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Init (User space boot) reference for Chaos Calmer: procd

Analysis of how the user space part of the boot sequence is implemented in OpenWrt, Chaos Calmer release.

Procd replaces init

On a fully booted Chaos Calmer system, pid 1 is /sbin/procd:

root@openwrt:~# ps
    1 root      1440 S    /sbin/procd
At boot, Linux kernel starts /sbin/init as the first user process. In Chaos Calmer, /sbin/init does the preinit/failsafe steps, those that depend only on the read-only partition in flashed image, then execs (that is: is replaced by) /sbin/procd to continue boot as specified by the configuration in writable flash partition. Procd started as pid 1 assumes several roles: service manager, hotplug events handler; this as of February 2016, when this research was done. Procd techref wiki page at this point in time is a design document and work in progress, if you are reading here and know/understand procd's semantics and API, please update that page.

Procd sources:;a=tree;hb=0da5bf2ff222d1a499172a6e09507388676b5a08
at the commit used to build the procd package in Chaos Calmer release:

/sbin/init source:;a=blob;f=initd/init.c;hb=0da5bf2ff222d1a499172a6e09507388676b5a08#l71

Life and death of a Chaos Calmer system

This is the source code path followed in logical order of execution by the processor in user space while booting Chaos Calmer.

:!: All links to source repositories should show the code at the commit used in Chaos Calmer release.
:!: Pathnames evaluated at preinit time when / is read only have "(/rom)" prepended, to signify the path where the file is found on a fully booted system.

  1. main(int argc, char **argv) in /sbin/init, line 71
    User space life begins here. OpenWrt calls this phase "preinit".
    1. early() (definition)
      Mount filesystems: /proc, /sys, /sys/fs/cgroup, /dev (a tmpfs), /dev/pts
      Populate /dev with entries from /sys/dev/{char;block}
      Open /dev/console as STDIN/STDOUT/STDERR
      Make directories /tmp (optionally on zram), /tmp/run, tmp/lock, /tmp/state

      This accounts for most of the filesystem layout, observed that /etc/fstab is a broken symlink, line 161, with the following additions:
      - procd_coldplug() invoked at hotplug setup time will recreate /dev from scratch.
      - /etc/rc.d/S10boot will invoke mount_root to setup a writable filesystem based on extroot or jffs2 overlay or a tmpfs backed snapshot capable overlay, add some directories and files, and mount debugfs.
    2. cmdline() (definition)
      Check kernel cmdline for boot parameter "init_debug={1,2,3,4}".
    3. Fork /sbin/kmodloader (/rom)/etc/modules-boot.d/ kmodloader source
      Wait up to 120 seconds for /sbin/kmodloader to probe the kernel modules declared in (/rom)/etc/modules-boot.d/
      At this point in the boot sequence, '/etc/modules-boot.d' is the one from the rom image (/rom/etc/… when boot is done). The overlay filesystem is mounted later.

