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Re: [Qemu-devel] [PATCH v2 0/5] backdoor: lightweight guest-to-QEMU back

From: Stefan Hajnoczi
Subject: Re: [Qemu-devel] [PATCH v2 0/5] backdoor: lightweight guest-to-QEMU backdoor channel
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2011 14:05:23 +0000

2011/12/5 Lluís Vilanova <address@hidden>:
> Provides the ability for the guest to communicate with user-provided code 
> inside
> QEMU itself, using a lightweight mechanism.
> See first commit for a full description.
> Signed-off-by: Lluís Vilanova <address@hidden>
> ---

First off, thank you for your continued efforts - including the
general tracing improvements you have contributed in the past.  I
think many people use QEMU as a tool for research and simulation, but
few end up working upstream.  So thanks for polishing up your work and
submitting it upstream.

Thoughts on the pieces you have described:

> * Support for tracing guest code through TCG.

I'm not clear on whether a backdoor mechanism is needed or not.  A
backdoor mechanism allows a modified guest to participate in tracing.

Depending on the type of analysis you are doing it might be possible
to achieve the same thing by emitting calls to custom instrumentation
in TCG (or is this too low-level for what you're trying to trace in
the guest?).  The advantage is also that you can do this to unmodified

> * Support for different sets of enabled guest tracing events on a per-vCPU 
> basis.

This feature is very specific but potentially useful.  I haven't
reviewed patches yet but I can imagine that this would be merged.

> * Support for instrumenting tracing events (including those for guest code).

Although I typically use post-processing rather than filtering, I can
see your point about the power and flexibility in being able to react
on the spot to events inside QEMU.  Given the ad-hoc nature of the
instrumentation, as well as that this is really in the guts of QEMU
and TCG, I think we should make it easy to write instrumentation but
keep the infrastructure and APIs minimal.

Is there even a need to add "instrumentation" support on top of QEMU
tracing?  As an instrumentation implementor you are working with the
QEMU source tree and need to be somewhat familiar with the internals.
Why not just add custom functions into QEMU and call them from
relevant points?

The documentation and tracetool extensions you posted provide some
structure but IMO they don't cut down the workflow significantly over
adding plain old functions in places of interest.  i.e. by the time I
have read the docs and begun trying to add instrumentation I could
have already added a custom function in QEMU and built a binary.  Plus
it's harder to understand/debug instrumentation code if it sits on top
of the tracing instrumentation - yet another layer to understand.

So I'm suggesting that we don't *need* explicit support for
instrumenting trace events.  Instead add plain old functions where you
need them.  You may decide to invoke trace events from your
instrumentation function, but that's already covered today by

Am I missing the point of instrumentation tracing events or do you
agree that we can work well without it?


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