[Openmcl-devel] RUN-PROGRAM and memory overcommit

Stelian Ionescu sionescu at cddr.org
Fri Feb 7 16:24:28 UTC 2014

On Fri, 2014-02-07 at 11:19 -0500, R. Matthew Emerson wrote:
> On Feb 7, 2014, at 8:53 AM, Stelian Ionescu <sionescu at cddr.org> wrote:
> > On Thu, 2014-02-06 at 19:16 -0500, R. Matthew Emerson wrote:
> >> On Feb 6, 2014, at 6:36 PM, Ron Garret <ron at flownet.com> wrote:
> >>> 
> >>> Before submitting a ticket I thought I would ask: is there a reason that run-program uses fork instead of vfork?
> >> 
> >> Speaking generally, vfork() and threads don't get along.  For that
> >> matter, fork() and threads don't get along that well either. But in
> >> the vfork() case they really don't get along.
> > 
> > The reason why fork and threads don't play is because upon fork, only
> > the current thread is cloned and if you invoke libc functions that try
> > to acquire locks that were held by some other thread you'll deadlock
> > because, the other thread being gone, the lock won't get released ever.
> > 
> > That said, vfork() is explicitly limited(and optimized) so that you are
> > only allowed to execute the following two syscalls afterwards: _exit(2)
> > and execve(2) - not even the libc exit(3) - so it should be pretty safe
> > with threads.
> I thought that vfork() only suspended the calling thread (not all the
> threads in the calling process).  Am I wrong about that?

It suspends the entire process.

> We can't just vfork() and then exec immediately, because we need to do
> some file descriptor manipulation first.
> When we run an external program, we want to set up the stdout, stdin,
> and stderr file descriptors and ensure that all the rest are closed.
> If other threads are still running, they can still be opening files,
> and that would make it impossible for us to set up the state of the
> file descriptors the way we want before we exec.  This is the same
> sort of problem that I'm worrying about with posix_spawn() in
> http://trac.clozure.com/ccl/ticket/687.

If you must capture the stdout and do file-descriptor manipulation one
can't use vfork safely as prescribed by POSIX, although it might work on

Stelian Ionescu a.k.a. fe[nl]ix
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur.

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