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How system calls work in Linux

Nasser M. Abbasi

May 29, 2000   Compiled on May 18, 2020 at 5:04pm

These are notes I wrote while learning how system calls work on a Linux system.

To help show this how system call works, I show flow of a typical system call such as fopen().

fopen() is a function call defined in the C standard library. I use glibc-2.1 as an implementation.

From the UNIX98 standard, fopen() is defined as

Create the following t.c C program to use to test with:

To step into fopen(), glibc 2.1 was build in debug and the new build libc.a was linked against instead of the default installed libc on my linux box.

To build glibc, the following are steps performed. A good reference is the glibc2 HOWTO, http://www.linux.ps.pl/doc/other/LDP/HOWTO/Glibc2-HOWTO.html

First, I downloaded the glibc tar file to /usr/src/packages/SOURCES. Extracted It and it created glibc-2.1/ directory. Then copied the crypt tar file into glibc-2.1/ and extracted that. It created crypt/ directory under glibc-2.1/. Next I did

  cd glibc-2.1
  ./configure --enable-add-ons
  make check

Next, Installed the library into a direcory called INSTALL_LIB under glibc-2.1.

    make install install_root=/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/glibc-2.1/INSTALL_LIB

OK, now glibc-2.1 is compiled and ready to use. Back to the little C program we have above. Lets now compile it and link it to the above library.

 gcc -static -g -I /usr/src/packages/SOURCES/glibc-2.1/INSTALL_LIB/usr/local/include \
    -L/usr/src/packages/SOURCES/glibc-2.1/INSTALL_LIB/usr/local/lib t.c

Ok, now lets step through it.

$gdb ./a.out
GNU gdb 4.18
(gdb) break main
Breakpoint 1 at 0x80481b6: file t.c, line 7.

(gdb) run
Starting program: /export/g/nabbasi/data/my_misc_programs/my_c/./a.out

Breakpoint 1, main (argc=1, argv=0xbffff434) at t.c:7
7         f = fopen("test.txt","r");
(gdb) list
3       int main(int argc, char *argv[])
4       {
5         FILE *f;
7         f = fopen("test.txt","r");
9         return 0;
10      }

(gdb) disassemble main
Dump of assembler code for function main:
0x80481b0 <main>:       push   %ebp
0x80481b1 <main+1>:     mov    %esp,%ebp
0x80481b3 <main+3>:     sub    $0x4,%esp
0x80481b6 <main+6>:     push   $0x8071ba8
0x80481bb <main+11>:    push   $0x8071baa
0x80481c0 <main+16>:    call   0x8048710 <_IO_new_fopen>
0x80481c5 <main+21>:    add    $0x8,%esp
0x80481c8 <main+24>:    mov    %eax,%eax
0x80481ca <main+26>:    mov    %eax,0xfffffffc(%ebp)
0x80481cd <main+29>:    xor    %eax,%eax
0x80481cf <main+31>:    jmp    0x80481e0 <main+48>
0x80481d1 <main+33>:    jmp    0x80481e0 <main+48>
0x80481e0 <main+48>:    mov    %ebp,%esp
0x80481e2 <main+50>:    pop    %ebp
0x80481e3 <main+51>:    ret
End of assembler dump.

Humm... what happened to printf call? you will notice, it is now a call to _IO_new_fopen. But I was calling fopen, not _IO_new_fopen?.

Lets step into _IO_new_fopen and see what happened.

(gdb) s
_IO_new_fopen (filename=0x8071baa "test.txt", mode=0x8071ba8 "r") at iofopen.c:42
42        } *new_f = (struct locked_FILE *) malloc (sizeof (struct locked_FILE));

So, _IO_new_fopen is an entry in iofopen.c. Where is this file?

