Bootstrapping the Hurd

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Due to popular demand this weeks report contains another awesome ascii screenshot. I added some lines to /etc/hurd/runsystem.sysv to inspect the environment very early in the boot process:

start ext2fs: Hurd server bootstrap: ext2fs[device:hd0s1] exec init proc auth
+ echo my pid is 1
my pid is 1
+ ps Ax
+ head
-            0  ? R<mo  0:00.01 /hurd/proc
root         1  - Sslow 0:00.02 /bin/sh /etc/hurd/runsystem
-            2  - Sp    0:00.00 /hurd/init root=device:hd0s1 console=com0
-            3  ? D<p   0:00.01 root=device:hd0s1 console=com0
-            4  - S<o   0:00.18 ext2fs --readonly --multiboot-command-line=root
-            5  - S<o   0:00.02 /hurd/exec
-            6  - S<o   0:00.00 /hurd/auth
root         7  - S<o   0:00.04 /hurd/term /dev/console device console
root         8  - S<o   0:00.00 /hurd/pflocal
+ pstree -p
      |         `-ext2fs(4)-+-exec(5)
      |                     |-pflocal(8)
      |                     |-procfs(12)
      |                     `-term(7)

Those who are familiar with the Hurd might note that /etc/hurd/runsystem.sysv runs as PID 1. At the end of this script /sbin/init is exec(2)uted, so sysvinit gets run as PID 1. This is the result of a fairly small patch series. It still took me like two days to come up with it since bootstrapping a Hurd system (or any microkernel OS, or like bootstrapping in general) is complicated.

If you look at the screenshot above you will note the /hurd/pflocal process running with PID 8. This is the server providing pipe(2)s and Unix sockets. Before that server is started, one cannot use pipes to connect two processes with pipes like I did with ps and head (I actually lied a little here, because the way Debian/Hurd is set up, the pflocal server is started on demand courtesy of a Hurd feature called "passive translators", very similar to what the cool kids call "socket activation" today).

Process 0 is the /hurd/proc server. It maps Mach tasks to the concept of Unix processes. Before that server is started, the notion of a process does not even exist. Pid 4 is the root filesystem. Without that, no other server can be read from the disk. But if the root filesystem is to be started first, it cannot be registered as a Unix process at the proc server, because that has not been started yet.

So the first few processes are started in a weird way and order, and since they need to talk to each other, they need to register at each other. No Unix concepts exist yet, only Mach concepts like tasks and messages can be used. The boot sequence is roughly this (the numbers in parenthesis are the PIDs):

  1. Grub loads GNU Mach(3), the statically linked root filesystem translator (4) and the /hurd/exec (5) server (the exec server loads executables into Mach tasks, implementing most parts of execve(2)).
  2. The rootfs translator is started.
  3. The rootfs initiates the Hurd server bootstrap by starting /hurd/exec and /hurd/init (2).
  4. /hurd/init starts /hurd/proc (0) and /hurd/auth (6).
  5. The translators perform several rendezvouses to introduce themselves to each other.
  6. The proc servers state with respect to the already running processes is fixed.
  7. /hurd/init starts /etc/hurd/runsystem (1) which starts the pager (that pages out memory to disk) and later execs /sbin/init.
  8. From this point on the initialization of Debian/Hurd is no different from Debian/Linux.

Besides the pid one issue I spent my time on:

Next week I hope to fully address the killall5 issue and to clean up, polish and submit my patch series for sysvinit. I will then revise my mtab translator prototype which is currently in its third iteration. As always, if there is time left, I will look at the network related issues.

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