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README

Plugsched: live update Linux kernel scheduler

Plugsched is a SDK that enables live updating the Linux kernel scheduler. It can dynamically replace the scheduler subsystem without rebooting the system or applications, with milliseconds downtime. Plugsched can help developers to dynamically add, delete and modify kernel scheduling features in the production environment, which allows customizing the scheduler for different specific scenarios. The live-update capability also enables rollback.

Motivation

  • Different policies fit for different scenarios: In the scenario of cloud-computing, optimizing scheduling policies is complex, and an one-fit-all strategy does not exist. So, it is necessary to allow users to customize the scheduler for different scenarios.
  • Scheduler evolved slowly : Linux kernel has been evolved and iterated for many years, and has a heavy code base. Scheduler is one of the core subsystems of the kernel and its structure is complex and tightly coupled with other OS subsystems, which makes the development and debugging even harder. Linux rarely merges new scheduling classes, and would be especially unlikely to accept a scenario-specific or non-generic scheduler. Plugsched can decouple the scheduler from the kernel, and developers can only focus on the iterative development of the scheduler.
  • Updating kernel is hard: The scheduler is built into the kernel, so applying changes to the scheduler requires updating the kernel. The kernel release cycle is usually several months, which makes the changes not able to be deployed quickly. Furthermore, updating kernel is even more expensive in the cluster, which involves application migration and machine downtime.
  • Unable to update a subsystem: kpatch and livepatch are live update techniques of function granularity, which have weak expressive ability and cannot implement complex code changes. For eBPF, it doesn't support the scheduler well yet, and even if it were, it would only allow small modifications to the scheduling policies.

How it works

The scheduler subsystem is built into the kernel, not an independent module . And it's highly coupled to other parts of the kernel. Plugsched takes advantage of the idea of modularization: it provides a boundary analyzer that determines the boundary of the scheduler subsystem and extracts the scheduler from the kernel code into a separate directory. Developers can modify the extracted scheduler code and compile it into a new scheduler module and dynamically replace the old scheduler in the running system.

For functions, the scheduler module exports some interface functions. By replacing these functions in the kernel, the kernel can bypass the original execution logic and enter the new scheduler module, thereby completing the function update. Functions compiled in the scheduler module are either interface functions, or insiders. Other functions are all called outsiders.

For the data, plugsched divides data into private data and shared data. Private data is allocated memory independently within the module, while shared data shares memory between the module and kernel. For global variables, they can be converted to private data by redefinition or to shared data by declaration. By default, static global variables are marked as private data and non-static global variables are marked as shared data. But to make the system work better, we manually adjusted the classification of some global variables in the boundary configuration file.

Data state synchronization is a core problem when updating the module. Data is divided into critical data and non-critical data according to whether the data state needs to be rebuilt. Critical data includes rq, cfs_rq, rt_rq, dl_rq, cfs_bandwidth, sched_class, sysfs, debugfs, sched_features, timer, and others are non-critical data, such as sched_domain_topology, task_group_cache, sysctls of scheduler, tracepoint and cpumask related to scheduler, and so on. Plugsched uses sched-rebuild technology to rebuild the critical data state of the scheduler. For non-critical data, private data does not require synchronization, and shared data is inherited automatically, which without additional processing. The general data rebuild technology solves the state synchronization problem ingeniously.

critical data non-critical data
private rebuild re-init
shared rebuild inherits

It is important to note that the size of structures and the semantics of their members cannot be modified arbitrarily. If new members need to be added, it is recommended to use reserved fields that are predefined in the structures.

Boundary Extraction

The scheduler itself is not a module, so it is necessary to determine the boundary of the scheduler for modularization. The boundary analyzer extracts the scheduler code from the kernel source code according to the boundary configuration information. The configuration mainly includes source code files, the interface functions, etc. Finally, the code within the boundary is extracted into a separate directory. The process is mainly divided into the following steps.

  • Gather Information Compile the Linux kernel and use gcc-python-plugin to collect information related to boundary analysis, such as symbol names, location information, symbol attributes, and function call graph, etc.

  • Boundary Analysis Analyze the gathered information, calculate the code and data boundaries of the scheduler according to the boundary configuration, and determine which functions and data are within the scheduler boundary.

  • Code Extraction Use gcc-python-plugin again to extract the code within the boundary into the kernel/sched/mod directory as the code base for the new scheduler module.

