[Letux-kernel] [PATCH v5 3/5] misc serdev: Add w2sg0004 (gps receiver) power control driver

H. Nikolaus Schaller hns at goldelico.com
Wed Mar 7 16:53:12 CET 2018

Hi Johan,
I know you have a lot of other things to do, but we are still waiting for a
statement that this driver will be accepted after fixing the final coding issues.

Please advise on how you want to proceed with this.

One more technical comment/question/aspect below:

> Am 18.01.2018 um 14:43 schrieb H. Nikolaus Schaller <hns at goldelico.com>:
> Hi Johan,
>> Am 18.01.2018 um 07:13 schrieb Johan Hovold <johan at kernel.org>:
>> Hacks are never good, but sometimes needed. But we should try to keep
>> them contained in drivers rather than allow them to spread to core code,
>> was what I was trying to say above.
> Well, aren't we talking here about a well isolated driver? And not about
> core code?
> Core code already provides everything to build a driver for this chip
> to make us happy with.
> It is just not yet providing a generic gps interface API to make everybody
> happy with.
>>> That is what Andreas did remark as motivation: provide a solution
>>> for *existing* user spaces.
>> I understand that this is what you want, but that in itself is not a
>> sufficient reason to put something in the kernel.
> Agreed, but it is a secondary (but still strong) motivation, not the primary one.
>>>>> - can not guarantee (!) to power off the chip if the last user-space
>>>>> process using it is killed (which is essential for power-management of
>>>>> a handheld, battery operated device)
>>>> That depends on how you implement things (extending gpsd, wrapper
>>>> script, pty daemon, ...).
>>> No. You can of course cover all standard cases but there is one fundamental
>>> issue which is IMHO a problem of any user-space implementation:
>>> 	How can you guarantee that the chip is powered off if no
>>> 	user-space process is using it or if the last process doing
>>> 	this is killed by *whatever* reason?
>>> E.g. after a kill -9. Or if someone deinstalls gpsd or whatever and assumes
>>> (and wants a guarantee) that GPS is now turned off and never turned on drawing
>>> precious milliamps from the battery for no use.
>> Have something run at init to put the device in a low power state.

If I look for example at the camera module drivers provided by
drivers/media/i2c, most of them could be easily power-controlled from
user-space by i2c-tools and 1-2 gpios through /sys/class/gpio and
a big set of scripts.

Still they have a place in the kernel and cameras are powered on
if the device is opened and powered down if it is closed.

So I am still trying to understand the rationale and logic (if one exists)
behind having them in kernel but rejecting our driver which does the
same for a different class of devices.

> This does *not* solve the issue how to *guarantee* that it becomes
> powered off if the number of user-space processes goes down to zero
> *after* init.
> Please consider that a portable device is rarely booted but might be
> operated over several days with many suspend cycles. And people may
> still expect that the power consumer "GPS" is turned off if their
> personal user-space setup simply kills gpsd.

>>> As it is well known, a user-space process can't protect itself against kill -9.
>>> Or has this recently been changed and I am not aware of?
>>> This is the fundamental reason why we need a kernel driver to provide
>>> reliable, repeatable and trustable power management of this chip.
>>> It is equally fundamental as a hard disk should spin down after the last
>>> file is closed. Even if this process ends by a kill -9.
> Please advise how we should solve this fundamental problem in user-space.
>>> This seems to contradict your argument that user-space can very easily
>>> adapt to everything. If the latter were true there would be no need to
>>> keep old interfaces supported for a long time.
>> You probably know that we try hard never to change an interface that
>> would break user space, and that's why we need to get it right.
> Yes, I know and agree that it is very important (and difficult to achieve).
> But it seems that there are different opinions of what "right" is...
> You seem to focus on the "right" API only (where we agree that the "right"
> API does not exist and likely will never come or at least in the near future).
> But for us the whole combination of kernel + user-space must behave "right"
> (and use a function split that allows to optimally achieve this goal).
>>> So can you agree to that a battery powered portable device must have
>>> reliable and trustable power management? And if it provable can't be
>>> implemented in user-space (a single counter example suffices) it must
>>> be a kernel driver?
>> Having a kernel driver would make things easier for user space, sure,
>> but again, that's not a sufficient reason to merge just any kernel
>> implementation.
> It is not about "easier" for anyone. Neither for you nor for me. For us
> it would be much easier not to have to run this never-ending discussion
> over and over...
> It is about making it technically fully "reliable". And not 99% as per
> quick and dirty user-space hacks.
> It is so easy to invent scenarios in user-space to make the device practically
> unusable by unnoticed draining a full battery within less than a day when
> not perfectly turning off the chip power.
> So if a kernel driver can better protect users against this situation for
> a portable device with this chip, why shouldn't it do with a handful LOC?
> What requirement is more important than this?
> BR and thanks,
> Nikolaus

BR and thanks,
Nikolaus Schaller

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