In a runtime that is purely based on capability-based security, there is
a strong emphasis on how programs start their execution. We need to make
sure that we execute an new program with an exact set of file
descriptors, ensuring that credentials are not leaked into the process
Providing the right file descriptors is just half the problem. There
also needs to be a framework in place that gives meaning to these file
descriptors. How does a CloudABI mail server know which of the file
descriptors corresponds to the socket that receives incoming emails?
Furthermore, how will this mail server acquire its configuration
parameters, as it cannot open a configuration file from a global path on
CloudABI solves this problem by replacing traditional string command
line arguments by tree-like data structure consisting of scalars,
sequences and mappings (similar to YAML/JSON). In this structure, file
descriptors are treated as a first-class citizen. When calling exec(),
file descriptors are passed on to the new executable if and only if they
are referenced from this tree structure. See the cloudabi-run(1) man
page for more details and examples (sysutils/cloudabi-utils).
Fortunately, the kernel does not need to care about this tree structure
at all. The C library is responsible for serializing and deserializing,
but also for extracting the list of referenced file descriptors. The
system call only receives a copy of the serialized data and a layout of
what the new file descriptor table should look like:
int proc_exec(int execfd, const void *data, size_t datalen, const int *fds, size_t fdslen);
This change introduces a set of fd*_remapped() functions:
- fdcopy_remapped() pulls a copy of a file descriptor table, remapping all of the file descriptors according to the provided mapping table.
- fdinstall_remapped() replaces the file descriptor table of the process by the copy created by fdcopy_remapped().
- fdescfree_remapped() frees the table in case we aborted before fdinstall_remapped().
We then add a function exec_copyin_data_fds() that builds on top these
functions. It copies in the data and constructs a new remapped file
descriptor. This is used by cloudabi_sys_proc_exec().