cd glibc-2.1
find . -name iofopen.c

will show it as glibc-2.1/libio/iofopen.c Lets look at it

Notice at the end what it says, it says weak_alias (_IO_new_fopen, fopen). This tells gcc that _IO_new_fopen is an alias to fopen. (weak alias). Let me make sure. Looking at libc.a now

cd /usr/src/packages/SOURCES/glibc-2.1/INSTALL_LIB/usr/local/lib
nm libc.a
         U _IO_file_fopen
         U _IO_file_init
         U _IO_file_jumps
00000000 W _IO_fopen
         U _IO_init
00000000 T _IO_new_fopen
         U _IO_un_link
         U __pthread_atfork
         U __pthread_getspecific
         U __pthread_initialize
         U __pthread_key_create
         U __pthread_mutex_destroy
         U __pthread_mutex_init
         U __pthread_mutex_lock
         U __pthread_mutex_trylock
         U __pthread_mutex_unlock
         U __pthread_mutexattr_destroy
         U __pthread_mutexattr_init
         U __pthread_mutexattr_settype
         U __pthread_once
         U __pthread_setspecific
         U _pthread_cleanup_pop_restore
         U _pthread_cleanup_push_defer
00000000 W fopen
         U free
         U malloc

Notice fopen has W next to it, meaning a Weak symbol. So, the linker when it sees a call to fopen will bind the call to _IO_new_fopen.

It is just a different name for fopen. This way, library can create different implementations for calls without the user program having to change.

Ok, now, lets continue to see where we will end up. back to gdb.

(gdb) disassemble fopen
Dump of assembler code for function _IO_new_fopen:
0x8048710 <_IO_new_fopen>:      push   %ebp
0x8048711 <_IO_new_fopen+1>:    mov    %esp,%ebp
0x8048713 <_IO_new_fopen+3>:    push   %ebx
0x8048714 <_IO_new_fopen+4>:    push   $0xb0
0x8048719 <_IO_new_fopen+9>:    call   0x804b020 <__libc_malloc>
0x804871e <_IO_new_fopen+14>:   mov    %eax,%ebx
0x8048720 <_IO_new_fopen+16>:   add    $0x4,%esp
0x8048723 <_IO_new_fopen+19>:   test   %ebx,%ebx
0x8048725 <_IO_new_fopen+21>:   jne    0x8048730 <_IO_new_fopen+32>
0x8048727 <_IO_new_fopen+23>:   xor    %eax,%eax
0x8048729 <_IO_new_fopen+25>:   jmp    0x8048782 <_IO_new_fopen+114>
0x804872b <_IO_new_fopen+27>:   nop
0x804872c <_IO_new_fopen+28>:   lea    0x0(%esi,1),%esi
0x8048730 <_IO_new_fopen+32>:   lea    0x98(%ebx),%edx
0x8048736 <_IO_new_fopen+38>:   mov    %edx,0x48(%ebx)
0x8048739 <_IO_new_fopen+41>:   push   $0x0
0x804873b <_IO_new_fopen+43>:   push   %ebx
0x804873c <_IO_new_fopen+44>:   call   0x804a030 <_IO_init>
0x8048741 <_IO_new_fopen+49>:   movl   $0x807a360,0x94(%ebx)
0x804874b <_IO_new_fopen+59>:   push   %ebx
0x804874c <_IO_new_fopen+60>:   call   0x80487a0 <_IO_new_file_init>
0x8048751 <_IO_new_fopen+65>:   push   $0x1
0x8048753 <_IO_new_fopen+67>:   mov    0xc(%ebp),%eax
0x8048756 <_IO_new_fopen+70>:   push   %eax
0x8048757 <_IO_new_fopen+71>:   mov    0x8(%ebp),%eax
0x804875a <_IO_new_fopen+74>:   push   %eax
0x804875b <_IO_new_fopen+75>:   push   %ebx
0x804875c <_IO_new_fopen+76>:   call   0x80488e0 <_IO_new_file_fopen>
0x8048761 <_IO_new_fopen+81>:   add    $0x1c,%esp
0x8048764 <_IO_new_fopen+84>:   test   %eax,%eax
0x8048766 <_IO_new_fopen+86>:   jne    0x8048780 <_IO_new_fopen+112>
0x8048768 <_IO_new_fopen+88>:   push   %ebx
0x8048769 <_IO_new_fopen+89>:   call   0x80497a0 <_IO_un_link>
0x804876e <_IO_new_fopen+94>:   push   %ebx
0x804876f <_IO_new_fopen+95>:   call   0x804b9f0 <__libc_free>
0x8048774 <_IO_new_fopen+100>:  xor    %eax,%eax
0x8048776 <_IO_new_fopen+102>:  jmp    0x8048782 <_IO_new_fopen+114>
0x8048778 <_IO_new_fopen+104>:  nop
0x8048779 <_IO_new_fopen+105>:  lea    0x0(%esi,1),%esi
0x8048780 <_IO_new_fopen+112>:  mov    %ebx,%eax
0x8048782 <_IO_new_fopen+114>:  mov    0xfffffffc(%ebp),%ebx
0x8048785 <_IO_new_fopen+117>:  mov    %ebp,%esp
0x8048787 <_IO_new_fopen+119>:  pop    %ebp
0x8048788 <_IO_new_fopen+120>:  ret
End of assembler dump.

