[OpenWrt-Devel] [PATCH/RFC 0/3] UBI: unify mouting rootfs based on cmdline parameter

Daniel Golle daniel at makrotopia.org
Sun Aug 28 09:47:56 EDT 2016

Hi Richard,

On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 01:57:40PM +0200, Richard Weinberger wrote:
> Daniel,
> On 28.08.2016 13:44, Daniel Golle wrote:
> > Hi Richard,
> > 
> > On Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 11:28:18AM +0200, Richard Weinberger wrote:
> >> Ralph,
> >>
> >> On 28.08.2016 11:19, Ralph Sennhauser wrote:
> >>>>> On the other hand an initramfs can carry the logic to figure out
> >>>>> which to mount and is what I use for my self. The busybox based
> >>>>> implementation I use adds a tad over 300Kb to the uImage, perfectly
> >>>>> acceptable in my case.  
> >>>>
> >>>> When your minimal initramfs consumes 300KiB you're doing something
> >>>> wrong. As I said in another thread, for your special purpose you'd
> >>>> need to create a minitmal userspace for initramfs, no fancy (eg)libc,
> >>>> just a bare minimum /init program which does the mount probing.
> >>>> Shouldn’t be more than a few system calls.
> > 
> > That would indeed be nice, however, I fail to see how this can work
> > with little effort *before* having devtmpfs ready. Also, we'll need a
> > non-standard kernel parameter (usually "real_root=") to pass the
> > selected rootfs down to our to-be-implemented micro-sized initramfs.
> devtmpfs is available in initramfs.

Yes, but you'll need to mount it (or tell the kernel to do so
automatically, which will then again cause problems on non-initramfs
systems where the init process is taking care of that).
Once you use device from that devtmpfs, you'll no longer be able to
umount it (because it's then busy), resulting in the whole initfamfs
to eat up RAM even after the real rootfs has been mounted.
As I said, I'm not generally against that, I just think it should not
be mandatory for the most simple possible case.

> >>>>
> >>>> Thanks,
> >>>> //richard
> >>>
> >>> Well, I use busybox because I'm lazy and still get away with only 300Kb.
> >>> And as I said there is plenty space on my device. (6M per uImage OEM
> >>> firmware configuration)
> >>
> >> So, problem solved. Use an initramfs. :-)
> > 
> > I agree this might be acceptable for some, but certainly not all
> > cases. Unlike to your previous statement, I'm not generally opposed
> > to having an initramfs included in the kernel as that can also provide
> > other nice features such as recovery/failsafe methods.
> > We've had this discussion before and my goal is, as I explained, to
> > make the kernel as reusable as possible and even allow people to use
> > OpenWrt/LEDE's kernel binary with other distributions. I'm sure
> > this is also possible when using an initramfs, however, I still fail to
> > see the necessity for that on simple devices.
> > Imho, using an initramfs shouldn't be mandatory which is why there are
> > patches (now down to about 80 LoC, resulting in probably less than 1kB
> > in added binary size) to mount the rootfs without the need of an
> > initramfs, simply because I do not consider that to be a
> > "complex setup" if there is no less complex and yet generic way
> > imaginable to boot on that platform at all.
> > Hence I'm not buying the argument that ubiX_Y and ubiblockX_Y are two
> > different devices and thus, this is a device selection problem and thus
> > initramfs is the recommended way -- in fact, all other filesystems
> > which do *not* build upon a block device provide some probing hacks in
> > early userspace. Take MTD as an example: mtdblock devices are
> > automagically provided and needed for block-based filesystems, no need
> > for initramfs or kernel parameters to achieve that. For UBI, ubiblock
> > (or gluebi...) is required to use UBI for anything else than UBIFS.
> > Anyway, I'm afraid you have made your decission and additional
> > arguments have no influence what-so-ever.
> > 
> >>
> >> </discussion>,
> > 
> > If that's the whole answer ("Use initramfs. End of story."), that's
> > pretty disappointing. Dispite your previous invitation to discuss the
> > matter and collaborate to address the needs of all parties involved,
> > you are now offering only one option which is not agreeable by all
> > parties (which is the obvious reason for those nasty patches to exist
> > in first place). Carrying a few patches in our local overlay doesn't
> > truly hurt in a technical sense, however, it'd be nicer to discuss how
> > those features could be brought upstream or mitigate our local patches
> > in other ways.
> > In the case of not finding room for a debate and your answer is a
> > straight "we don't want this feature upstream" this is never the less
> > a good reference to remember when touching those patches in future:
> > falls into "we tried, they didn't want it" and thus we'll keep carrying
> > them around, at least as long as there are platforms needing them.
> Well, it is more a "use initramfs or cmdline via bootloader or cmdline via DT"
> but you refuse to use *all* of these.

