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How far java is from the Linux kernel

Jun 01, 2021 Article blog

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In this article, we'll show you how application and system engineers comb through Linux kernel code from the perspective of non-kernel developers. I hope you can get something after reading, but also hope that more developers can pay attention to the field of kernel development, after all, even the ancestral master Linus said that the kernel maintainer to follow up no one ah!

How far is Java from the kernel?

Test environment version information:

Ubuntu(lsb_release -a) Distributor ID: UbuntuDescription: Ubuntu 19.10Release: 19.10
Linux(uname -a) Linux yahua 5.5.5 #1 SMP ... x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
Java Openjdk jdk14

How do people who play the kernel know Java This is mainly due to my school's Java course and graduation experience of doing Android phones at Huawei, several modules scanned from APP/Framework/Service/HAL/Driver and naturally have an understanding of Java

Every time I mention Java I think of an interesting experience. J ust after graduation to the department to report to the first week, the department leader (in Huawei is the Manager) arranged for us to familiarize ourselves with Android I t took me a few days to write an Android game, some of which was similar to watching it all the time. At the beginning of the week, the leader saw my presentation and looked unhappy, questioning that my direct leader (called PL, Project Leader at Huawei) had not told us the direction of the department.

emm, I really didn't understand what the so-called familiar Android was supposed to do, and then PL said it was about getting familiar with the xxx module, and the APP was just one part of it. So if I'm sure, maybe I'm a Java engineer now (haha manual dog's head).

(Recommended tutorial: Java tutorial)

Start with the launcher

The furthest distance in the world is when we're sitting next door, I'm looking at the underlying agreement, and you're studying spring... If you want to get closer to us, download openjdk source code, then glibc and then kernel. 内核源码

Java program to JVM this is certainly more familiar to me, on the door to make an axe.

Let's take the entry of JVM as an example and analyze the process from JVM to the kernel, which is main function (java.base/share/native/launcher/main.c):

main(int argc, char **argv)
    return JLI_Launch(margc, margv,
                   jargc, (const char**) jargv,
                   0, NULL,
                   (const_progname != NULL) ? const_progname : *margv,
                   (const_launcher != NULL) ? const_launcher : *margv,
                   jargc > 0,
                   const_cpwildcard, const_javaw, 0);

JLI_Launch did three things we cared about.

First, call CreateExecutionEnvironment to find the settings environment variables, such as the path of JVM (the variable jvmpath below), and in my case, /usr/lib/jvm/java-14-openjdk-amd64/lib/server/ window platform may be libjvm.dll

Second, call LoadJavaVM to load JVM which is the file, and then find the corresponding field for the function assignment that created the JVM to InvocationFunctions

jboolean LoadJavaVM(const char *jvmpath, InvocationFunctions *ifn)
void *libjvm;
    libjvm = dlopen(jvmpath, RTLD_NOW + RTLD_GLOBAL);
    ifn->CreateJavaVM = (CreateJavaVM_t)
        dlsym(libjvm, "JNI_CreateJavaVM");
    ifn->GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs = (GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs_t)
        dlsym(libjvm, "JNI_GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs");
    ifn->GetCreatedJavaVMs = (GetCreatedJavaVMs_t)
        dlsym(libjvm, "JNI_GetCreatedJavaVMs");
    return JNI_TRUE;

dlopen and dlsym involve dynamic links, which are simply understood definitions that contain JNI_CreateJavaVM JNI_GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs and JNI_GetCreatedJavaVMs and when dynamic links are completed, ifn->CreateJavaVM ifn->GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs and ifn->GetCreatedJavaVMs are the addresses of these functions.

You may want to confirm that the next have these three functions.

objdump -D /usr/lib/jvm/java-14-openjdk-amd64/lib/server/ | grep -E 
"CreateJavaVM|GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs|GetCreatedJavaVMs" | grep ":$"
00000000008fa9d0 <JNI_GetDefaultJavaVMInitArgs@@SUNWprivate_1.1>:
00000000008faa20 <JNI_GetCreatedJavaVMs@@SUNWprivate_1.1>:
00000000009098e0 <JNI_CreateJavaVM@@SUNWprivate_1.1>:

These implementations are available in openjdk source code (hotspot/share/prims/under), and interested students can continue to delve into them.

Finally, call JVMInit initialize JVM load Java program.

JVMInit ContinueInNewThread which CallJavaMainInNewThread T o paraphernate, I really don't like to tell the story the way function calls, a call b, b and c, is a waste of space, but in some places the span is too large for fear of misunderstanding (especially for beginners). Believe me, water injection, really no, I don't need experience haha.