The call I am interested in is _IO_new_file_fopen. The earlier calls were calls that create and initialize data structures. I am interested in finding the call that will result in interrupt 0x80. So, lets step to _IO_new_file_fopen.

(gdb) break _IO_new_file_fopen
Breakpoint 3 at 0x80488ec: file fileops.c, line 204.
(gdb) continue

Breakpoint 3, _IO_new_file_fopen (fp=0x807c838, filename=0x8071baa "test.txt", mode=0x8071ba8 "r", is32not64=1) at fileops.c:204
204       int oflags = 0, omode;

The file fileops.c is located in glibc-2.1/libio/, lets look at the source code for _IO_file_fopen() in that file:

Let us assume the file is not allready open, the next call will be _IO_file_open()

Setting a break point there. But notice, looking at source code in fileops.c, the above call to _IO_file_open is inlined (for performance?)

Setting a break point at the call to open above.

(gdb) where
#0  _IO_new_file_fopen (fp=0x807c838, filename=0x8071baa "test.txt", mode=0x8071ba8 "r", is32not64=1) at fileops.c:179
#1  0x8048761 in _IO_new_fopen (filename=0x8071baa "test.txt", mode=0x8071ba8 "r") at iofopen.c:55
#2  0x80481c5 in main (argc=1, argv=0xbffff434) at t.c:7
(gdb) list
174          int read_write;
175          int is32not64;
176     {
177       int fdesc;
178     #ifdef _G_OPEN64
179       fdesc = (is32not64
180                ? open (filename, posix_mode, prot)   -------> This is call we need
181                : _G_OPEN64 (filename, posix_mode, prot));
182     #else
183       fdesc = open (filename, posix_mode, prot);
(gdb) break open
Breakpoint 2 at 0x804df80

Since _IO_file_fopen is inlined inside _IO_new_file_fopen, we can look at the assembler call to open above by disassembly of _IO_new_file_fopen().

I’ll show only the part where the call to open is made

(gdb) disassemble _IO_new_file_fopen
Dump of assembler code for function _IO_new_file_fopen:
0x80489e4 <_IO_new_file_fopen+260>:     push   $0x1b6
0x80489e9 <_IO_new_file_fopen+265>:     push   %eax
0x80489ea <_IO_new_file_fopen+266>:     mov    0xc(%ebp),%edi
0x80489ed <_IO_new_file_fopen+269>:     push   %edi
0x80489ee <_IO_new_file_fopen+270>:     call   0x804df80 <__libc_open>  ----> this is open

Ok, back to gdb, setting a breakpoint at open and stepping into it

(gdb) where
#0  _IO_new_file_fopen (fp=0x807c838, filename=0x8071baa "test.txt", mode=0x8071ba8 "r", is32not64=1) at fileops.c:179
#1  0x8048761 in _IO_new_fopen (filename=0x8071baa "test.txt", mode=0x8071ba8 "r") at iofopen.c:55
#2  0x80481c5 in main (argc=1, argv=0xbffff434) at t.c:7
(gdb) s

