a big overhead for users with
+large maps. The best way to improve this is try and get back to the
+way the expire was done long ago. That is, when an expire request is
+issued for a mount (file handle) we should continually call back to
+the daemon until we can't umount any more mounts, then return the
+appropriate status to the daemon. At the moment we just expire one
+mount at a time. A Generic Netlink implementation would exclude this
+possibility for future development due to the requirements of the
+message bus architecture.
+autofs4 Miscellaneous Device mount control interface
+The control interface is opening a device node, typically /dev/autofs.
+All the ioctls use a common structure to pass the needed parameter
+information and return operation results:
+struct autofs_dev_ioctl {
+ __u32 ver_major;
+ __u32 ver_minor;
+ __u32 size; /* total size of data passed in
+ * including this struct */
+ __s32 ioctlfd; /* automount command fd */
+ __u32 arg1; /* Command parameters */
+ __u32 arg2;
+ char path[0];
+The ioctlfd field is a mount point file descriptor of an autofs mount
+point. It is returned by the open call and is used by all calls except
+the check for whether a given path is a mount point, where it may
+optionally be used to check a specific mount corresponding to a given
+mount point file descriptor, and when requesting the uid and gid of the
+last successful mount on a directory within the autofs file system.
+The fields arg1 and arg2 are used to communicate parameters and results of
+calls made as described below.
+The path field is used to pass a path where it is needed and the size field
+is used account for the increased structure length when translating the
+structure sent from user space.
+This structure can be initialized before setting specific fields by using
+the void function call init_autofs_dev_ioctl(struct autofs_dev_ioctl *).
+All of the ioctls perform a copy of this structure from user space to
+kernel space and return -EINVAL if the size parameter is smaller than
+the structure size itself, -ENOMEM if the kernel memory allocation fails
+or -EFAULT if the copy itself fails. Other checks include a version check
+of the compiled in user space version against the module version and a
+mismatch results in a -EINVAL return. If the size field is greater than
+the structure size then a path is assumed to be present and is checked to
+ensure it begins with a "/" and is NULL terminated, otherwise -EINVAL is
+returned. Following these checks, for all ioctl commands except
+AUTOFS_DEV_IOCTL_CLOSEMOUNT_CMD the ioctlfd is validated and if it is
+not a valid descriptor or doesn't correspond to an autofs mount point
+an error of -EBADF, -ENOTTY or -EINVAL (not an autofs descriptor) is
+The ioctls
+An example of an implementation which uses this interface can be seen
+in autofs version 5.0.4 and later in file lib/dev-ioctl-lib.c of the
+distribution tar available for download from kernel.org in directory
+The device node ioctl operations implemented by this interface are:
+Get the major and minor version of the autofs4 device ioctl kernel module
+implementation. It requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl as an
+input parameter and sets the version information in the passed in structure.
+It returns 0 on success or the error -EINVAL if a version mismatch is
+Get the major and minor version of the autofs4 protocol version understood
+by loaded module. This call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl
+with the ioctlfd field set to a valid autofs mount point descriptor
+and sets the requested version number in structure field arg1. These
+commands return 0 on success or one of the negative error codes if
+validation fails.
+Obtain and release a file descriptor for an autofs managed mount point
+path. The open call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with
+the the path field set and the size field adjusted appropriately as well
+as the arg1 field set to the device number of the autofs mount. The
+device number can be obtained from the mount options shown in
+/proc/mounts. The close call requires an initialized struct
+autofs_dev_ioct with the ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained
+from the open call. The release of the file descriptor can also be done
+with close(2) so any open descriptors will also be closed at process exit.
+The close call is included in the implemented operations largely for
+completeness and to provide for a consistent user space implementation.
+Return mount and expire result status from user space to the kernel.
+Both of these calls require an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl
+with the ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained from the open
+call and the arg1 field set to the wait queue token number, received
+by user space in the foregoing mount or expire request. The arg2 field
+is set to the status to be returned. For the ready call this is always
+0 and for the fail call it is set to the errno of the operation.
+Set the pipe file descriptor used for kernel communication to the daemon.
+Normally this is set at mount time using an option but when reconnecting
+to a existing mount we need to use this to tell the autofs mount about
+the new kernel pipe descriptor. In order to protect mounts against
+incorrectly setting the pipe descriptor we also require that the autofs
+mount be catatonic (see next call).
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with the
+ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained from the open call and
+the arg1 field set to descriptor of the pipe. On success the call
+also sets the process group id used to identify the controlling process
+(eg. the owning automount(8) daemon) to the process group of the caller.
+Make the autofs mount point catatonic. The autofs mount will no longer
+issue mount requests, the kernel communication pipe descriptor is released
+and any remaining waits in the queue released.
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with the
+ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained from the open call.
+Set the expire timeout for mounts withing an autofs mount point.
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with the
+ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained from the open call.
+Return the uid and gid of the last process to successfully trigger a the
+mount on the given path dentry.
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with the path
+field set to the mount point in question and the size field adjusted
+appropriately as well as the arg1 field set to the device number of the
+containing autofs mount. Upon return the struct field arg1 contains the
+uid and arg2 the gid.
+When reconstructing an autofs mount tree with active mounts we need to
+re-connect to mounts that may have used the original process uid and
+gid (or string variations of them) for mount lookups within the map entry.
+This call provides the ability to obtain this uid and gid so they may be
+used by user space for the mount map lookups.
+Issue an expire request to the kernel for an autofs mount. Typically
+this ioctl is called until no further expire candidates are found.
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with the
+ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained from the open call. In
+addition an immediate expire, independent of the mount timeout, can be
+requested by setting the arg1 field to 1. If no expire candidates can
+be found the ioctl returns -1 with errno set to EAGAIN.
+This call causes the kernel module to check the mount corresponding
+to the given ioctlfd for mounts that can be expired, issues an expire
+request back to the daemon and waits for completion.
+Checks if an autofs mount point is in use.
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl with the
+ioctlfd field set to the descriptor obtained from the open call and
+it returns the result in the arg1 field, 1 for busy and 0 otherwise.
+Check if the given path is a mountpoint.
+The call requires an initialized struct autofs_dev_ioctl. There are two
+possible variations. Both use the path field set to the path of the mount
+point to check and the size field adjusted appropriately. One uses the
+ioctlfd field to identify a specific mount point to check while the other
+variation uses the path and optionaly arg1 set to an autofs mount type.
+The call returns 1 if this is a mount point and sets arg1 to the device
+number of the mount and field arg2 to the relevant super block magic
+number (described below) or 0 if it isn't a mountpoint. In both cases
+the the device number (as returned by new_encode_dev()) is returned
+in field arg1.
+If supplied with a file descriptor we're looking for a specific mount,
+not necessarily at the top of the mounted stack. In this case the path
+the descriptor corresponds to is considered a mountpoint if it is itself
+a mountpoint or contains a mount, such as a multi-mount without a root
+mount. In this case we return 1 if the descriptor corresponds to a mount
+point and and also returns the super magic of the covering mount if there
+is one or 0 if it isn't a mountpoint.
+If a path is supplied (and the ioctlfd field is set to -1) then the path
+is looked up and is checked to see if it is the root of a mount. If a
+type is also given we are looking for a particular autofs mount and if
+a match isn't found a fail is returned. If the the located path is the
+root of a mount 1 is returned along with the super magic of the mount
+or 0 otherwise.