Due Friday March 1, at 8:00pm
Project 2 requires you to implement signals and signal handlers. A signal
delivered to a process will interrupt what it is doing to process the event.
A signal is an inter-process communication mechanism that
involves causing one of a small array of functions to be
invoked in another process. Each process can use the
"signal" system call to manipulate a table that lists signal
handlers (function pointers) to be invoked at the request of
another process. To send a signal, a process calls the
"kill" system call with the pid of the target and the signal
number to send. The signal number represents the index into
the table of signal handlers in the target process. The
kernel will then arrange for the signal handler function to
be called within the process.
The slightly tricky part is to ensure that when the signal
handler returns, control is passed back to the kernel and
the process can resume from wherever it was. To accomplish
this task, we define a "return signal" call that will be
invoked as the signal handler returns.
In implementing signals, you will need to to arrange for the
process to have both a context when executing the signal
handler and a saved context that the signal handler will
return to after execution. In preparation, we describe context
1.1. Context Switching
To give the impression of kernel threads running
concurrently, the kernel gives each thread a small time quantum to run. When
this quantum expires, or the thread blocks for some reason, the kernel will
context-switch to a different thread. To do this, it must save the state
of the currently-running thread, load the state of the thread to switch to, and
then start running the new thread. The code to switch to a new thread is
written in assembly code, in the routine Switch_To_Thread.
Two important considerations are: (1) where
should I save the thread context during a context-switch? (2) what should this
context consist of? These questions are answered in turn.
1.2. The Kernel Stack (Thread Stack)
The kernel stack is the stack used by a
Geekos kernel thread while it is executing in the kernel. As usual, the
kernel stack stores the local variables used by the kernel thread while
running GeekOS kernel routines. This could be for kernel threads
performing system processes, like the reaper thread, or it could be for kernel
threads implementing user processes, executing system calls on their behalf.
When performing a context switch, the
current state (or "context") of a thread is saved on its
kernel stack. This state consists of the current values of (most
of) the registers. The fields stackPage and esp
defined in the Kernel_Thread structure, specify where the thread's
kernel stack is (esp is the kernel stack pointer). This
way, when a thread is to be context-switched to, the current thread
switches to the new thread's stack, and then restores the context.
Stacks grow downward, from numerically higher addresses to numerically lower
1.3. User Processes
User processes have a kernel stack, for calls within the
kernel when the kernel is running on the process's behalf,
and a user stack, for local variables while running
To prepare a user process to be run for the first time,
GeekOS pushes the same state on the kernel stack that it
would have had, if it has been previously running and
interrupted in a system call or by being preempted. The
state pushed onto the kernel stack includes the following:
Context Information: this includes (almost) all the registers used by
the user (GS, FS, ES, DS, EBP, EDI, ESI, EDX, ECX, EBX, EAX)
- Error code
and Interrupt number.
counter: this contains the value that should be loaded into the instruction
pointer register (EIP). Initially, when the user process is about to run,
GeekOS pushes the entry point for the process and this value will be
subsequently loaded into EIP.
selector: this is the selector corresponding to the code segment (CS) of the
- The EFlags
- User stack
data selector and user stack pointer: these point to the location of the user
When the thread is scheduled for the first time, these
initial values will be loaded into the corresponding processor registers and
the thread can run. The initial stack state for a user thread is described in
the following figure (check Setup_User_Thread()
User Stack Data Selector (data selector)
User Stack Location
User Stack Pointer (to end of user's data segment)
Text Selector (code selector)
Program Counter (entry addr)
Error Code (0)
Interrupt Number (0)
ESI (Argument Block address)
DS (data selector)
ES (data selector)
FS (data selector)
GS (data selector)
The items at the top of this diagram (in high memory) are
pushed first, the items at the bottom (in lower memory) are
pushed last (i.e., the stack grows downward). In this
figure, the contents of the stack, not including the user
stack location, are defined in struct
Interrupt_State in geekos/int.h. This is the
structure you're familiar with from modifying system calls
1.4. The User Stack
The user stack selector is the same as the data selector:
both the stack and the data segment occupy the same memory
segment. The user stack starts at the high end of the data
segment and grows downward. Initially, the user stack
pointer should indicate an empty stack. So it points to the
end of the data segment.
When switching from kernel mode to user mode, the kernel
in src/geekos/user.c. Switching the context
includes the following steps:
- Save the context of the currently executing thread
- Switch to a new address space by loading the LDT of the
new thread (ldtSelector of User_Context) using
the lldt assembly instruction
- Move the stack pointer up one page via
2. Project Requirements
This project will require you to make changes to
several files. In general, look for the calls to the TODO() macro.
These are places where you will need to add code, and they will generally
contain a comment giving you some hints on how to proceed. There are three
primary goals of this project:
- Add the code necessary to handle signals
- Implement a collection of system calls to setup and call the signals.
Modify the background processes to no longer be orphaned
on startup: they must retain the correct owner (parent)
information. (This will permit SIGCHLD.)
In this project, you must implement signal handling and
delivery for the following four signals (defined in
- This is is the signal sent to a
process to kill it. The process is not premitted
to install a signal handler for SIGKILL.
- SIGUSR1, SIGUSR2:
signals with no pre-determined purpose. These will be sent
only by other processes.