Breakpoint 2, 0x804df80 in __libc_open ()
(gdb) disassemble
Dump of assembler code for function __libc_open:
0x804df80 <__libc_open>:        push   %ebx
0x804df81 <__libc_open+1>:      mov    0x10(%esp,1),%edx
0x804df85 <__libc_open+5>:      mov    0xc(%esp,1),%ecx
0x804df89 <__libc_open+9>:      mov    0x8(%esp,1),%ebx
0x804df8d <__libc_open+13>:     mov    $0x5,%eax
0x804df92 <__libc_open+18>:     int    $0x80    -----> to kernel mode.
0x804df94 <__libc_open+20>:     pop    %ebx
0x804df95 <__libc_open+21>:     cmp    $0xfffff001,%eax
0x804df9a <__libc_open+26>:     jae    0x804e450 <__syscall_error>
0x804dfa0 <__libc_open+32>:     ret
End of assembler dump.

We are finally there. The open() call being made from _IO_file_open(), is translated to __libc_open() and __libc_open() will issue the interupt 0x80, which will turn the processor to run in kernel more, and the interrupt handler will locate the kernel system call to process open().

But before jumping into kernel mode, lets see how did the call to open() become a call to __libc_open() It turns out that when building glibc-2.1, there is a file called glibc-2.1/sysdeps/unix/syscalls.list

This file is used by the glibc build system to generate the wrapper for open() and call it __libc_open.

>cat glibc-2.1/sysdeps/unix/syscalls.list
# File name     Caller  Syscall name    # args  Strong name     Weak names

access          -       access          2       __access        access
acct            -       acct            1       acct
chdir           -       chdir           1       __chdir         chdir
chmod           -       chmod           2       __chmod         chmod
chown           -       chown           3       __chown         chown
chroot          -       chroot          1       chroot
close           -       close           1       __libc_close    __close close
dup             -       dup             1       __dup           dup
dup2            -       dup2            2       __dup2          dup2
fchdir          -       fchdir          1       __fchdir        fchdir
fcntl           -       fcntl           3       __libc_fcntl    __fcntl fcntl
fstatfs         -       fstatfs         2       __fstatfs       fstatfs
fsync           -       fsync           1       __libc_fsync    fsync
getdomain       -       getdomainname   2       getdomainname
getgid          -       getgid          0       __getgid        getgid
getgroups       -       getgroups       2       __getgroups     getgroups
getitimer       -       getitimer       2       __getitimer     getitimer
getpid          -       getpid          0       __getpid        getpid
getpriority     -       getpriority     2       getpriority
getrlimit       -       getrlimit       2       __getrlimit     getrlimit
getuid          -       getuid          0       __getuid        getuid
ioctl           -       ioctl           3       __ioctl         ioctl
kill            -       kill            2       __kill          kill
link            -       link            2       __link          link
lseek           -       lseek           3       __libc_lseek    __lseek lseek
mkdir           -       mkdir           2       __mkdir         mkdir
open            -       open            3       __libc_open     __open open
profil          -       profil          4       profil
ptrace          -       ptrace          4       ptrace
read            -       read            3       __libc_read     __read read
readlink        -       readlink        3       __readlink      readlink
readv           -       readv           3       __readv         readv
reboot          -       reboot          1       reboot
rename          -       rename          2       rename
rmdir           -       rmdir           1       __rmdir         rmdir
select          -       select          5       __select        select
setdomain       -       setdomainname   2       setdomainname
setegid         -       setegid         1       __setegid       setegid
seteuid         -       seteuid         1       __seteuid       seteuid
setgid          -       setgid          1       __setgid        setgid
setgroups       -       setgroups       2       setgroups
setitimer       -       setitimer       3       __setitimer     setitimer
setpriority     -       setpriority     3       setpriority
setrlimit       -       setrlimit       2       setrlimit
setsid          -       setsid          0       __setsid        setsid
settimeofday    -       settimeofday    2       __settimeofday  settimeofday
setuid          -       setuid          1       __setuid        setuid
sigsuspend      -       sigsuspend      1       sigsuspend
sstk            -       sstk            1       sstk
statfs          -       statfs          2       __statfs        statfs
swapoff         -       swapoff         1       swapoff
swapon          -       swapon          1       swapon
symlink         -       symlink         2       __symlink       symlink
sync            -       sync            0       sync
sys_fstat       fxstat  fstat           2       __syscall_fstat
sys_mknod       xmknod  mknod           3       __syscall_mknod
sys_stat        xstat   stat            2       __syscall_stat
umask           -       umask           1       __umask         umask
uname           -       uname           1       uname
unlink          -       unlink          1       __unlink        unlink
utimes          -       utimes          2       __utimes        utimes
write           -       write           3       __libc_write    __write write
writev          -       writev          3       __writev        writev

