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On Fri, 2008-02-29 at 13:07 -0800, Casey Schaufler wrote:
> --- Trond Myklebust <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> > On Fri, 2008-02-29 at 10:52 -0800, Casey Schaufler wrote:
> > > So it sounds as if for an xattr protocol to be viable it would first
> > > require that xattr semantics be generally accepted (POSIX definition
> > > would suffice), that there be multiple implementations (Linux and Irix
> > > could suffice should Irix still be around when POSIX is done), and
> > > that there be a perceived need beyond that of the Lunitic Fringe
> > > Security Community.
> > The problem isn't that of supporting the naive user xattr model: we can
> > almost do that within the existing 'named attribute' model of NFSv4. The
> > problem is that of supporting the arbitrary "security metadata" that are
> > allowed to have side-effects on the system behaviour, and that we appear
> > to have thought was a good idea to overload onto the xattr interface.
> Hum. Security metadata was one of the justifications for the
> original implementation of the xattr interface for XFS at SGI.
> The implementation was intended to be generic and allow for
> storage of data that impacts system behavior. No, it is not
> overloading at all, it is really supposed to be used that way.
> That's how it works on CXFS, which I know is still proprietary,
> but which could become an open peer of NFS someday.
> > In the case of maclabels, where the "side-effect" is to describe and
> > enable extra access control rules, then you have the potential for
> > setting people up with a major interoperability problem. Using a
> > dedicated interface for it instead of overloading a Linux-style xattr
> > interface allows you to limit the scope of the documentation problem
> > that you would otherwise have.
> Yes, I can see that having a specific interface reduces the
> documentation required, and simplifies it as well. Unfortunately,
> given the way that a secctx is defined for either SELinux or
> Smack, and the fact that the relationships between secctx values
> are defined independently on the server and client* it does not
> appear that the interoperability issue has been addressed, or
> even really acknowleged with the proposed scheme. Yes, the issue
> of label translation has been acknowleged, but it appears to me
> that a day one solution is required for the scheme to be useful.
I completely disagree here. The Linux development model isn't to code the entire thing throw it over a wall and then deal with the collateral damage. This first version assumes a heterogenous environment and from what we see so far that seems to be the common usecase for this technology. A prototype implementation is already done for label translations and it does need to be outlined in the RFC (Which I've already started doing). However it is not necessary for an initial release. The translation engine allows you to plug in an arbitrary module to support whatever LSM you are going to use so this end of the architecture is agnostic to the format that is going to be used on the wire. For now that format is just a secctx which assumes the LSM running on both ends is the same. Once the basics are refined and we can use it as a base we will keep adding more functionality (process label transport, better change notification, server side policy enforcement, translation mappings.)
This is just a tiny fraction of what James outlined in the requirements document. So, one step at a time lest we trip over imaginary stones.
> So I suggest, again from a position of possible ignorance, that
> the proposed scheme suffers from some of the same interoperability
> and specification issues that a name/value pair scheme does, with
> the only real improvement being that the name part is hard coded.
> Perhaps that is sufficient improvement to justify the loss of
> generality, but I personally wouldn't think so.
> * Identical SELinux policy or Smack rule specifications are not
> necessaily sufficient to ensure label transparency.
> Casey Schaufler
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