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RFC-0110: Reboot for termination of critical components

RFC-0110: Reboot for termination of critical components
  • Component Framework

v2 component feature providing parity with v1 critical_components

Gerrit change
Date submitted (year-month-day)2021-05-26
Date reviewed (year-month-day)2021-07-21


A proposal to introduce a "reboot-on-termination" option to the component manifest's child declaration, which provides parity to sysmgr's critical_components feature.


In Components v1, sysmgr supports a feature called critical_components which lets system service components mark themselves as "critical". This means that, if the component terminates for any reason (including normal exit), sysmgr will trigger a reboot of the system. This reboot is a graceful reboot driven by power_manager, which causes the component topology to go through orderly shutdown. Graceful reboot tears down the system in a consistent manner and gives components a chance to shut down cleanly, allowing diagnostics to be preserved and filesystems to shut down cleanly.

Clients typically set this option on their component if they are not confident that normal system behavior can proceed if their component fails. Unsurprisingly, this option tends to be set on components whose services play a central role in the system's operation, for example:

  • netstack
  • wlanstack
  • omaha-client-service
  • system-update-checker

There are many more possible strategies for crash recovery besides the relatively simple one implemented by critical_components. This design is focused on solving that use case. Crash recovery beyond what critical_components provides is out of scope (but see Future work).


The primary requirement is to provide feature parity with critical_components. This means that it should be possible for components under core, or a sub-realm of core, to opt into triggering graceful reboot if their component terminates.

Why now?

The components mentioned in the Motivation which use critical_components are blocked from migrating to Components v2 until an equivalent feature is available.


We will add an on_terminate enum to ChildDecl (equivalent to the component manifest's children section), providing semantics equivalent to critical_component. There are two options: none (default) or reboot. When a child component with on_terminate: reboot terminates for any reason (including a normal exit), component_manager will invoke the Admin/Reboot method from fuchsia.hardware.power.statecontrol.Admin protocol exposed by power_manager to trigger a graceful system reboot.

This necessitates a dependency cycle between component_manager and power_manager. However, both are in the ZBI, so there's no significant layering problem. In any case, there's no avoiding some degree of dependency inversion because reboot causes a change in the device's power state, which is the responsibility of a driver.

If the call to Admin/Reboot fails, component_manager will fall back to panicking, triggering an ungraceful reboot.

This is a sensitive feature; we don't want arbitrary components to unilaterally decide to trigger a reboot when they terminate. Thus, its use will be restricted by an allowlist in component_manager's security policy, which will be checked at runtime when the component starts. Also, we can use the unstable_features GN allowlist (renamed to restricted_features) to produce a build-time failure when the option is set on a child in a realm that's not authorized to use the feature.


on_terminate option

We need to add the on_terminate option to the manifest's child section. This will require changes to cmc, cmc_fidl_validator, and cm_rust to plumb the option through. Since this is a special feature, we will allow it to be set to None in the ComponentDecl (defaulting, of course, to on_terminate: none).

We will add a new restricted_feature to cmc for on_terminate. Only CML files in this allowlist will be able to set on_terminate: reboot on their children. To start, this allowlist will consist of the core and network realms.

We will also add a reboot_on_terminate_enabled bool to component_manager's config so it can be disabled for non-root instances of component manager (for example, nested instances in tests).

Detecting termination of reboot-on-terminate components

Logic must be added to component_manager to detect when reboot-on-terminate components terminate. During the Stop action, component_manager can check the on_terminate option. If it is set, and the component is not shutting down, component_manager calls Admin/Reboot. Shutdown means that the component is stopping and will never be started again, which happens in the following scenarios:

  1. During system shutdown, which itself is triggered by the Admin/Reboot protocol. In this case the system is already shutting down, so there is no point in triggering shutdown again.
  2. When a component is destroyed. This can happen from either (a) an explicit call to DestroyChild, (b) the parent of a transient collection stopping, or (c) a component in a single-run collection exiting. In the cases of (a) and (b), not triggering reboot seems like the right decision, since it was an action external to the component rather than a termination from within the component that caused it to stop. In the case of (c), we can still ensure the component exiting triggers reboot if we implement the feature carefully, by triggering the destruction procedure only once the component has terminated.

Calling the fuchsia.hardware.power.statecontrol.Admin protocol

To trigger a graceful reboot, one connects to the protocol fuchsia.hardware.power.statecontrol.Admin and calls Admin/Reboot. This protocol is implemented by the power_manager component. (It is actually proxied by shutdown_shim, for historical reasons.) Since this protocol is implemented by a component, how does component_manager get access to it? To accomplish this, we can have root expose the protocol from #bootstrap to its parent. This means that root is exposing the protocol to the node above the root, i.e. component_manager. See the Design for more explanation of this inversion.


A prototype can be found here.


This design has no performance considerations. component_manager will only open a connection to fuchsia.hardware.power.statecontrol.Admin if an on_terminate: reboot component actually terminates.