Develop the scheduler

After the extraction, the scheduler's code is put in a separate directory. Developers can modify the code and customize the scheduler according to different scenarios. Please see Limitations for precautions during development.

Compile and install the scheduler

After the development, the scheduler with loading/unloading and other related code will be compiled into a kernel module, then be packaged in RPM. After installation, the original scheduler built in the kernel will be replaced. The installation will go through the following key steps.

  • Symbol Relocation: relocate the undefined symbols in scheduler module.
  • Stack Safety Check: Like kpatch, stack inspection must be performed before function redirection, otherwise the system may crash. Plugsched optimizes stack inspection in parallel, which improves efficiency and reduces downtime.
  • Redirections: Dynamically replace interface functions in kernel with corresponding functions in module.
  • Scheduler State Rebuild: Synchronize the state between the new and old scheduler automatically, which greatly simplifies the maintenance of data state consistency.

architecture

Use Cases

  1. Quickly develop, verify and release new features, and merge them into the kernel mainline after being stable.
  2. Customize and optimize for specific business scenarios, publish and maintain non-generic scheduler features using RPM packages.
  3. Unified management of scheduler hotfixes to avoid conflicts caused by multiple hotfixes.

Quick Start

Plugsched currently supports Anolis OS 8.6 ANCK by default, and other OS need to adjust the boundary configurations. In order to reduce the complexity of building a running environment, we provide container images and Dockerfiles, and developers do not need to build a development environment by themselves. For convenience, we purchased an Alibaba Cloud ECS (64CPU + 128GB) and installed the Anolis OS 8.6 ANCK. We will live update the kernel scheduler.

  1. Log into the cloud server, and install some necessary basic software packages.
# yum install anolis-repos -y
# yum install yum-utils podman kernel-debuginfo-$(uname -r) kernel-devel-$(uname -r) --enablerepo=Plus-debuginfo --enablerepo=Plus -y
  1. Create a temporary working directory and download the source code of the kernel.
# mkdir /tmp/work && cd /tmp/work
# yumdownloader --source kernel-$(uname -r) --enablerepo=Plus
  1. Startup the container, and spawn a shell.
# podman run -itd --name=plugsched -v /tmp/work:/tmp/work -v /usr/src/kernels:/usr/src/kernels -v /usr/lib/debug/lib/modules:/usr/lib/debug/lib/modules plugsched-registry.cn-hangzhou.cr.aliyuncs.com/plugsched/plugsched-sdk
# podman exec -it plugsched bash
# cd /tmp/work
  1. Extract kernel source code.
# uname_r=$(uname -r)
# plugsched-cli extract_src kernel-${uname_r%.*}.src.rpm ./kernel
  1. Boundary analysis and extraction.
# plugsched-cli init $(uname -r) ./kernel ./scheduler
  1. The extracted scheduler code is in ./scheduler/kernel/sched/mod. Add a new sched_feature and package it into a rpm.
diff --git a/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/core.c b/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/core.c
index 9f16b72..21262fd 100644
--- a/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/core.c
+++ b/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/core.c
@@ -3234,6 +3234,9 @@ static void __sched notrace __schedule(bool preempt)
 	struct rq *rq;
 	int cpu;
 