I extraced open.o from libc.a and dumped the open.o

use ar -x libc.a, in some temp dir.

>objdump --show-raw-insn open.o
open.o:     file format elf32-i386
>objdump  --disassemble open.o
open.o:     file format elf32-i386
Disassembly of section .text:
00000000 <__libc_open>:
   0:   53                      pushl  %ebx
   1:   8b 54 24 10             movl   0x10(%esp,1),%edx
   5:   8b 4c 24 0c             movl   0xc(%esp,1),%ecx
   9:   8b 5c 24 08             movl   0x8(%esp,1),%ebx
   d:   b8 05 00 00 00          movl   $0x5,%eax
  12:   cd 80                   int    $0x80
  14:   5b                      popl   %ebx
  15:   3d 01 f0 ff ff          cmpl   $0xfffff001,%eax
  1a:   0f 83 fc ff ff ff       jae    1c <__libc_open+0x1c>
  20:   c3                      ret

How does the glibc build system generate the wrapper call to open()? It happens when the glibc-2.1/io directory is build. This is the output where it happens:

make[1]: Entering directory `/export/g/src/packages/SOURCES/glibc-2.1/io'
(echo '#include <sysdep.h>'; \
 echo 'PSEUDO (__libc_open, open, 3)'; \
 echo ' ret'; \
 echo 'PSEUDO_END(__libc_open)'; \
 echo 'weak_alias (__libc_open, __open)'; \
 echo 'weak_alias (__libc_open, open)'; \
) | gcc -c  -I../include -I.  -I.. -I../libio  -I../sysdeps/i386/elf
-I../crypt/sysdeps/unix -I../linuxthreads/
sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux -I../linuxthreads/sysdeps/pthread
-I../linuxthreads/sysdeps/unix/sysv -I../linuxthreads
/sysdeps/unix -I../linuxthreads/sysdeps/i386/i686 -I../linuxthreads/sysdeps/i386
386/i686 -I../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/i386 -I../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux
-I../sysdeps/gnu -I../sysdeps/unix/comm
on -I../sysdeps/unix/mman -I../sysdeps/unix/inet -I../sysdeps/unix/sysv/i386
-I../sysdeps/unix/sysv -I../sysdeps/unix/i386 -I../sysdeps/unix -I../sysdeps/posix
-I../sysdeps/i386/i686 -I../sysdeps/i386/i486 -I../sysdeps/lib
m-i387/i686 -I../sysdeps/i386/fpu -I../sysdeps/libm-i387 -I../sysdeps/i386
-I../sysdeps/wordsize-32 -I../sysdeps/ieee754 -I../sysdeps/libm-ieee754
-I../sysdeps/generic/elf -I../sysdeps/generic   -D_LIBC_REENTRANT
-include ../include/libc-symbols.h     -DASSEMBLER  -DGAS_SYNTAX  -x assembler-with-cpp
-o open.o -echo 'io/utime.o io/mkfifo.o io/stat.o io/fstat.o io/lstat.o
io/mknod.o io/stat64.o io/fstat64.o io/lstat64.o io/xstat.o io/fxstat.o
io/lxstat.o io/xmknod.o io/xstat64.o io/fxstat64.o io/lxstat64.o io/statfs.o io/fstatfs.o
 io/statfs64.o io/fstatfs64.o io/statvfs.o io/fstatvfs.o io/statvfs64.o
io/fstatvfs64.o io/umask.o io/chmod.o io/fchmod.o io/mkdir.o io/open.o
io/open64.o io/close.o io/read.o io/write.o io/lseek.o io/lseek64.o io/access.o
 io/euidaccess.o io/fcntl.o io/flock.o io/lockf.o io/lockf64.o io/dup.o io/dup2.o
io/pipe.o io/creat.o io/creat64.o io/chdir.o io/fchdir.o io/getcwd.o
io/getwd.o io/getdirname.o io/chown.o io/fchown.o io/lchown.o io/ttyname.o
io/ttyname_r.o io/isatty.o io/link.o io/symlink.o io/readlink.o io/unlink.o
io/rmdir.o io/ftw.o io/ftw64.o io/fts.o io/poll.o' > stamp.oT
mv -f stamp.oT stamp.o

