selinux: cache the SID -> context string translation

Translating a context struct to string can be quite slow, especially if
the context has a lot of category bits set. This can cause quite
noticeable performance impact in situations where the translation needs
to be done repeatedly. A common example is a UNIX datagram socket with
the SO_PASSSEC option enabled, which is used e.g. by systemd-journald
when receiving log messages via datagram socket. This scenario can be
reproduced with:

    cat /dev/urandom | base64 | logger &
    timeout 30s perf record -p $(pidof systemd-journald) -a -g
    kill %1
    perf report -g none --pretty raw | grep security_secid_to_secctx

Before the caching introduced by this patch, computing the context
string (security_secid_to_secctx() function) takes up ~65% of
systemd-journald's CPU time (assuming a context with 1024 categories
set and Fedora x86_64 release kernel configs). After this patch
(assuming near-perfect cache hit ratio) this overhead is reduced to just

This patch addresses the issue by caching a certain number (compile-time
configurable) of recently used context strings to speed up repeated
translations of the same context, while using only a small amount of

The cache is integrated into the existing sidtab table by adding a field
to each entry, which when not NULL contains an RCU-protected pointer to
a cache entry containing the cached string. The cache entries are kept
in a linked list sorted according to how recently they were used. On a
cache miss when the cache is full, the least recently used entry is
removed to make space for the new entry.

The patch migrates security_sid_to_context_core() to use the cache (also
a few other functions where it was possible without too much fuss, but
these mostly use the translation for logging in case of error, which is

Cc: Michal Sekletar <>
Signed-off-by: Ondrej Mosnacek <>
Reviewed-by: Stephen Smalley <>
Tested-by: Stephen Smalley <>
Reviewed-by: Paul E. McKenney <>
[PM: lots of merge fixups due to collisions with other sidtab patches]
Signed-off-by: Paul Moore <>
4 files changed