Oscar Forner Martinez bio photo

Oscar Forner Martinez

I am software engineer at VCA Technology. Learning Linux Kernel, passionate about GNU/Linux and OSS, enjoying algorithms and data structures and coding in C and C++.

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NOTE: The code used to replace the user’s path with the one provided is BAD, never change user’s pointer content unless he/she is expecting that to happen. Don’t do that at home kids

I decided to explain the basics of a Linux Kernel Module with humor. I am not saying this is a good idea for April’s fool, but it is quite close ;)

This module shares some ideas with the post about LD_PRELOAD, but this time it is not to defend ourselves. The module will replace the open syscall for our own where it will detect if we are opening an mp3 or a jpg file. This idea was taken from this talk of Julia Evans.

As always, all the code used in this post is available in this repo.

Skeleton of a Linux Kernel Module

The following code is the skeleton of a Linux Kernel Module

I think the code above is quite self-explanatory.

What does this Module do?

As said before, this module is aimed to replace the current open syscall by ours, that will detect if the file we are trying to open is an mp3 or a jpg file and it will substitute the files by the ones provided when the module is loaded.

Code explained

This could seem a bit overwhelming, but let’s go through it.

Parameters provided to the module are declared and registered as follows:

Pointer to the old syscall and declaration of the new one. Moreover, we can see the method copy_to_user, this is to copy information from the Kernel Space to User Space.

The most outstanding part of the following piece of code is the use of kallsyms_lookup_name function. We will use it to locate the address of the sys_call_table.

Note: the sys_call_table is in read-only mode by default. To be able to write on it, the kernel running must have been compiled with the flag CONFIG_DEBUG_RODATA not set.

Example of how it works


This is a great and funny example of the power of the Linux Kernel Modules. I will write about more advanced examples in the future. Moreover, I will keep on trying to get a patch accepted in the main tree :D