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From: Peter Zijlstra <>
To: Peter Oberparleiter <>
Subject: Re: [PATCH] gcov,x86: Mark GCOV broken for x86
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2021 13:13:57 +0200	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <YMx/> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

On Mon, Jun 14, 2021 at 04:43:27PM +0200, Peter Oberparleiter wrote:
> On 14.06.2021 12:17, Peter Zijlstra wrote:
> > As recently discovered, there is no function attribute to disable the
> > -fprofile-generate instrumentation. As such, GCOV is fundamentally
> > incompatible with architectures that rely on 'noinstr' for correctness.
> Does this problem affect all code or just those pieces that use
> 'noinstr'? Doing a quick grep over kernel source shows me ~40 source
> files containing 'noinstr' vs. ~30000 that don't.

I count 82, but yeah.

> It seems to me like an extreme measure to disable gcov-based profiling
> for all files on an architecture when only a small fraction of code
> would actually be affected.
> I'll gladly admit that I haven't followed the full discussion that lead
> to your patch, so maybe some of the following suggestions may already
> have been proposed.
> What about marking source files that contain 'noinstr' using the
>   GCOV_PROFILE_<filename.o> := n
> directive that gcov-kernel profiling provides to exclude those files
> from being compiled with the corresponding profiling flags? If that's
> too much effort there's also a directive for excluding all files in a
> directory.

It's just not scalable and super fragile. Forget one and you have a
potentially dead kernel. At the same time, we'll end up excluding
significant chunks of the core kernel that way, also limit the use of

> If there was a way to automatically identify 'noinstr'-afflicted source
> files (e.g. by grepping the pre-processed source files), one could also
> automate this process by adjusting the kbuild-code that adds profiling
> flags to automatically exclude such files.

Or we just wait for the compilers to implement the required function
attribute and then make the whole thing depend on having a recent enough
compiler, which is what I'm hoping for.

Developers should use recent compilers anyway...

> > Until such time as that compilers have added a function attribute to
> > disable this instrumentation, mark GCOV as broken.
> > 
> > Signed-off-by: Peter Zijlstra (Intel) <>
> > ---
> >  arch/x86/Kconfig    | 2 +-
> >  kernel/gcov/Kconfig | 4 ++++
> >  2 files changed, 5 insertions(+), 1 deletion(-)
> > 
> > diff --git a/arch/x86/Kconfig b/arch/x86/Kconfig
> > index 86dae426798b..c0f8c9d4c31a 100644
> > --- a/arch/x86/Kconfig
> > +++ b/arch/x86/Kconfig
> > @@ -75,7 +75,7 @@ config X86
> Assuming none of the above mentioned alternatives are viable, removing
> ARCH_HAS_GCOV_PROFILE_ALL should be enough for your purpose. This way
> you are already excluding all source files from automatic profiling on x86.

But you can still select one manually, which is not safe.

> Users that are absolutely sure that their code can work with
> gcov-profiling can manually edit their sub-Makefiles to list those files
> that should be instrumented. In my opinion your introduction of
> ARCH_HAS_GCOV_BROKEN unnecessarily takes away this capability.

Are there any users? Who uses this GCOV stuff, and should we migrate
them to KCOV?

The thing is, I got dead kernel reports from KCOV users really quickly
after all this landed, I've never even heard of a GCOV user, let alone
had a problem report from one.

Given all this seems mostly unused, I suppose we can wait for the
compilers to implement the attribute and simply ignore any and all
problems stemming from the use of GCOV -- telling them to go use KCOV

At the same time; since there are no users (that I know of), I don't see
the problem with killing the entire thing for x86 either.

  reply	other threads:[~2021-06-18 11:14 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 13+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2021-06-14 10:17 Peter Zijlstra
2021-06-14 10:31 ` Marco Elver
2021-06-14 14:43 ` Peter Oberparleiter
2021-06-18 11:13   ` Peter Zijlstra [this message]
2021-06-21 13:53     ` Peter Oberparleiter
2021-06-14 16:05 ` Nick Desaulniers
2021-06-14 16:20   ` Peter Zijlstra
2021-06-14 18:05     ` Nick Desaulniers
2021-06-14 18:20       ` Borislav Petkov
2021-06-14 19:03         ` Nick Desaulniers
2021-06-14 19:28           ` Borislav Petkov
2021-06-14 18:31       ` Fangrui Song
2021-06-14 19:07         ` Peter Zijlstra

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