I do not understand the above, as I do not see where is the C source code for the call wrapper. Maybe one day I will understand the above.

But as a result of the above, we get open.o in libc.a, with the __libc_open entry there as an alias for ’open’. OK, now let me look more at the code generated in __libc_open.

Here it is again

>objdump  --disassemble open.o
open.o:     file format elf32-i386
Disassembly of section .text:
00000000 <__libc_open>:
   0:   53                      pushl  %ebx
   1:   8b 54 24 10             movl   0x10(%esp,1),%edx
   5:   8b 4c 24 0c             movl   0xc(%esp,1),%ecx
   9:   8b 5c 24 08             movl   0x8(%esp,1),%ebx
   d:   b8 05 00 00 00          movl   $0x5,%eax
  12:   cd 80                   int    $0x80
  14:   5b                      popl   %ebx
  15:   3d 01 f0 ff ff          cmpl   $0xfffff001,%eax
  1a:   0f 83 fc ff ff ff       jae    1c <__libc_open+0x1c>
  20:   c3                      ret

Notice that open() takes 3 arguments

  open (filename, posix_mode, prot)

Notice the asembler shows using registers eds, ecx, and ebx to pass the data, then it moves 5 to eax. What is 5? This got to be the number that kernel uses to identify which system call it is.

Actually this will end up as an index used by the interrupt handler to locate the system call. Lets look around.

cd glibc-2.1
>find . -name '*.h' | grep syscal

>more ./include/syscall.h
#include <misc/syscall.h>

>more ./misc/syscall.h
#include <sys/syscall.h>

Ok, getting closer, lets look at /usr/include/sys/syscall.h

>more /usr/include/sys/syscall.h

Ok, I am getting really close now.

>more /usr/include/asm/unistd.h

yahoo! found it. So, 5 is moved to register eax, and interrupt 0x80 is invoked.

When interrupt returns, system call is complete. It does not seem that the syscall macros defined in /usr/inlcude/asm/unistd.h are used in glibc?

OK, so far so good, now I’ll switch hats, and jump into kernel mode to see how the open() call is processed. I need to find the code for that processes the interrupt 0x80.

The interrupt routine that is bound to interrupt 0x80 is found in


the entry point is called ENTRY(system_call).

Lets look at the code for the interrupt routine:

pushl %eax # save orig_eax
cmpl $(NR_syscalls),%eax    -----------> Notice, eax is where the system call number is saved.
jae badsys
testb $0x20,flags(%ebx) # PF_TRACESYS
jne tracesys
call *SYMBOL_NAME(sys_call_table)(,%eax,4)  -----> Here we index into the sys_call_table using the above number.
movl %eax,EAX(%esp) # save the return value
#ifdef __SMP__
movl processor(%ebx),%eax
shll $5,%eax
movl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state)(,%eax),%ecx
testl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state)+4(,%eax),%ecx
movl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state),%ecx
testl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state)+4,%ecx
jne   handle_softirq

cmpl $0,need_resched(%ebx)
jne reschedule
cmpl $0,sigpending(%ebx)
jne signal_return

sti # we can get here from an interrupt handler
testl $(VM_MASK),EFLAGS(%esp)
movl %esp,%eax
jne v86_signal_return
xorl %edx,%edx
call SYMBOL_NAME(do_signal)
jmp restore_all