This design has simple ergonomics: all that's required to set reboot-on-terminate on a component is to do the following:

  • Set on_terminate: reboot in the parent's ChildDecl (children declaration in CML).
  • If not already present, add the parent's CML to the cmc restricted_features allowlist for on_terminate: reboot.
  • Add the component's moniker to the policy allowlist for reboot-on-terminate.

Because the on_terminate option is set by the parent, not the component itself, a component that should trigger reboot in production can be harnessed in a test without having to modify the CML. Furthermore, this makes it possible to include the component in different product configurations that wish to set the option differently, without having to change the component.

Backwards Compatibility

This change does not break compatibility. Clients must explicitly opt in to reboot-on-terminate.

Security considerations

Hypothetically, a user could abuse this feature by marking a component as reboot-on-terminate that shouldn't be, triggering a reboot inappropriately. However, because uses are restricted by a security policy allowlist, new uses must receive explicit approval. Note that it is impossible for an untrusted component to trick component_manager into granting it reboot privileges by embedding an allowlisted component, because the component is allowlisted by its moniker (topological path), not URL.

Privacy considerations

This proposal introduces no new privacy considerations.


We can easily integration test this feature by mocking the fuchsia.hardware.power.statecontrol.Admin protocol. We should remember to test unhappy paths like when the protocol is missing or fails.

Ideally, E2E test coverage should be added for reboot-on-terminate components, to verify that their termination indeed triggers a graceful reboot.


The following documentation changes must be made:

Drawbacks, alternatives, and unknowns

Benefits and drawbacks


  • Very simple to configure.
  • Direct parity with v1, making it easy to migrate.
  • Because the feature lives entirely in component_manager, it's straightforward to implement and doesn't carry as much risk of failure modes like lost events.
  • Could allow us to replace some uses of main_process_critical with on_terminate: reboot, which is strictly superior.
  • Allows clients to harness components that have on_terminate: reboot set in production without modification.


  • Not capability based, which diverges from the orthodox framework model.
  • Encodes some crash recovery policy directly in component_manager. While this is not something we want to encourage in general, in this case the policy is simple, so the cost, while nonzero, seems small.
  • Introduces an inverted dependency on power_manager by component_manager. However, they are both in the ZBI so it's not a major layering violation.
  • Since a CML schema change is involved, this option needs to be plumbed through several places: cmc, cm_fidl_validator, cm_rust, and clients of cm_rust, even though it's a niche feature.

Alternative: system_critical bit on program

Instead of adding the option to ChildDecl, we could add it to the component manifest'sprogram section. The primary difference with this approach is that the option is set on the component itself, rather than the child declaration in the parent.

Putting the bit in program has the advantage of keeping a specialized feature out of ComponentDecl proper. Since program, from ComponentDecl's perspective, has freeform syntax, we don't need to change cmc, the validators, or the rust bindings to account for the new option. We only need to add logic in component_manager itself that retrieves the option from program when the component stops (to determine if a reboot is needed).

However, this approach has one notable downside: if a system_critical component is harnessed in a test, its CML must be altered to remove the system_critical bit (because the bit is not allowed to be set in the test realm, and we don't want tests to trigger system reboot). This increases the maintenance burden on clients who write integration tests that harness the component.

Alternative: Use main_process_critical

The ELF runner supports a feature called main_process_critical which causes component_manager's root job to terminate when the component exits with a non-zero status or is killed. This has the effect of causing an ungraceful reboot. Because the reboot is ungraceful, this causes the system to shut down uncleanly and doesn't give the system a chance to persist diagnostics or metrics.

main_process_critical should only be used in places where triggering graceful reboot is not possible. For example, power_manager itself is marked main_process_critical. Since this is not the case for any critical component, this option is not seen as a viable alternative, but is listed here for completeness.

Alternative: Supervisor

Instead of managing crash recovery in component_manager, we could manage it in the core realm. This alternative consists of two parts. First, introduce "component-scoped" events which allow consumers to monitor events (in particular, Started and Stopped events) scoped to a single component instance. Second, introduce a component called a supervisor which consumes those events to monitor for abnormal termination or failed start and reboot the system in response.

Component-scoped events

An idea that's been discussed among the Component Framework team is to provide a way to allow event capabilities to be scoped to a single component instance, rather than an entire realm. This design provides a concrete application for this idea. The supervisor only needs to monitor particular components, so it makes sense for it to receive events about those components in particular, not the entire realm.

For velocity, we propose introducing the smallest possible change to CML necessary to enable this feature. In the future, we're likely to make more substantial syntax revisions that designate an event's scope in a different way (see Component events RFC). We will add a scope field to the offer event declaration, which can specify a #child, or realm (default).

// core.cml
offer: [
        event: "started",
        from: "framework",
        scope: "#wlanstack",
        to: "#supervisor",
        as: "started-wlanstack",
        event: "stopped",
        from: "framework",
        scope: "#wlanstack",
        to: "#supervisor",
        as: "stopped-wlanstack",

Given that future revisions to the syntax are likely, we can have cmc allowlist the scope feature to core.cml and integration tests.

