[libvirt] Re: [discuss] The new cgroup patches for libvirt

Balbir Singh balbir at linux.vnet.ibm.com
Fri Oct 3 18:43:38 UTC 2008

On Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 11:43 PM, Daniel P. Berrange <berrange at redhat.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Oct 03, 2008 at 09:31:52PM +0530, Balbir Singh wrote:
>> I understand that in the past there has been a perception that libcgroups might
>> not yet be ready, because we did not have ABI stability built into the library
>> and the header file had old comments about things changing. I would urge the
>> group to look at the current implementation of libcgroups (look at v0.32) and
>> help us
>> 1. Fix any issues you see or point them to us
>> 2. Add new API or request for new API that can help us integrate better with libvirt
> To expand on what I said in my other mail about providing value-add over
> the representation exposed by the kernel, here's some thoughts on the API
> exposed.
> Consider the following high level use case of libvirt
>  - A set of groups, in a 3 level hierarchy <APPNAME>/<DRIVER>/<DOMAIN>
>  - Control the ACL for block/char devices
>  - Control memory limits
> This translates into an underling implementation, that I need to create 3
> levels of cgroups in the filesystem, attach my PIDs at the 3rd level
> use the memory and device controllers and attach PIDs at the 3rd, and
> set values for attributes exposed by the controllers. Notice I'm not
> actually setting any config parms at the 1st & 2nd levels, but they
> do need to still exist to ensure namespace uniqueness amongst different
> applications using cgroups.
> The current cgroups API provides APIs that directly map to individual
> actions wrt the kernel filesystem exposed. So as an application developer
> I have to explicitly create the 3 levels of hierarchy, tell it I want
> to use memory & device controllers, format config values into the syntax
> required for each attribute, and remeber the attribute names.
>     // Create the hierachy <APPNAME>/<DRIVER>/<DOMAIN>
>     c1 = cgroup_new_cgroup("libvirt")
>     c2 = cgroup_new_cgroup_parent(c1, "lxc")
>     c3 = cgroup_new_cgroup_parent(c2, domain.name)
>     // Setup the controllers I want to use
>     cgroup_add_controler(c3, "devices")
>     cgroup_add_controller(c3, "memory")
>     // Add my domain's PID to the cgroup
>     cgroup_attach_task(c3, domain.pid)
>     // Set the device ACL limits
>     cgroup_set_value_string(c2, "devices.deny", "a");
>     char buf[1024];
>     sprintf(buf, "%c %d:%d", 'c', 1, 3);
>     cgroup_set_value_stirng(c2, "devices.allow", buf);
>     // Set memory limit
>     cgroup_set_value_uint64(c2, "memory.limit_in_bytes", domain.memory * 1024);
> This really isn't providing any semantically useful abstraction over
> the direct filesytem manipulation. Just a bunch of wrappers for mkdir(),
> mount() and read()/write() calls. My application still has to know far
> too much information about the details of cgroups as exposed by the
> kernel.

True, it definitely does and the way I look at APIs is that they are
layers. We've built the first layer that abstracts permissions, paths
and strings into a set of useful API. The second layer does things
that you say, the question then is why don't we have it yet?

Let me try and answer that question

1. We've been trying to build configuration, classification and the
low level plumbing
2. We've been planning to build the exact same thing that you say, we
call that the pluggable architecture, where controller plug in their
logic and provide the abstractions you need, but not gotten there yet.

When you announced cgroup support in libvirt, it was definitely going
to be a user and we hoped that you would come to us with your exact
requirements that you've mentioned now (believe me, your feedback is
very useful). The question then to ask is, is it cheaper for you to
build these abstractions into libvirt or either helped us or asked us
to do so, we would have gladly obliged. You might say that the onus is
on the maintainers to do the right thing without feedback, but I would
beg to differ.

What you've asked for, I consider as a layer on top of the API we have
now and should be easy to build.

> I do not care that there is a concept of  'controllers' at all, I just
> want to set device ACLs and memory limits. I do not care what the attributes
> in the filesystem are called, again I just want to set device ACLs and memory
> limits.  I do not care what the data format for them must be for device/memory
> settings. Memory settings could be stored in base-2, base-10 or base-16 I
> should not have to know this information.
> With this style of API, the library provide no real value-add or  compelling
> reason to use it.
> What might a more useful API look like? At least from my point of view,
> I'd like to be able to say:
>      // Tell it I want $PID placed in <APPNAME>/<DRIVER>/<DOMAIN>
>      char *path[] = { "libvirt", "lxc", domain.name};
>      cg = cgroup_new_path(path, domain.pid)
>      // I want to deny all devices
>      cgroup_deny_all_devices(cg);
>      // Allow /dev/null - either by node/major/minor
>      cgroup_allow_device_node(cg, 'c', 1, 3);
>      // Or more conviently just give it a node to copy info from
>      cgroup_allow_device_node(cg, "/dev/null")
>      // Set memory in KB
>      cgroup_set_memory_limit_kb(cg, domain.memory)
> Notice how with such a style of API, I don't need to know anything about
> the low level implementation details - I'm working entirely in terms of
> semantically meaningful concepts.

Yes, I agree this is definitely more usable and friendlier. These are
not hard to do implement today, in fact implementing them would
require a few calls to existing API and can be built as controller
specific layers (I call them as plugins for each controller).

> Now, comes the hard bit - you have to figure out what semantic concepts
> you want to expose to applications. The example here would be suitable
> for libvirt, but not neccessarily for other applications. Picking the
> right APIs is very much much harder than  just exposing the kernel
> capabilities directly as libcgroup.h does now, but the trade off is
> that the resulting API would be much more useful and interesting to
> app developers.

I like what you've proposed very much and I am going to start building
these abstractions and make them available in libcgroup. At some
point, I hope you will find them useful enough so as to drop your
abstractions (which I would hope you had directly built into libcgroup
and used, so that more people would have benefited from it) and use


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