kmod: make request_module() return an error when autoloading is disabled

Patch series "module autoloading fixes and cleanups", v5.

This series fixes a bug where request_module() was reporting success to
kernel code when module autoloading had been completely disabled via
'echo > /proc/sys/kernel/modprobe'.

It also addresses the issues raised on the original thread
bydocumenting the modprobe sysctl, adding a self-test for the empty path
case, and downgrading a user-reachable WARN_ONCE().

This patch (of 4):

It's long been possible to disable kernel module autoloading completely
(while still allowing manual module insertion) by setting
/proc/sys/kernel/modprobe to the empty string.

This can be preferable to setting it to a nonexistent file since it
avoids the overhead of an attempted execve(), avoids potential
deadlocks, and avoids the call to security_kernel_module_request() and
thus on SELinux-based systems eliminates the need to write SELinux rules
to dontaudit module_request.

However, when module autoloading is disabled in this way,
request_module() returns 0.  This is broken because callers expect 0 to
mean that the module was successfully loaded.

Apparently this was never noticed because this method of disabling
module autoloading isn't used much, and also most callers don't use the
return value of request_module() since it's always necessary to check
whether the module registered its functionality or not anyway.

But improperly returning 0 can indeed confuse a few callers, for example
get_fs_type() in fs/filesystems.c where it causes a WARNING to be hit:

	if (!fs && (request_module("fs-%.*s", len, name) == 0)) {
		fs = __get_fs_type(name, len);
		WARN_ONCE(!fs, "request_module fs-%.*s succeeded, but still no fs?\n", len, name);

This is easily reproduced with:

	echo > /proc/sys/kernel/modprobe
	mount -t NONEXISTENT none /

It causes:

	request_module fs-NONEXISTENT succeeded, but still no fs?
	WARNING: CPU: 1 PID: 1106 at fs/filesystems.c:275 get_fs_type+0xd6/0xf0

This should actually use pr_warn_once() rather than WARN_ONCE(), since
it's also user-reachable if userspace immediately unloads the module.
Regardless, request_module() should correctly return an error when it
fails.  So let's make it return -ENOENT, which matches the error when
the modprobe binary doesn't exist.

I've also sent patches to document and test this case.

Signed-off-by: Eric Biggers <>
Signed-off-by: Andrew Morton <>
Reviewed-by: Kees Cook <>
Reviewed-by: Jessica Yu <>
Acked-by: Luis Chamberlain <>
Cc: Alexei Starovoitov <>
Cc: Greg Kroah-Hartman <>
Cc: Jeff Vander Stoep <>
Cc: Ben Hutchings <>
Cc: Josh Triplett <>
Cc: <>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <>
1 file changed