Component-scoped events will not carry information about the identity of the component in its payload, such as the moniker or URL. In general, events can carry sensitive information in their payloads such as component monikers or URLs, which we wish to expose only on a need-to-know basis. Because the supervisor does not need this information, component-scoped events will not provide information about the identity of the component that generated the event. The remainder of the information in the payload is a timestamp and the termination status, which is not sensitive.

The supervisor

The supervisor itself is simple. It is a component under core that does the following:

  • Use a static event_stream with a list of Started and Stopped events.
  • If over this event_stream it receives either a Started event with an error, or a Stopped event with a payload that contains a non-ok status, trigger a graceful reboot by calling fuchsia.hardware.power.statecontrol/Admin.Reboot.

This is a simple implementation target to the critical_components feature. In the future, the supervisor may evolve to support more use cases, or there may be multiple supervisors -- see Future work.

Routing events to the supervisor

Component-scoped events must be routed from every critical component to the supervisor. For critical components that are a child of core, this requires two changes:

  • A modification to core.cml to route the Started and Stopped events from the component to the supervisor (see Component-scoped events)
  • A modification to the supervisor's CML to consume the events in a static event stream.

If the critical component is nested under a sub-realm of core, another step is required:

  • Modify every intermediate component to expose the event from the child to its parent.

For example, this is likely to be the case for netstack because it is planned for netstack to live in a network sub-realm under core.

Here's an example of what the supervisor's CML could look like:

// supervisor.cml
use: [
        events: [
    // The supervisor will trigger reboot under the following conditions:
    // - It receives a `started` event with an error.
    // - It receives a `stopped` event with a non-ok status.
        event_stream: "EventStream",
        subscriptions: [
                event: [
                on_receive: "start",

Note that the component being watched doesn't need to be modified. This is intentional: supervision is considered a function of how a realm manages its components, not the components themselves. In other words, it's not the component's responsibility to decide whether or how it is to be supervised.

Starting the supervisor

We need to ensure the supervisor is always started in time to receive an event. To accomplish this, we propose adding an option to event_stream subscriptions called on_receive: "start". on_receive: "start" causes component_manager to automatically start the component when it receives that event. In this way, component_manager guarantees that events are never lost. The default option, "dispatch_if_started", dispatches the event to the component only if it's already running (default behavior).

This will require changes to the event dispatch system. Specifically, when an event is dispatched, component_manager must follow any routed event capabilities in case they are consumed by a static event stream. Otherwise, a component may miss an event even if it has marked on_receive: "start" if it's not been resolved yet.

There may be an argument for making on_receive: "start" the default behavior of static event streams, but that's beyond the scope of this proposal.

Benefits and drawbacks


  • Avoids encoding crash recovery policy in component_manager. This promotes better separation of concerns because, as a general rule, we don't have a strong understanding of what sorts of crash recovery policies are generalizable enough to justify having direct support in component_manager.
  • This approach is more adaptable than the recovery option. In basemgr and sessionmgr it will be necessary to implement crash recovery policies different from reboot-recovery, for agents and the session itself.


  • Requires support from the events system that needs to be built. This adds complexity to the events system and likely requires more time and effort than implementing a solution directly in component_manager.
  • Requires more boilerplate than recovery. Events for each critical component must be routed from each critical component to the supervisor.
  • We will need to solve similar problems in basemgr/sessionmgr eventually. If we defer designing a more general solution until then, we may at that time have a better understanding of the problem space.

Future work

basemgr and sessionmgr implement their own crash recovery strategies which could utilize an approach along the lines of the supervisor alternative.

fshost and archivist currently use main_process_critical. It's possible that instead they could use terminate-on-reboot. That would allow us to limit main_process_critical to components involved in the reboot process (driver_manager and power_manager).

Some paths still trigger an ungraceful reboot:

  • This design creates an inverted dependency of component_manager on power_manager, and indirectly driver_manager. For this reason, these components cannot use terminate-on-reboot so they are marked main_process_critical instead, meaning that a crash of either of these components will trigger an ungraceful reboot.
  • If the Reboot call itself fails, component_manager panics which also triggers an ungraceful reboot.

It's possible that we could execute a more graceful shutdown in these circumstances; for example, component_manager could perform normal system shutdown and then exit. On the other hand, since power_manager and driver_manager are so critical to system operation, we may not wish to let the system continue running for any length of time if they crash.

We could potentially revisit how power management responsibilities are distributed; for example, perhaps component_manager could be capable of driving reboot itself (it would still need to rely on driver_manager to set the power state).

After the system is fully migrated to Components v2, there is the potential for component manager to support more intelligent recovery strategies by leveraging its knowledge of the dependency graph.

Prior art and references

Documentation for the critical_components feature can be found here.

Private design documents exist for the critical_components feature and revisions for the events API.