+	if (sched_feat(PLUGSCHED_TEST))
+		printk_once("I am the new scheduler: __schedule\n");
+
 	cpu = smp_processor_id();
 	rq = cpu_rq(cpu);
 	prev = rq->curr;
diff --git a/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/features.h b/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/features.h
index 4c40fac..8d1eafd 100644
--- a/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/features.h
+++ b/scheduler/kernel/sched/mod/features.h
@@ -1,4 +1,6 @@
 /* SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0 */
+SCHED_FEAT(PLUGSCHED_TEST, false)
+
 /*
  * Only give sleepers 50% of their service deficit. This allows
  * them to run sooner, but does not allow tons of sleepers to
# plugsched-cli build /tmp/work/scheduler
  1. Copy the scheduler rpm to the host, exit the container, and view the current sched_features.
# uname_r=$(uname -r)
# cp /tmp/work/scheduler/working/rpmbuild/RPMS/x86_64/scheduler-xxx-${uname_r%.*}.yyy.x86_64.rpm /tmp/work/scheduler-xxx.rpm
# exit
exit
# cat /sys/kernel/debug/sched_features
GENTLE_FAIR_SLEEPERS START_DEBIT NO_NEXT_BUDDY LAST_BUDDY CACHE_HOT_BUDDY WAKEUP_PREEMPTION NO_HRTICK NO_DOUBLE_TICK NONTASK_CAPACITY TTWU_QUEUE NO_SIS_AVG_CPU SIS_PROP NO_WARN_DOUBLE_CLOCK RT_PUSH_IPI RT_RUNTIME_SHARE NO_LB_MIN ATTACH_AGE_LOAD WA_IDLE WA_WEIGHT WA_BIAS NO_WA_STATIC_WEIGHT UTIL_EST ID_IDLE_AVG ID_RESCUE_EXPELLEE NO_ID_EXPELLEE_NEVER_HOT NO_ID_LOOSE_EXPEL ID_LAST_HIGHCLASS_STAY
  1. Install the scheduler rpm and then the new feature is added but closed.
# rpm -ivh /tmp/work/scheduler-xxx.rpm
# lsmod | grep scheduler
scheduler             503808  1
# dmesg | tail -n 10
[ 2186.213916] cni-podman0: port 1(vethfe1a04fa) entered forwarding state
[ 6092.916180] Hi, scheduler mod is installing!
[ 6092.923037] scheduler: total initialization time is        6855921 ns
[ 6092.923038] scheduler module is loading
[ 6092.924136] scheduler load: current cpu number is               64
[ 6092.924137] scheduler load: current thread number is           667
[ 6092.924138] scheduler load: stop machine time is            249471 ns
[ 6092.924138] scheduler load: stop handler time is            160616 ns
[ 6092.924138] scheduler load: stack check time is              85916 ns
[ 6092.924139] scheduler load: all the time is                1097321 ns
# cat /sys/kernel/debug/sched_features
NO_PLUGSCHED_TEST GENTLE_FAIR_SLEEPERS START_DEBIT NO_NEXT_BUDDY LAST_BUDDY CACHE_HOT_BUDDY WAKEUP_PREEMPTION NO_HRTICK NO_DOUBLE_TICK NONTASK_CAPACITY TTWU_QUEUE NO_SIS_AVG_CPU SIS_PROP NO_WARN_DOUBLE_CLOCK RT_PUSH_IPI RT_RUNTIME_SHARE NO_LB_MIN ATTACH_AGE_LOAD WA_IDLE WA_WEIGHT WA_BIAS NO_WA_STATIC_WEIGHT UTIL_EST ID_IDLE_AVG ID_RESCUE_EXPELLEE NO_ID_EXPELLEE_NEVER_HOT NO_ID_LOOSE_EXPEL ID_LAST_HIGHCLASS_STAY
  1. Open the new feature and we can see "I am the new scheduler: __schedule" in dmesg.
# echo PLUGSCHED_TEST > /sys/kernel/debug/sched_features
# dmesg | tail -n 5
[ 6092.924138] scheduler load: stop machine time is            249471 ns
[ 6092.924138] scheduler load: stop handler time is            160616 ns
[ 6092.924138] scheduler load: stack check time is              85916 ns
[ 6092.924139] scheduler load: all the time is                1097321 ns
[ 6512.539300] I am the new scheduler: __schedule
  1. Remove the scheduler rpm and then the new feature will be removed.
# rpm -e scheduler-xxx
# dmesg | tail -n 8
[ 6717.794923] scheduler module is unloading
[ 6717.809110] scheduler unload: current cpu number is               64
[ 6717.809111] scheduler unload: current thread number is           670
[ 6717.809112] scheduler unload: stop machine time is            321757 ns
[ 6717.809112] scheduler unload: stop handler time is            142844 ns
[ 6717.809113] scheduler unload: stack check time is              74938 ns
[ 6717.809113] scheduler unload: all the time is               14185493 ns
[ 6717.810189] Bye, scheduler mod has be removed!
#
# cat /sys/kernel/debug/sched_features
GENTLE_FAIR_SLEEPERS START_DEBIT NO_NEXT_BUDDY LAST_BUDDY CACHE_HOT_BUDDY WAKEUP_PREEMPTION NO_HRTICK NO_DOUBLE_TICK NONTASK_CAPACITY TTWU_QUEUE NO_SIS_AVG_CPU SIS_PROP NO_WARN_DOUBLE_CLOCK RT_PUSH_IPI RT_RUNTIME_SHARE NO_LB_MIN ATTACH_AGE_LOAD WA_IDLE WA_WEIGHT WA_BIAS NO_WA_STATIC_WEIGHT UTIL_EST ID_IDLE_AVG ID_RESCUE_EXPELLEE NO_ID_EXPELLEE_NEVER_HOT NO_ID_LOOSE_EXPEL ID_LAST_HIGHCLASS_STAY

Note: Cannot unload the scheduler module directly using the "rmmod" command! You should use the "rpm or yum" standard command to remove the scheduler package.