- When a child process dies, if its
parent is not already blocked Wait()ing for it, a SIGCHLD
signal should be sent to the parent process.
project, a "background" process must keep its parent (owner
points where it belongs and the initial refCount should be
2). When a background process dies, the parent can be
informed of this fact by SIGCHLD, and thus can reap the
child, using the Sys_WaitNoPID system call, defined
Further Reading: More information about signal handling can be found
in Chapter 4 of the text. A nice tutorial on UNIX signals can be found here.
2.2. System Calls
In this project, you will implement five system calls;
the user-space portion of these calls is defined for you
This system call registers a signal handler for a given signal number.
The signal handler is a function that takes the signal number as an argument
(it may not be useful to it), processes the signal in some way, then returns
nothing (void). If called with SIGKILL, return an error (EINVALID). The
handler may be set as the pre-defined "SIG_DFL" or "SIG_IGN" handlers.
SIG_IGN tells the kernel that the process wants to ignore the signal (it need
not be delivered). SIG_DFL tells the kernel to revert to its default behavior,
which is to terminate the process on KILL, USR1, and USR2, and to discard (ignore)
SIGCHLD. A process may need to set SIG_DFL after setting the handler to something
The signal handling infrastructure requires a special
"trampoline" function to be implemented. This "trampoline"
invokes the system call Sys_ReturnSignal (see
below) at the conclusion of signal handler. This system
call is invoked by Sig_Init when called by the _Entry function
in src/libc/entry.c; this function is invoked prior to
running the user program's main().
In this project, it will be used to send a signal to a
certain process. So in addition to the PID, Sys_Kill will take a signal
number: one of the four defined above. It should be implemented as setting a
flag in the process to which the signal is to be delivered, so that when the
given process is about to start executing in user space again, rather than
returning to where it left off, it will execute the appropriate signal handler
system call is not invoked by user-space programs directly, but rather is
executed by some stub code at the completion of a signal handler. That is,
Sys_Kill/Send_Signal sends process P a signal, which causes it to run its signal handler.
When this handler completes, we will have set up its stack so that it will
"return" to the trampoline registered by Sys_RegDeliver. This
trampoline wil invoke Sys_ReturnSignal to indicate that signal handling is
The Sys_Wait system call takes as its argument the
PID of the child process to wait for, and returns when that
process dies. The Sys_WaitNoPID call, in contrast,
takes a pointer to an integer as its argument, and reaps any
zombie child process that happens to have terminated. It
places the exit status in the memory location the argument
points to and returns the pid of the zombie. If there are
no dead child process, then the system call should return
If the default handler is invoked for SIGKILL, SIGUSR1, or
Print("Terminated %d.\n", g_currentThread->pid);
Reentrancy and Preemption
Sending a signal should appear as if setting a flag in the
PCB about the pending signal; the signal handler need not be
In particular, if the process is executing a signal handler,
do not start executing another signal handler.
Further, multiple invocations of kill() to send the same
signal to the same process before it begins handling even
one will have the same effect as just one invocation of
For example, if two children finish while another handler is
executing (and blocked), the SIGCHLD handler will be called
only once. However, if one child finishes while the
parent's SIGCHLD handler is executing, another SIGCHLD
handler should be called. See the sigaction() man page if
in doubt about reentrancy.
The delivery order of pending signals is not
specified. (They need not be delivered in the order
2.3. Signal Delivery
To implement signal delivery, you will need to implement (at
least) five routines in src/geekos/signal.c:
- this takes as its arguments a pointer to the kernel
thread to which to deliver the signal, and the signal number to deliver. This
should set a flag in the given thread to indicate that a signal is pending.
This flag is used by Check_Pending_Signal, described next.
this routine is called by code in lowlevel.asm when a kernel thread is about to
be context-switched to. It returns true if the following THREE conditions
- A signal is pending for that
- The process is about to start executing in user space. This can be
determined by checking the Interrupt_State's CS register: if it is not the
kernel's CS register (see include/geekos/defs.h), then the process is about to
return to user space.
- The process is not currently
handling another signal (recall that signal handling is non-reentrant).
- use this routine to register a signal handler provided by
the Sys_Signal system call.
- this routine is called when Check_Pending_Signal returns
true, to set up a user process's user stack and kernel stack so that when it
starts executing, it will execute the correct signal handler, and when that
handler completes, the process will invoke the Sys_ReturnSignal system call to go back
to what it was doing.
IF instead the process is relying on SIG_IGN or SIG_DFL,
handle the signal within the kernel.
IF the process has defined a signal handler for this signal, this function will have to do the following:
- Choose the correct handler to invoke.
- Acquire the pointer to the top of the user stack. This is below the
saved interrupt state stored on the kernel stack as shown in the figure
- Push onto the user stack a snapshot of the interrupt state that is
currently stored at the top of the kernel stack. The interrupt
state is the topmost portion of the kernel stack, defined in
include/geekos/int.h in struct Interrupt_State, shown above.
- Push onto the user stack the number of the signal being delivered.
- Push onto the user stack the address of the "signal
trampoline" that invokes the Sys_ReturnSignal system call, and was
registered by the Sys_RegDeliver system call, mentioned above.
- Change the current kernel stack such that (notice that you already
saved a copy in the user stack)
(1) The user
stack pointer is updated to reflect the changes made in step 3 - 5.
(2) The saved program counter (eip) points to the signal handler.
routine should be called (by your code) when the Sys_ReturnSignal call is
invoked, to indicate a signal handler has completed. It needs to restore back
on the top of the kernel stack the snapshot of the interrupt state currently on
the top of the user stack.