The main logic of CallJavaMainInNewThread is as follows:

int CallJavaMainInNewThread(jlong stack_size, void* args) {
    int rslt;
    pthread_t tid;
    pthread_attr_t attr;
    pthread_attr_setdetachstate(&attr, PTHREAD_CREATE_JOINABLE);
    if (stack_size > 0) {
        pthread_attr_setstacksize(&attr, stack_size);
    pthread_attr_setguardsize(&attr, 0); // no pthread guard page on java threads
    if (pthread_create(&tid, &attr, ThreadJavaMain, args) == 0) {
        void* tmp;
        pthread_join(tid, &tmp);
        rslt = (int)(intptr_t)tmp;
   else {
        rslt = JavaMain(args);
    return rslt;

See pthread_create solve the case, Java thread is implemented through pthread Y ou can get into the kernel here, but let's move on to JVM first. ThreadJavaMain calls JavaMain directly, so the logic here is that if the thread is created successfully, JavaMain is executed by a new thread, otherwise JavaMain is executed in the current process.

JavaMain is our focus, and the core logic is as follows:

int JavaMain(void* _args)
    JavaMainArgs *args = (JavaMainArgs *)_args;
    int argc = args->argc;
    char **argv = args->argv;
    int mode = args->mode;
    char *what = args->what;
    InvocationFunctions ifn = args->ifn;
    JavaVM *vm = 0;
    JNIEnv *env = 0;
    jclass mainClass = NULL;
    jclass appClass = NULL; // actual application class being launched
    jmethodID mainID;
    jobjectArray mainArgs;
    int ret = 0;
    jlong start, end;
    /* Initialize the virtual machine */
    if (!InitializeJVM(&vm, &env, &ifn)) {    //1
    mainClass = LoadMainClass(env, mode, what);    //2
    mainArgs = CreateApplicationArgs(env, argv, argc);
    mainID = (*env)->GetStaticMethodID(env, mainClass, "main",
                                       "([Ljava/lang/String;)V");    //3
    /* Invoke main method. */
    (*env)->CallStaticVoidMethod(env, mainClass, mainID, mainArgs);    //4
    ret = (*env)->ExceptionOccurred(env) == NULL ? 0 : 1;

Step 1, call InitializeJVM initialize JVM InitializeJVM calls ifn->CreateJavaVM which is in JNI_CreateJavaVM

Step 2, LoadMainClass which ends up calling JVM_FindClassFromBootLoader also finds the function through a dynamic link (defined under hotspot/share/prims/) and then calls it.

Step 3 and 4, Java classmates should know that this is calling main function.

It's a bit of a running point... pthread_create continue to look at the kernel with pthread_create as an example.

In fact, pthread_create is a short distance from the kernel, which is glibc nptl/pthread_create.c The creation thread is ultimately implemented through clone system call, and we don't care about the details of glibc (otherwise it's off again), just look at how it differs from the direct clone

(Recommended micro-class: Java micro-class)

The following discussion of threads is extracted from the book.

const int clone_flags = (CLONE_VM | CLONE_FS | CLONE_FILES | CLONE_SYSVSEM
   | 0);
__clone (&start_thread, stackaddr, clone_flags, pd, &pd->tid, tp, &pd->tid);

The description of each sign is as follows (this sentence is not excerpted... )。

sign description
CLONE_VM Share the VM with the current process
CLONE_FS Share file system information
CLONE_FILES Share open files
CLONE_PARENT The same parent process as the current process
CLONE_THREAD Being in the same thread group as the current process also means that the thread is created
CLONE_SYSVSEM Share sem_undo_list
...... ......

Share VMs with current processes, share file system information, share open files... We understand when we see this, and that's what threading is all about.

Linux doesn't actually essentially separate processes from threads, also known as lightweight processes (Low Weight Process, LWP), except that threads share memory, files, and other resources with the process (thread) that created it.

The full paragraph is as follows (several paragraphs expanded in double quotes) that interested students can read in detail:

The _do_fork parameter that fork passes to clone_flags is fixed, so it can only be used to create a process, the kernel provides another system call clone and clone eventually calls _do_fork implementation, unlike fork where the user can determine clone_flags as needed, and we can use it to create threads, as follows (the parameters of clone may be different under different platforms):

SYSCALL_DEFINE5(clone, unsigned long, clone_flags, unsigned long, newsp,
 int __user *, parent_tidptr, int, tls_val, int __user *, child_tidptr)
return _do_fork(clone_flags, newsp, 0, parent_tidptr, child_tidptr);

Linux treats threads as lightweight processes, but the characteristics of threads are not arbitrarily determined by Linux and should be as compatible as possible with other operating systems, so it POSIX standard requirements for threads. Therefore, to create a thread, the parameters passed to the clone system call should also be basically fixed.

