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Re: [RFC v2] Unicode/UTF-8 support for XFS

To: Dave Chinner <david@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Ben Myers <bpm@xxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: [RFC v2] Unicode/UTF-8 support for XFS
From: Olaf Weber <olaf@xxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2014 15:21:04 +0200
Cc: <linux-fsdevel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, <tinguely@xxxxxxx>, <xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Delivered-to: xfs@xxxxxxxxxxx
In-reply-to: <20140922222611.GZ4322@dastard>
Organization: SGI
References: <20140918195650.GI19952@xxxxxxx> <20140922222611.GZ4322@dastard>
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:31.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/31.1.1
On 23-09-14 00:26, Dave Chinner wrote:
On Thu, Sep 18, 2014 at 02:56:50PM -0500, Ben Myers wrote:


TODO: Store the unicode version number of the filesystem on disk in the
super block.

So, if the filesystem has to store the specific unicode version it
was created with so that we know what version to put in trie
lookups, again I'll ask: why are we loading the trie as a generic
kernel module and not as metadata in the filesystem that is demand
paged and cached?

This way the trie can be shared, and the code using it is not entangled with the XFS code.

i.e. put the entire trie on disk, look up the specific conversion
required for the name being compared, and then cache that conversion
in memory. This makes repeated lookups much faster because the trie
only contains conversions that are in use, the memory footprint is
way lower and the conversions are guaranteed to be consistent for
the life of the filesystem....

Above you mention demand paging parts of the trie, but here you seem to suggest creating an in-core conversion table on the fly from data read from disk. The former seems a lot easier to do than the latter.

Here are Olaf's design notes:

Unicode/UTF-8 support for XFS

So we had a customer request proper unicode support...

* What does "supporting unicode" actually mean?

 From a text processing point of view, what a filesystem does with
filenames is simple: it stores and retrieves them, and compares them
for equality. It may reject certain byte sequences as invalid
filenames (for example, no filename can contain an ASCII NUL).

I've been taking it as a given that when a file is created with a
certain byte sequence as its name, then a subsequent directory listing
will contain that same byte sequence among the names listed.

This leaves comparing names for equality, and in my view this is what
"supporting unicode" revolves about.

The present state of affairs is that different byte sequences are
different filenames. This amounts to tolerating unicode without
actually supporting it.

That's somewhat circular - using your own definition of "supported"
to argue that your own definition is the right one....

To support unicode we have to interpret filenames. What happens when
(part of) a filename cannot be interpreted? We can reject the
filename, interpret the parts we can, or punt and accept it as an
uninterpreted blob.

Rejecting ill-formed filenames was my first choice, but I came around
on the issue: there are too many ways in which you can end up with
having to deal with ill-formed filenames that would leave a user with
no recourse but to move whatever they're doing to a different
filesystem. Unpacking a tarball with filenames in a different encoding
is an example.

You still haven't addressed this:

| So we accept invalid unicode in filenames, but only after failing to
| parse them? Isn't this a potential vector for exploiting weaknesses
| in application filename handling? i.e.  unprivileged user writes
| specially crafted invalid unicode filename to disk, setuid program
| tries to parse it, invalid sequence triggers a buffer overflow bug
| in setuid parser?

apart from handwaving that userspace has to be able to handle
invalid utf-8 already. Why should we let filesystems say "we fully
understand and support utf8" and then allow them to accept and
propagate invalid utf8 sequences and leave everyone else to have to
clean up the mess?

Because the alternative amounts in my opinion to a demand that every bit of userspace that may be involved in generating filenames generate only clean UTF-8. I do not believe that this is a realistic demand at this point in time.

Partial interpretation of an ill-formed filename just strikes me as
the kind of bad idea that most half-houses are. I admit that I have no
stronger objection to this than the fact that it makes the code even
more complicated and fragile.

Which leaves "blob" as the preferred option by default for coping with
ill-formed filenames.

And so can't be case-folded, leading to inconsistent behaviour of
case-insensitive filename comparisons.

I don't blindly subscribe to the robustness principle of "be liberal
with what you accept".  Being liberal means accepting malformed junk
and then trying to make good. It's a fool's game - we've learnt time
and time again that if we don't fully validate string inputs that we
have to interpret then someone will find an exploit that utilises
malformed strings. I don't think we should expose core kernel code
to such structural weaknesses...

This is why I prefer not to interpret strings that are not UTF-8. I just don't think we can afford to outright reject them.

When comparing well-formed filenames, the question now becomes which
byte sequences are considered to be alternative spellings of the same
filename. This is where normalization forms come into play, and the
unicode standard has quite a bit to say about the subject.

If all you're doing is comparison, then choosing NFD over NFC is easy,
because the former is easier to calculate than the latter.