      kmodloader is a multicall binary, invoked as
      which reads files in (/rom)/etc/modules-boot.d/, looking for lines starting with the name of a module to load, optionally followed by a space and module parameters. There appear to be special treatment for files with names beginning with a number: the modules they list are immediately loaded, then modules from files with name beginning with an ascii char greater than "9" are loaded all together in a final load_modprobe call.
    4. uloop_init() line 116 (definition)
      Documentation of libubox/uloop.h says:
      Uloop is a loop runner for i/o. Gets in charge of polling the different file descriptors you have added to it, gets in charge of running timers, and helps you manage child processes. Supports epoll and kqueue as event running backends.
      uloop.c source in libubox says uloop's process management duty is assigned by a call to
      int uloop_process_add(struct uloop_process *p)
      p->pid is the process id of a child process to monitor and p->cb a pointer to a callback function.
      When the managed child process will exit, uloop_run, running in parent context to receive SIGCHLD signal, will trigger execution of the callback.
      1. Forks a "plugd instance", line 94
        /sbin/procd -h (/rom)/etc/hotplug-preinit.json
        to listen to kernel uevents for any required firmware or for notification of button pressed, handled by (/rom)/etc/rc.button/failsafe
        as the request to enter failsafe mode. A flag file /tmp/failsafe_button containing the value of ${BUTTON} is created if failsafe has been requested.
      2. Forks, at lines 106-111,
        PREINIT=1 /bin/sh (/rom)/etc/preinit
        a shell to execute (/rom)/etc/preinit with PREINIT=1 in its environment. Submits the child process to uloop management with the callback
        that will exec procd to replace init as pid 1 at completion of (/rom)/etc/preinit.
        1. /etc/preinit
          A shell script, fully documented here preinit_operation. In short, parse files in (/rom)/lib/preinit to build 5 lists of hooks and an environment, then run the hooks from some of the lists depending on the state of the environment.
          One of the steps in a successful boot sequence is to mount the overlay file system with a hook setup by
          to call
          which if extroot is not configured, mounts the writable data partition "rootfs_data" as overlay over the / partition "rootfs". If the data partition is being prepared, overlays a tmpfs in ram.
          Filesystem snapshots are supported; this is a feature listed in Barrier Breaker announce, shell wrapper is /sbin/snapshot script. The "SNAPSHOT=magic" environment variable is set in mount_snapshot() line 330.
    5. uloop_run(), line 118
      At exit of the (/rom)/etc/preinit shell script, invokes the callback spawn_procd()
    6. spawn_procd()
      As a callback by uloop_run in pid 1, this is pid 1; execs /sbin/procd

  2. /sbin/procd
    Execed by pid 1 /sbin/init, /sbin/procd replaces it as pid 1.
    1. setsid(), line 67
      The process group ID and session ID of the calling process are set to the PID of the calling process: man 2 setsid See also man 7 credentials.
    2. uloop_init(), line 68
      The uloop instance set up before by /sbin/init is gone. Creates a new one.
    3. procd_signal(), line 69 (definition), line 82.
      Setup signal handlers. Reboot on SIGTERM or SIGINT, poweroff on SIGUSR2 or SIGUSR2.
    4. trigger_init(), line 70 (definition)
      Procd triggers on config file/network interface changes, see procd_triggers_on_config_filenetwork_interface_changes
      Initialise a run queue. An example is the sole documentation. A queued task has an uloop callback invoked when done, here sets the empty queue callback to do nothing.
    5. procd_state_next(), line 74 (definition)
      Transitions from NONE to EARLY the state of a state machine implemented in state_enter(void) used to sequence the remaining boot steps.
    6. STATE_EARLY in state_enter()
      1. Emits "- early -" to syslog,
      2. Initialise the watchdog,
      3. hotplug("/etc/hotplug.json") (definition)
        User space device hotplugging handler setup.
        Static variables in file scope are important. The filename of the script to execute is kept in hotplug.c global scope: static char * rule_file;.
        Opens a netlink socket (man 7 netlink) and handles the file descriptor to uloop, to listen to uevents: kernel messages informing userspace of kernel events. See
        The uloop instance in pid 1 uses epoll_wait to monitor file descriptors, the kernel netlink socket FD is one of them, and is instructed to invoke the callback hotplug_handler() on uevent arrival.
        This hotplug_handler callback stays active after coldplug, and will handle all uevents the kernel will emit.
      4. procd_coldplug() (definition)
        Umounts /dev/pts and /dev, mounts a tmpfs on /dev, creates directories /dev/shm and /dev/pts, forks udevtrigger to reconstruct kernel uevents went unheard before netlink socket opening ("coldplug").
        1. udevtrigger
          Scans /sys/bus/*/devices, /sys/class; and /sys/block if it isn't a subdir of /sys/class, writing "add" to the uevent file of all devices. Then the kernel synthesizes an "add" uevent message on netlink. See Injecting events into hotplug via "uevent" in

