> Date: Monday 09 June 2008
> From: Andrew Dyer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Brian Foster wrote:
>> The MIPS 4KSd core (at least) implements an XI (eXecute Inhibit)
>> page protection bit. XI is similar to the NX (No Execute) bit
>> in the more recent AMD/Intel x86 families: Attempts to I-fetch
>> from a page with XI set cause an exception.
> AFAIK this is the only part with this extension, so I doubt that
> much has been done with it.
> I know that OpenBSD has done a bunch of work with x86 implementing
> a similar protection scheme, you might do some searching on their
> lists to see if they have any information on GCC mods required.
As far as I am aware, XI is part of the SMARTMIPS extension,
and I _think_ SMARTMIPS is only implemented by the 4KS cores?
Whilst other companies have licensed that core from MIPS, to
the best of my knowledge the SoC I'm concerned with (Innova
Card's USIP Pro) is the only one running Linux. So I suspect
you're quite correct: Nothing's been done.
I've been in contact with the PaX people, and they inform me
"the experimental NX tweaks [ for MIPS ] didn't get anywhere
due to lack of time/interest of the guy who started it."
The "market segment" USIP is aimed at is sufficiently touchy
about security I currently believe it's plausible (assuming
it's technologically possible) to simply forbid (not support)
concurrently executable-and-writable memory. As such, certain
programs won't work. Tough. There's no call to support the
(broken) JVM's et al. that "require" it, and I'm hoping that
nested C/C++ functions are rare (ideally non-existent in the
code which normally runs on USIP). It'd be nice if such code
either fails to compile and/or fails to link/load, but that's
some (highly useful) porcelain.
Broadly, what I'm trying to say is I don't want to touch gcc
(and/or binutils) and am unconvinced I have to. But I'm very
much open to correction here!
The x86 (including amd64) and, AFAIK, SuperH (sh) Linux kernels
now support NX or equivalent; indeed, a test on my 2.6.22(-ish)
amd64 workstation (Kubuntu 7.10) has a non-executable stack.
As such, those could be a model worth studying/following, but
I understand they have support for specially-marked binaries to
have executable stacks (i.e., binutils/gcc mods, which I want to
avoid). It's probably worth having a look at OpenBSD (thanks
for the suggestion!).
Advice, suggestions, pointers, comments, corrections are very
"How many surrealists does it take to | Brian Foster
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