Lab: system calls

In the last lab you used systems calls to write a few utilities. In this lab you will add some new system calls to xv6, which will help you understand how they work and will expose you to some of the internals of the xv6 kernel. You will add more system calls in later labs.

Before you start coding, read Chapter 2 of the xv6 book, and Sections 4.3 and 4.4 of Chapter 4, and related source files:

To start the lab, switch to the syscall branch:

  $ git fetch
  $ git checkout syscall

If you run, make grade, you will see that the grading script cannot exec trace and sysinfotest. Your job is to add the necessary system calls and stubs to make them work.

System call tracing

In this assignment you will add a system call tracing feature that may help you when debugging later labs. You'll create a new trace system call that will control tracing. It should take one argument, an integer "mask", whose bits specify which system calls to trace. For example, to trace the fork system call, a program calls trace(1 << SYS_fork), where SYS_fork is a syscall number from kernel/syscall.h. You have to modify the xv6 kernel to print out a line when each system call is about to return, if the system call's number is set in the mask. The line should contain the process id, the name of the system call and the return value; you don't need to print the system call arguments. The trace system call should enable tracing for the process that calls it and any children that it subsequently forks, but should not affect other processes.

We provide a trace user-level program that runs another program with tracing enabled (see user/trace.c). When you're done, you should see output like this:

$ trace 32 grep hello README
3: syscall read -> 1023
3: syscall read -> 966
3: syscall read -> 70
3: syscall read -> 0
$ trace 2147483647 grep hello README
4: syscall trace -> 0
4: syscall exec -> 3
4: syscall open -> 3
4: syscall read -> 1023
4: syscall read -> 966
4: syscall read -> 70
4: syscall read -> 0
4: syscall close -> 0
$ grep hello README
$ trace 2 usertests forkforkfork
usertests starting
test forkforkfork: 407: syscall fork -> 408
408: syscall fork -> 409
409: syscall fork -> 410
410: syscall fork -> 411
409: syscall fork -> 412
410: syscall fork -> 413
409: syscall fork -> 414
411: syscall fork -> 415

In the first example above, trace invokes grep tracing just the read system call. The 32 is 1<<SYS_read. In the second example, trace runs grep while tracing all system calls; the 2147583647 has all 31 low bits set. In the third example, the program isn't traced, so no trace output is printed. In the fourth example, the fork system calls of all the descendants of the forkforkfork test in usertests are being traced. Your solution is correct if your program behaves as shown above (though the process IDs may be different).

Some hints:


In this assignment you will add a system call, sysinfo, that collects information about the running system. The system call takes one argument: a pointer to a struct sysinfo (see kernel/sysinfo.h). The kernel should fill out the fields of this struct: the freemem field should be set to the number of bytes of free memory, and the nproc field should be set to the number of processes whose state is not UNUSED. We provide a test program sysinfotest; you pass this assignment if it prints "sysinfotest: OK".

Some hints:

Submit the lab

This completes the lab. Make sure you pass all of the make grade tests. If this lab had questions, don't forget to write up your answers to the questions in answers-lab-name.txt. Commit your changes (including adding answers-lab-name.txt) and type make handin in the lab directory to hand in your lab.

Time spent

Create a new file, time.txt, and put in it a single integer, the number of hours you spent on the lab. Don't forget to git add and git commit the file.


You will turn in your assignments using the
submission website. You need to request once an API key from the submission website before you can turn in any assignments or labs.

After committing your final changes to the lab, type make handin to submit your lab.

$ git commit -am "ready to submit my lab"
[util c2e3c8b] ready to submit my lab
 2 files changed, 18 insertions(+), 2 deletions(-)

$ make handin
tar: Removing leading `/' from member names
Get an API key for yourself by visiting
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100 79258  100   239  100 79019    853   275k --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--  276k
make handin will store your API key in myapi.key. If you need to change your API key, just remove this file and let make handin generate it again (myapi.key must not include newline characters).

If you run make handin and you have either uncomitted changes or untracked files, you will see output similar to the following:

 M hello.c
?? bar.c
?? foo.pyc
Untracked files will not be handed in.  Continue? [y/N]
Inspect the above lines and make sure all files that your lab solution needs are tracked i.e. not listed in a line that begins with ??. You can cause git to track a new file that you create using git add filename.

If make handin does not work properly, try fixing the problem with the curl or Git commands. Or you can run make tarball. This will make a tar file for you, which you can then upload via our web interface.

Optional challenge exercises