If you haven’t read previous blog posts from TrenchBoot series, we strongly encourage to catch up on it. Best way, is to search under TrenchBoot tag. This article roughly describes how to start Multiboot2 kernels on the top of Landing Zone. As an example we will securely start Xen hypervisor together with measured dom0 kernel and initramfs, but first let’s start with other changes introduced with this release.
This release breaks the compatibility with the previous ones (again). All blocks of code used in the DRTM launch (that is, bootloader, LZ and kernel) built for the previous releases will not work with another blocks built for this release, and vice versa.
New format of bootloader data
In order to protect ourselves from compatibility issues like the one just mentioned, we decided to refurbish the format of the data that are passed from the bootloader to the Landing Zone. We used a simple C structure, which is very easy to parse, but very hard to update without breaking the existing code. The only possible non-breaking change would be to add new fields at the end of that structure. This also forbids the use of variable length fields, unless such field is the last one in the structure, but this in turn means that we can’t add new fields anymore.
We decided to implement something similar to Multiboot2 boot information format. This gives a good compromise between ease of use, relatively low size and ability to add new features in the future. We also don’t have to pass the pieces of information (tags) that are not relevant for the other boot protocols than the one used for the current boot. Every tag has its size specified in its header, so even if for some reason the bootloader passes a tag that the LZ doesn’t know, it can just skip it and parse the next one.
Other than the first and last tag, the order in which they appear isn’t fixed. This gives the bootloader more flexibility when it comes to the order in which it obtains the information that is put into those tags. The first tag is fixed to specify the size of the whole list of tags, and the last one is there to ease parsing and provide additional safety check.
Whole list is measured at once and PCR18 is extended with the hashes of all the tags, not just the ones known to the LZ.
This is an example of what the LZ tag looks like:
They can also have a variable length:
This tag brings us to the next change introduced by this release.
Landing Zone hashes are now calculated by a bootloader
As the layout of the bootloader data was reworked, we no longer have the predefined place for LZ hash(es). We decided that they should be calculated by the bootloader. That way, the bootloader can discover what algorithms are actually supported by the TPM and pass only those hashes, reducing the amount of memory required for data.
Event log header is still produced by the LZ. It would be bad idea to give control over this to presumably insecure bootloader - this header holds the list of algorithms and their lengths, which is later used for parsing the events. Unfortunately, this means that only algorithms supported by both the TPM and the Landing Zone can be written to the event log. It is the only way to ensure safety of this approach - if you need another algorithm supported, please implement it and send a pull request, user contributions are welcome!
Multiboot2 support in LZ
The reason we decided to implement this was to show that it is not specific to Linux boot protocol. Multiboot2 is relatively simple protocol, but at the same time it is very powerful. It wasn’t created with single OS in mind, it is rather generic.
There are many hobbyist operating systems using Multiboot2, but what we want to show is Xen hypervisor using Linux as dom0. That way we can easily use the tools we used before for obtaining and printing the event log.
Important parts of Multiboot2 specification
From the Multiboot2 specification we need mostly just two sections. The first
which tells what the CPU registers values should be. It isn’t very restrictive,
it just requires that the CPU is in flat protected mode with no paging, where
all segment registers are properly set. Just two general purpose registers have
defined values: EAX holds a magic number
0x36d76289 that specifies Multiboot2
protocol, and EBX holds the pointer to the Multiboot2 information structure.
Multiboot2 information structure is the second important section. It holds virtually all the data that bootloader has to pass to the kernel in Multiboot2 protocol. This includes command line, list of modules along with their command lines, memory map, framebuffer info, copies of SMBIOS tables and ACPI RSDP etc. Most of this could be passed without even parsing in the LZ, except for modules, which are measured. Other than that, the code tries to obtain the kernel size and entry point if the bootloader didn’t pass that information. These two fields aren’t specified directly in that structure, but they can be obtained if there are ELF headers.
The rest of the specification is mostly implemented in a bootloader and of no use in the LZ.
Can we have older Multiboot support?
While Multiboot2 has the data in its information structure, the older Multiboot information structure has pointers to data. This would require parsing every pointer and every structure that it points to, at least to know their sizes so they could be measured.
This is also problematic for kernels that are started with this protocol. Until they parse all of the structures, they cannot assume that any memory range is available, otherwise they risk overwriting data they will require later.
Because of the change to bootloader data format both bootloader and Landing Zone must be rebuilt. We don’t need to bother with rebuilding Linux kernel - Xen starts it through the usual entry point, not the Secure Launch one. The rebuild is needed for starting Linux directly, though. Below are the links to the branches from which the components should be built:
All binaries (except for GRUB2) can be found
here. Initramfs with busybox,
cbmem modified as described below is also
available there. You can save these files on disk or run them directly from
For the iPXE bootloader, most of the image loading commands are actually aliases to a different command. As a result, the LZ, Linux kernel and initramfs can all be loaded with the same command. iPXE discovers what image format it is by comparing magic numbers specific for given image type. Order of commands should not matter, but from our experience this is not always true - memory management in iPXE is poor, it also doesn’t take into account that some of the components are later decompressed in place.
Obtaining DRTM event log
Xen clears some memory ranges to provide better security. While the main coreboot tables (in which DRTM event log is located, along with other tables) are not cleared, the forwarding table is.
Forwarding table is a short table containing pointer to the main table. It is located in either
0xf0000-0xf1000memory ranges. This reduces the time required to find it, while giving the ability to put the bigger main tables somewhere else.
The main tables are near the top of RAM (but below 4 GB so they can be accessed
from 32b operating systems), in the same range as the ACPI tables, just above
them. We added two switches to the
cbmem utility to allow searching for
coreboot tables in range defined by user. Those options are:
Code has been uploaded to the
develop branch of coreboot,
it will be included in the following releases. To build
cbmem run these
Resulting binary is
To know where to search for main coreboot tables we have to consult memory map.
There are many ways to do this, but the easiest and most universal one is
dmesg. Near the beginning of kernel logs we can see something like
By comparing memory map with ACPI addresses we can see that the memory reserved
for ACPI (and also coreboot tables) is in the
Knowing those values we can now try to read the DRTM event log:
This log was for iPXE. GRUB2 handles modules slightly differently - it does not write module name (URL in this case), just the command line following the name. This does not change PCR17 values, but it changes PCR18; those names are part of MBI structure which is measured in entry 3.
There are still some things that should be changed on the Xen side - one of the things done by SKINIT instruction is that it blocks interrupts. For now, we re-enable the interrupts in the LZ, but it really should be done by the Xen, as it is Xen that will be handling the interrupts.
We focused mainly on the Xen hypervisor, but those changes should work for other Multiboot2 kernels, too. In case of problems with different kernels, please let us know in a comment below.
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