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Add a new protocol to Linux Kernel December 2, 2008

Posted by linuxwarrior in Linux.
Tags: , ,

Written By : Vishal Thanki

The Linux Network sub-system supports several protocols. It is flexible enough to allow addition of new protocols. These protocols are accessible to user application through socket interface by means of protocol family. The subsequent sections will cover major steps to add a new protocol family (with Linux kernel 2.6.24 as reference). The implementation of the new protocol is not in scope of this document.

Top level view of Linux Network (Kernel) Sub-system:


For the scope of this document, we can consider the network sub-system in Linux consisting of three layers as shown above.
1. The top most “SOCKET” layer takes care of all socket related system calls. It identifies the protocol family and forwards the call to respective protocol implementation.

2.The next layer implements transport and network layer protocols, where we can introduce our new protocol family.

3. The lowest layer is the network controller device driver providing hardware access.

Adding a New Protocol Family:
The Linux kernel network subsystem data structures, “struct proto” (/include/net/sock.h) and the “struct net_proto_family” (/include/linux/net.h) encapsulates the protocol family implementation.
Following step by step code snippets show a simplified example to register the new protocol family similar to TCP/IP stack (using IP as the network layer). Please note, all the protocol specific new functions (to be implemented) has prefix “my_”.
1) Initialize an instance of “struct proto” and register to Linux network sub-system with call “proto_register()”.

/* Protocol specific socket structure */
struct my_sock {
struct inet_sock isk;
/* Add the Protocol implementation specific data members per socket here from here on */

struct proto my_proto = {
.close = my_close,
.connect = my_connect,
.disconnect = my_disconnect,
.accept = my_accept,
.ioctl = my_ioctl,
.init = my_init_sock,
.shutdown = my_shutdown,
.setsockopt = my_setsockopt,
.getsockopt = my_getsockopt,
.sendmsg = my_sendmsg,
.recvmsg = my_recvmsg,
.unhash = my_unhash,
.get_port = my_get_port,
.enter_memory_pressure = my_enter_memory_pressure,
.sockets_allocated = &sockets_allocated,
.memory_allocated = &memory_allocated,
.memory_pressure = &memory_pressure,
.orphan_count = &orphan_count,
.sysctl_mem = sysctl_tcp_mem,
.sysctl_wmem = sysctl_tcp_wmem,
.sysctl_rmem = sysctl_tcp_rmem,
.max_header = 0,
.obj_size = sizeof(struct my_sock),
.owner = THIS_MODULE,
.name = "NEW_TCP",

rc = proto_register(&my_proto, 1);

2) Provide an interface to create the new protocol specific socket creation routine. Register our handler to socket layer using call “sock_register()”. The “family” member specifies the address family for the new protocol.
struct net_proto_family my_net_proto = {
.family = AF_INET_NEW_TCP,
.create = my_create_socket,
.owner = THIS_MODULE,

rc = sock_register(&my_net_proto, 1);

3) The new protocol’s address family is the only interface for user level socket calls to reach the new protocol implementation. The new protocol’s address family AF_INET_NEW_TCP should be added in /include/linux/socket.h. Any socket() call with this new address family will be directed to my_create_socket() function in kernel, and which establishes the use of new protocol stack for all subsequent socket operations.

4) The protocol can be connection oriented or connection less as chosen by the protocol implementer. In the socket creation routine, protocol implementer specifies a “struct proto_ops” (/include/linux/net.h) instance. The socket layer calls function members of this proto_ops instance before the protocol specific functions are called (as defined in step# 1). A typical implementation of the create socket routine for TCP/IP like (connection oriented) new protocol:
static struct proto_ops my_proto_ops = {
.family = PF_INET,
.owner = THIS_MODULE,
.release = inet_release,
.bind = my_bind,
.connect = inet_stream_connect,
.socketpair = sock_no_socketpair,
.accept = inet_accept,
.getname = inet_getname,
.poll = my_poll,
.ioctl = inet_ioctl,
.listen = my_inet_listen,
.shutdown = inet_shutdown,
.setsockopt = sock_common_setsockopt,
.getsockopt = sock_common_getsockopt,
.sendmsg = inet_sendmsg,
.recvmsg = sock_common_recvmsg,

static int my_create_socket(struct socket *sock, int protocol)
struct sock *sk;
int rc;

sk = sk_alloc(PF_INET_NEW_TCP, GFP_KERNEL, &my_proto, 1);
if (!sk) {
printk("failed to allocate socket.\n");
return -ENOMEM;

sock_init_data(sock, sk);
sk->sk_protocol = 0x0;

sock->ops = &my_proto_ops;
sock->state = SS_UNCONNECTED;

/* Do the protocol specific socket object initialization */
return 0;