If you want various spellings of "office" to compare equal, then
picking NFKD over NFD for comparison is also an obvious
choice. (Hand-picking individual compatibility forms is truly a bad
idea.) Ways to spell "office": "o_f_f_i_c_e", "o_f_fi_c_e", and
"o_ffi_c_e", using no ligatures, the fi ligature, or the ffi
ligature. (Some fool thought it a good idea to add these ligatures to
unicode, all we get to decide is how to cope.)

Yet normalised strings are only stable and hence comparable
if there are no unassigned code points in them.  What happens when
userspace is not using the same version of unicode as the
filesystem and is using newer code points in it's strings?
Normalisation fails, right?

For the newer code points, yes. This is not treated as a failure to normalize the string as a whole, as there are clear guidelines in unicode on how unassigned code points interact with normalization: they have canonical combining class 0 and no decomposition.

And as an extension of using normalisation for case-folded
comparisons, how do we make case folding work with blobs that can't
be normalised? It seems to me that this just leads to the nasty
situation where some filenames are case sensitive and some aren't
based on what the filesystem thinks is valid utf-8. The worst part
is that userspace has no idea that the filesystem is making such
distinctions and so behaviour is not at all predictable or expected.

Making case-folding work on a blob that cannot be normalized is (in my opinion) akin to doing an ASCII-based casefold on a Shift-JIS string: the result is neither pretty nor useful.

This is another point in favour of rejecting invalid utf-8 strings
and for keeping the translation tables stable within the

Bear in mind that this means not just rejecting invalid UTF-8 strings, but also rejecting valid UTF-8 strings that encode unassigned code points.

This should be easy to implement if it is decided that we want to do this.

The most contentious part is (should be) ignoring the codepoints with
the Default_Ignorable_Code_Point property. I've included the list
below. My argument, such as it is, is that these code points either
have no visible rendering, or in cases like the soft hyphen, are only
conditionally visible. The problem with these (as I see it) is that on
seeing a filename that might contain them you cannot tell whether they
are present. So I propose to ignore them for the purpose of comparing
filenames for equality.

Which introduces a non-standard "visibility criterial" for
determining what should be or shouldn't be part of the normalised
string for comparison. I don't see any real justification for
stepping outside the standard unicode normalisation here - just
because the user cannot see a character in a specific context does
not mean that it is not significant to the application that created

I agree these characters may be significant to the application. I'm just not convinced that they should be significant in a file name.

Finally, case folding. First of all, it is optional. Then the issue is
that you either go the language-specific route, or simplify the task
by "just" doing a full casefold (C+F, in unicode parlance). Looking
around the net I tend to find that if you're going to do casefolding
at all, then a language-independent full casefold is preferred because
it is the most predictable option. See
http://www.w3.org/TR/charmod-norm/ for an example of that kind of

Which says in section 2.4: "Some languages need case-folding to be
tailored to meet specific linguistic needs". That implies that the
case folding needs to be language aware and hence needs to be tied
into the NLS subsystem for handling specific quirks like Turkic.

It also recommends just doing a full case fold for cases where you are ignorant of the language actually in use. In section 3.1 they say: "However, language-sensitive case-sensitive matching in document formats and protocols is NOT RECOMMENDED because language information can be hard to obtain, verify, or manage and the resulting operations can produce results that frustrate users." This doesn't exactly address the case of filesystems, but as far as I know there is no defined interface that allows kernel code to query the locale settings that currently apply to a userspace process.

I also note that it says in several places that C+F can result in a
folded string of a different length. What happens when that folded
string is longer than 255 bytes and hence longer than NAME_MAX?
That's a bit of a nasty landmine for pathname string handling
functions - developers are going to assume that pathname components
are not longer than NAME_MAX, and if we are passing normalised
strings around that is not a valid assumption....

This is not just true for case folding: normalization may also change string length, and NFD or NFKD will typically increase the length.

That is among the reasons why normalized and case folded strings are not stored on disk, and are not passed up to other parts of the kernel. The code posted will generate a normalized version of the user-provided string used to look up data as a way to cache that normalization and to reduce stack pressure a bit, but this string is ephemeral and discarded once lookup is complete.

* XFS-specific design notes.
If the borgbit (the bit enabling legacy ASCII-based CI in XFS) is set
in the superblock, then case folding is added into the mix. This is
the nfkdicf normalization form mentioned above. It allows for the
creation of case-insensitive filesystems with UTF-8 support.

Please don't overload existing superblock feature bits with multiple
meanings. ASCII-CI is a stand-alone feature and is not in any way
compatible with Unicode: Unicode-CI is a superset of Unicode
support. So it really needs two new feature bits for Unicode and
Unicode-CI, not just one for unicode.

It seemed an obvious extension of the meaning of that bit.


Olaf Weber                 SGI               Phone:  +31(0)30-6696796
                           Veldzigt 2b       Fax:    +31(0)30-6696799
Technical Lead             3454 PW de Meern  Vnet:   955-6796
Storage Software           The Netherlands   Email:  olaf@xxxxxxx

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