Zack's Kernel News

Zack's Kernel News

Article from Issue 243/2021

This month in Kernel News: Debugging Production Systems; Patch Submission Guidelines; New Filesystem for SSD and Flash Drives; and Unlocking Memory Access.

Debugging Production Systems

In general, a developer might debug the Linux kernel by compiling a bunch of special debugging features, performance analysis features, and whatnot. Then they'll patch any kernel bugs they find. However, the actual users who benefit from those bug fixes would not run the debugging features themselves, because there would be too much overhead. Regular Linux users want fast, low-resource, secure systems that generally kick ass in all directions.

Recently however, Marco Elver of Google submitted a patch implementing Kernel Electric-Fence (KFENCE), a debugging tool that's intended to ship as a default feature of the standard Linux source tree. Why would he turn the world upside down in this way?

KFENCE's goal is to identify memory leaks and boundary violations. Other debugging tools such as KernelAddressSANitizer (KASAN) do this too, but they take a system-wide performance hit in order to find those problems.


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