The parameters for creating a thread are complex, and fortunately pthread thread provides us with a function that pthread_create and the function prototype (user space) is as follows.

int pthread_create(pthread_t *thread, const pthread_attr_t *attr,
                          void *(*start_routine) (void *), void *arg);

The first argument thread is an output parameter in which the thread's id is id after the thread is created successfully, and the second parameter is used to customize the properties of the new thread. The successful creation of a new thread executes a function that start_routine points to, and the argument passed to that function is arg

pthread_create how exactly clone is called, roughly as follows:

//来源: glibc
const int clone_flags = (CLONE_VM | CLONE_FS | CLONE_FILES | CLONE_SYSVSEM
   | 0);
__clone (&start_thread, stackaddr, clone_flags, pd, &pd->tid, tp, &pd->tid);

clone_flags have more flags for positioning, the first few flags indicate that the thread shares resources with the current process (and possibly the thread), CLONE_THREAD means that the new thread and the current process are not parent-child relationships.

clone system call is also ultimately implemented through _do_fork so the difference between it and fork of the creation process is limited to differences due to different parameters, and there are two questions to explain.

First, vfork places CLONE_VM flag, causing the new process to modify the local variable to affect the current process. S o the clone which is also placed CLONE_VM also has this hidden danger? T he answer is no, because the new thread specifies its own user stack, specified by stackaddr copy_thread the sp parameter of the function is stackaddr childregs->sp = sp modifies the pt_regs of pt_regs new thread, so that when the new thread executes in user space, it uses a different stack than the current process and does not cause interference. Then why vfork do this, please refer to vfork design intent.

Second, fork returns twice, and so does clone but they are all returned to the system call and start executing, pthread_create How do I get a new thread to execute start_routine start_routine is performed indirectly by start_thread function, so we just need to understand how start_thread is called. start_thread is not passed to clone system call, so its call is independent of the kernel, and the answer is __clone function.

(Recommended tutorial: Linux tutorial)

In order to fully understand how the new process uses its user stack and the calling procedure of start_thread it is necessary to analyze __clone function, even if it is platform-dependent and written in assembly language.

ENTRY (__clone)
movl    $-EINVAL,%eax
movl    FUNC(%esp),%ecx /* no NULL function pointers */
testl   %ecx,%ecx
movl    STACK(%esp),%ecx    /* no NULL stack pointers */    //1
testl   %ecx,%ecx
andl    $0xfffffff0, %ecx  /*对齐*/    //2
subl    $28,%ecx
movl    ARG(%esp),%eax  /* no negative argument counts */
movl    %eax,12(%ecx)
movl    FUNC(%esp),%eax
movl    %eax,8(%ecx)
movl    $0,4(%ecx)
pushl   %ebx    //3
pushl   %esi
pushl   %edi
movl    TLS+12(%esp),%esi    //4
movl    PTID+12(%esp),%edx
movl    FLAGS+12(%esp),%ebx
movl    CTID+12(%esp),%edi
movl    $SYS_ify(clone),%eax
movl    %ebx, (%ecx)    //5
int $0x80    //6
popl    %edi    //7
popl    %esi
popl    %ebx
test    %eax,%eax    //8
jz  L(thread_start)
ret    //9
L(thread_start):    //10
movl    %esi,%ebp   /* terminate the stack frame */
testl   $CLONE_VM, %edi
je  L(newpid)
call    *%ebx

Take, for example, __clone (start_thread, stackaddr, clone_flags, pd, sptd->tid, tp, spt->tid),

FUNC(%esp) &start_thread to the start_thread ,

STACK(%esp) corresponds to stackaddr

ARG(%esp) corresponds to pd (the parameter passed by the new process to start_thread

  • Step 1 assigns the stack stackaddr the new process to ecx to ensure that its value is not 0.
  • Step 2, put pd &start_thread and 0 into the stack of the new thread, with no effect on the stack of the current process.
  • Step 3, put the values of the three registers of the current process into the stack, and subtract the values of the esp registers by 12 accordingly.
  • Step 4 prepares the system call, which FLAGS+12(%esp) into ebx corresponding to clone_flags and clone system call number into eax.
  • Step 5 puts clone_flags into the stack of the new process.
  • Step 6, use int directive to initiate a system call and hand it over to the kernel to create a new thread. As of here, all code is executed by the current process, and the new thread is not executed.
  • Code starting with Step 7, both the current process and the new thread are executed. F or the current process, the program puts its 3rd entry into the register out of the stack. But for a new thread, it is executed from the kernel's ret_from_fork and when it switches to the user state, its stack stackaddr so its edi is equal to clone_flags esi is equal to 0, ebx is equal to &start_thread
  • The result of the system call is returned by eax step 8 determines the result of the clone system call, and for the current process, if clone system call succeeds in returning id of the new thread in its pid namespace greater than 0, so it ret exit __clone function. F or a new thread, the return value of the clone system call is equal to 0, so it executes the code at L(thread_start) clone_flags CLONE_VM flag is set, the call *%ebx executed, ebx is equal to &start_thread and start_thread is executed, and it calls the start_routine provided to the pthread_create ending. start_routine

In this way, Java JVM glibc 内核 as if not far away.

(Recommended micro-class: Linux micro-class)

This is a related description of how far Java is from the Linux kernel, and I hope it will help you.