call SYMBOL_NAME(save_v86_state)
movl %eax,%esp
xorl %edx,%edx
call SYMBOL_NAME(do_signal)
jmp restore_all

movl $-ENOSYS,EAX(%esp)
call SYMBOL_NAME(syscall_trace)
movl ORIG_EAX(%esp),%eax
cmpl $(NR_syscalls),%eax
jae tracesys_exit
call *SYMBOL_NAME(sys_call_table)(,%eax,4)
movl %eax,EAX(%esp) # save the return value
call SYMBOL_NAME(syscall_trace)
jmp ret_from_sys_call
movl $-ENOSYS,EAX(%esp)
jmp ret_from_sys_call

#ifdef __SMP__
movl processor(%ebx),%eax
shll $5,%eax
movl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state)(,%eax),%ecx
testl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state)+4(,%eax),%ecx
movl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state),%ecx
testl SYMBOL_NAME(softirq_state)+4,%ecx
jne   handle_softirq

movl EFLAGS(%esp),%eax # mix EFLAGS and CS
movb CS(%esp),%al
testl $(VM_MASK | 3),%eax # return to VM86 mode or non-supervisor?
jne ret_with_reschedule
jmp restore_all

call SYMBOL_NAME(do_softirq)
jmp ret_from_intr

call SYMBOL_NAME(schedule)    # test
jmp ret_from_sys_call

pushl $0 # no error code
pushl $ SYMBOL_NAME(do_divide_error)
pushl %ds
pushl %eax
xorl %eax,%eax
pushl %ebp
pushl %edi
pushl %esi
pushl %edx
decl %eax # eax = -1
pushl %ecx
pushl %ebx
movl %es,%ecx
xchgl %eax, ORIG_EAX(%esp) # orig_eax (get the error code. )
movl %esp,%edx
xchgl %ecx, ES(%esp) # get the address and save es.
pushl %eax # push the error code
pushl %edx
movl $(__KERNEL_DS),%edx
movl %edx,%ds
movl %edx,%es
call *%ecx
addl $8,%esp
jmp ret_from_exception

The sys_call_table itself is located in .data segment in entry.S, this is the start of the table

.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_ni_syscall) /* 0  -  old "setup()" system call*/
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_exit)
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_fork)
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_read)
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_write)
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_open) /* 5 */
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_mincore)
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_madvise)


 * NOTE!! This doesn't have to be exact - we just have
 * to make sure we have _enough_ of the "sys_ni_syscall"
 * entries. Don't panic if you notice that this hasn't
 * been shrunk every time we add a new system call.
.rept NR_syscalls-219
.long SYMBOL_NAME(sys_ni_syscall)

Ok, lets follow the system call. I see from the dispatch table above, that the open() call is implemented in kernel using sys_open.

Where is sys_open() ? All the sys calls related to IO are locatd in linux/fs/. Looking at linux/fs/open.c, this is the sys_open function.

The function filp_open() is in the same above file as sys_open(). Here is the function

Notice the call to open_namei(), this is the interface to the virtual file system. calls into VFS are named _namei (verify?).

open_namei() is defined in linux/fs/namei.c.

After some access checking, and pathname checking, and possibly allocating an inode, a kernel internal struct file is allocated for the file. The file struct contains a pointer to file_operations struct, which contains the address of functions to process operations on this filesystem, that must have been initialized when the file system was mounted.

struct file {
456         struct list_head        f_list;
457         struct dentry           *f_dentry;
458         struct vfsmount         *f_vfsmnt;
459         struct file_operations  *f_op;
460         atomic_t                f_count;
461         unsigned int            f_flags;
462         mode_t                  f_mode;
463         loff_t                  f_pos;
464         unsigned long           f_reada, f_ramax, f_raend, f_ralen, f_rawin;
465         struct fown_struct      f_owner;
466         unsigned int            f_uid, f_gid;
467         int                     f_error;
469         unsigned long           f_version;
471         /* needed for tty driver, and maybe others */
472         void                    *private_data;
473 };

Ok, time to go sleep now.