          A callback chain, udevtrigger_complete() followed by coldplug_complete() is attached to completion of the child udevtrigger process, such that the still to be reached uloop_run() in procd main() function, after all uevents will have been processed, will advance procd state to STATE_UBUS, line 31.
    7. uloop_run, line 75
      Solicited by udevtrigger in another process, the kernel emits uevents and uloop invokes the user space hotplug handler: the callback
      1. hotplug_handler
        to run /etc/hotplug.json.
        1. The /etc/hotplug.json script
          - creates and removes devices files, assigns them permissions,
          - loads firmware,
          - handles buttons by calling scripts in /etc/rc.button/%BUTTON% if the uevent has the "BUTTON" value,
          - and invokes /sbin/hotplug-call "%SUBSYSTEM%" to handle all other subsystem related actions.
          Subystems are: "platform" "net", "input", "usb", "usbmisc", "ieee1394", "block", "atm", "zaptel", "tty", "button" (without BUTTON value, possible?), "usb-serial". "usb-serial" is aliased to "tty" in hotplug.json.
          Documentation of json script syntax? Offline. Use the source. It is the json representation of the abstract syntax tree of a script in a fairly intuitive scripting language.
          There are 2 levels at which decisions are taken: hotplug.json acts as fast path executor or lightweight dispatcher, the subsystem scripts in /etc/hotplug.d/%SUBSYSTEM%/ do the heavy lifting.
          Uevent messages from the kernel contain key-value pairs passed as environment variables to the scripts. The kernel function
          int add_uevent_var(struct kobj_uevent_env *env, const char *format, ...)
          creates them. This link;i=add_uevent_var provides a list of all places in the Linux kernel where it is used. It is an authoritative reference of the upstream defined uevent variables. Button events are generated by the out of tree kernel modules button-hotplug gpio-button-hotplug specific to OpenWrt.
          1. /sbin/hotplug-call "%SUBSYSTEM%"
            is a shell script that scans /etc/hotlug.d/%SUBSYSTEM%/* and sources all scripts assigned to a subsystem. "button" subsystem is handled here if the uevent lacks the "BUTTON" value, unlikely or impossible?.
      2. STATE_UBUS
        At end of coldplug uevents processing, the callback coldplug_complete calls procd_state_next which results in advancing procd to STATE_UBUS.
        "- ubus -" is logged to console, the services infrastructure is initialised, then procd schedules connect to after 1" (line 67) and starts /sbin/ubus as the system ubus service.
        Transition to next state is triggered by the callback ubus_connect_cb that at the end, line 118, calls procd_state_ubus_connect(), line 186, that calls procd_state_next to transition to
      3. STATE_INIT
        "- init -" is logged, /etc/inittab is parsed and entries
        ::askconsole:/bin/ash –login
        ::sysinit:/etc/init.d/rcS S boot
        executed. inittab format is the same as the one from busybox (Busybox example inittab).
        The "sysinit action" handler
        1. runrc
          instantiates a queue, whose empty handler rcdone will advance procd state.
          runrc ignores the process specification "/etc/init.d/rcS" (there is no such a script!), and runs
          1. rcS(pattern="S" , param="boot", rcdone) (line 159)
            that invokes the equivalent of
            _rc(&q, *path="/etc/rc.d", *file="S", *pattern="*", *param="boot")
            to enqueue in glob sort order the scripts
            /etc/rc.d/S* boot
            with "boot" as the action. /etc/rc.d/S* are symlinks made by rc.common enable to files in /etc/init.d, that are shell scripts with the shebang #!/bin/sh /etc/rc.common.
            Invoking a /etc/rc.d/S* script runs rc.common that sources the /etc/rc.d/S* script to set up a context, then invokes the function named as the action parameter ("boot()"), in that context.
        Execution arrives here after rcS scripts are done.
        "- init complete -" is logged.
        This is a stable state, keeping uloop_run in procd.c main() running, mostly waiting on epoll_wait. Upon receipt of a signal in SIGTERM, SIGINT (reboot), or SIGUSR2, SIGUSR2 (poweroff), procd transitions to
        "- shutdown -" is logged, /etc/inittab shutdown entry is executed, and procd sleeps at line 169 while the kernel does poweroff or reboot.
    8. uloop_done
      return 0
      lines 75 & 76 are never reached by pid 1, kernel would panic if init exited.
doc/techref/ · Last modified: 2016/02/04 12:56 by maga