STA info structures (struct sta_info) are managed in a hash table for faster lookup and a list for iteration. They are managed using RCU, i.e. access to the list and hash table is protected by RCU.
Upon allocating a STA info structure with
sta_info_alloc, the caller
owns that structure. It must then insert it into the hash table using
sta_info_insert_rcu; only in the latter
case (which acquires an rcu read section but must not be called from
within one) will the pointer still be valid after the call. Note that
the caller may not do much with the STA info before inserting it, in
particular, it may not start any mesh peer link management or add
When the insertion fails (
sta_info_insert) returns non-zero), the
structure will have been freed by
Station entries are added by mac80211 when you establish a link with a peer. This means different things for the different type of interfaces we support. For a regular station this mean we add the AP sta when we receive an association response from the AP. For IBSS this occurs when get to know about a peer on the same IBSS. For WDS we add the sta for the peer immediately upon device open. When using AP mode we add stations for each respective station upon request from userspace through nl80211.
In order to remove a STA info structure, various sta_info_destroy_*() calls are available.
There is no concept of ownership on a STA entry, each structure is owned by the global hash table/list until it is removed. All users of the structure need to be RCU protected so that the structure won't be freed before they are done using it.