FAQ

Q: Under the default boundary configuration, what does the scheduler contain after boundary extraction?

Contains the following:

  • autogroup
  • cpuacct
  • cputime
  • sched debug
  • sched stats
  • cfs rt deadline idle stop sched class
  • sched domain topology
  • sched tick
  • scheduler core

Q: Which functions can I modify?

After boundary extraction, all functions defined in the files in the kernel/sched/mod directory can be modified. For example, in the example of Quick Start, 1K+ functions of the scheduler can be modified. However, there are some precautions, please refer to Limitations.

Q: Can I modify the scheduler boundary?

Yes. The scheduler boundary can be modified by editing boundary configuration, such as modifying the source code file, interface function, etc. Please refer to here. Note that if the scheduler boundary is adjusted, strictly testing is required before installing the scheduler into production environment.

Q: What kernel versions does plugsched support?

Theoretically, plugsched is decoupled from the kernel version. The kernel versions we have tested are 3.10 and 4.19. Other versions need to be adapted and tested by developers.

Q: Can I modify functions defined in header files?

Yes. Boundary analyzer also works for header files. Functions in kernel/sched/mod/*.h can be modified, except those follows with a comment "DON'T MODIFY INLINE EXTERNAL FUNCTION".

Q: Can structures be modified?

Cannot modify the size of structures and the semantics of their members arbitrarily. The reserved fields can be modified if they are predefined in the structures.

Q: Will there be a performance regression when the kernel scheduler is replaced?

The overhead incurred by plugsched can be ignored, and the performance regression is mainly depend on the code modified by developers. After the benchmark test, the new scheduler has no performance impact if no modification was applied.

Q: Is there any downtime when loading scheduler modules? how many?

It depends on the current system load and the number of threads. In our tests, we have 10k+ processes running on a 104 logical CPU machine. And the downtime is less than 10ms.

Q: What's the difference between plugsched and kpatch? Do we achieve the same goal by optimizing kpatch?

kpatch is live updating for function granularity, while plugsched for subsystem-wide. Some capabilities cannot be achieved through kpatch optimization. For example, kpatch can not modify the __schedule function, and can not modify thousands of functions at the same time.

Q: Does plugsched conflict with the hotfix of Kpatch?

Yes. The overlapped part between plugsched and kpatch will be overwritten by plugsched. However, we have designed conflict detecting mechanisms that can be used in the production environment.

Q: Can I modify a function outside the scheduler boundary?

Yes. We provide the sidecar mechanism to modify functions outside the boundary. For example, if we want to modify both the scheduler and cpuacct , we can use the sidecar to modify cpuacct.

Supported Architectures

  • x86-64
  • aarch64

Limitations

  • Cannot modify the init functions because they have been released after rebooting. If you need to, please do it in module initialization.
  • The interface function signature cannot be modified. And the interface function can not be deleted, but you can modify it to make it an empty function.
  • Can not modify the functions with "DON'T MODIFY INLINE EXTERNAL FUNCTION" comment;
  • We don't recommend modifying structures and semantics of their members at well. If you really need to, please refer to the working/boundary_doc.yaml documentation.
  • After the scheduler module is loaded, you cannot directly hook a kernel function within the scheduler boundary, such as perf or ftrace tools. If you need to, please specify the scheduler.ko module in the command.

License

plugsched is a linux kernel hotpluggable scheduler SDK developed by Alibaba and licensed under the GPLv2+ License or BSD-3-Clause License. This product contains various third-party components under other open source licenses. See the NOTICE file for more information.

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plugsched 是 Linux 内核调度器子系统热升级的 SDK,它可以实现在不重启系统、应用的情况下动态替换调度器子系统,毫秒级 downtime 。plugsched 可以对生产环境中的内核调度特性动态的进行增、删、改,以满足不同场景或应用的需求,且支持回滚。 expand collapse
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