I'll happily use cmdline if it would be possible in a filesystem-type
agnostic way. The problem I see is that currently, when following that
suggesting, I'll end up with information about the filesystem-type in
either the bootloader or device-tree, which really shouldn't be. Hence
my suggestion I was intending to discuss here.

> I asked to discuss and explain your use case and patches on linux-mtd. You did.
> We explained you how to solve your issues without the need of any kernel hack.
> You refused.

I went through your suggestions and tried to follow them as closely as
possible given the use-case. What I ended up with is a completely new
and very different set of patches which is required to actually be able
to do so.

> You bring over and over the same arguments and we showed you every single time
> that your kernel hacks are not needed and everything can be solved perfectly fine
> using existing features. This is disappointing.

All suggestions include the problem named above (needing to be aware
of the rootfs-type in a place where I shouldn't). If I don't feel that
this is being understood, repeating and explainign it more deeply is a
quite natural reaction.

> Discussing a patch to death does not get it merged.

I'm also happy to come up with alternative implementations or accept
any suggestions which would actually resolve the issue.
 - the bootloader may be proprietary, so we cannot require users to touch it
   (I feel that this was understood, no need to discuss again)
 - run the exact same kernel + device-tree with different filesystems,
   eg. UBIFS and SQUASHFS. This is intended in the kernel, ie. one can
   specify a list of filesystems like rootfstype=squashfs,jffs2
   or rootfstype=squashfs,ext4 (which is what we do on NOR-flash or
   block-based devices)

> So it is not a thing of not finding room for a debate. We debated all aspects
> multiple times and provided solutions.

Have you actually looked into the patches rather than just replied
to the cover-letter?

Let's make a check-list:
 OK   attach UBI during boot
      -> use ubi.mtd=ubi in cmdline instead
 OK   probe-mount UBIFS
      -> patches merged upstream (MS_SILENT)
HACK  move volume name parser from UBIFS to ubi_open_volume_str()
      -> refused, no debate, no good alternative
HACK  introduce ubiblock_create_dev() passing back dev_t of the created
      ubiblock device
      -> patch refused, no debate, no good alternative
HACK  set ROOT_DEV for created ubiblock device
      -> not discussed here, but that's ok :)

If there was an easy solution which would not require either the
bootloader or device-tree to be aware of the filesystem type (which is
stored on the same volume on the same board and may vary depending
on use-case and during the boards life-cycle) I wouldn't bother you
with that at all. Including information on the filesystem-type inside
DTS is explicitely prohibited (I followed the debate) and doing it
inside the bootloader seems even more wrong to me.

To make it clear: I'd really like to use cmdline (which may or may
not be built into the DTS), I'm trying to follow that suggestion. The
only remaining problem I see it with that is that it'd need to be
possible to mount either squashfs or UBIFS using the same set of
parameters -- which is possible on all other devices we support which
either use NOR-flash or block storage for their root filesystems.

Now, ubi is already being treated as a special case in init/do_mounts.c
I fail to see why it would be bad to extend that so mounting non-UBIFS
and UBIFS volumes could work using the same cmdline root=... syntax.

I reckon the remaining difference is truely that you define that
set of requirements to be "complex" while I'd define it as "as simple
as it can possibly get on that hardware", hence our different
conclusion with regard to whether or not to use an initramfs for that



> Thanks,
> //richard
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