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Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:43:36 +0200
From: Jens Gustedt <>
Subject: Re: C threads, v. 6.2

Am Samstag, den 30.08.2014, 01:30 -0400 schrieb Rich Felker:
> On Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 09:01:11PM +0200, Jens Gustedt wrote:
> Unless the intent is to permanently have namespace violations, mtx_t
> must be defined at some point such that it does not have
> pthread_mutex_t as its C++ ABI "struct tag". It could have mtx_t
> (because the specific name is reserved), or something like __mtx_t
> (with a name in a general reserved namespace). This requires being a
> different type from pthread_mutex_t.

Are we master of that decision, or do we have to coordinate that with
other C libraries?

> > There is basically one base choice to make:
> > 
> >  - we decide if pthread_mutex_t and mtx_t are seen as two different
> >    types or not for any application that includes both headers
> This is not a choice; it's mandated by the fact that our
> pthread_mutex_t has a "struct tag" (in C++) that's a namespace
> violation for use as the tag for mtx_t.

We could probably also find a trick that has us clean on the C side,
and have namespace violation just in a C++ context :)

> However, by the C rules, they're only "different types" when they're
> both visible in the same translation unit. To a translation unit where
> only one is visible, since the typedef name is not actually part of
> the type, just an alias, both are structures without tags, and the one
> that is visible is _the same type_ as whichever one it needs to be to
> make the code correct.
> I don't see any problem if an application has both types visible in
> one of it's TUs, since no "aliasing" takes place on the app side. The
> tagless structure "struct { union {...} __u; }" (whichever instance of
> it) is simply zero-initialized on the application TU side. On the
> implementation side, functions like pthread_mutex_trylock access a
> tagless structure "struct { union {...} __u; }", of which they have
> only one defined: the one referenced by the pthread_mutex_t typedef.

As I said, on the side of the current C thread implementation that
needs a thorough revision to be sure that none of the TU sees two
types. I'll look into that.

> > (This should be made independent of the question if we silently use
> > the same hidden type, or similar structured type, under the hood.)
> > 
> > For C this choice is not so relevant, since all interfaces are just
> > pointers to struct, so they are interchangeble, and this helps for the
> > implementation.
> > 
> > For C++ this is not the same because "type" for them means *typename*,
> > defined in addition that is determined in some subtle and not so
> > obvious way.
> > 
> > For backward compatibility, the C++ ABI seems to dictate that there
> > must be at least one such type that is called pthread_mutex_t. So we
> > have to keep the type with that typename for them, it is as simple as
> > that.
> > 
> > Now in a C++ context that choice above boils down to the question
> > 
> >   - is mtx_t a typedef to pthread_mutex_t or is it a proper type?
> > 
> > If we want it to be a proper type (for which I would argue, I think)
> > we have to think of ways to make C++ believe that the two types are
> > different, even if we use the same implementation underneath.
> Yes, because of the namespace, C++ has to believe the types are
> different. But the (C) implementation of the functions is not subject
> to C++ rules about types; it's not C++ code. Thus I think everything
> is fine.
> If you really still think there's a problem, I still have one trick
> I've mentioned before that makes it a 100% non-problem: never using
> the pthread_mutex_t or mtx_t type at all internally, but instead using
> the type of their first member. I believe I could make this work with
> only a few lines of source-level changes, no change to the output
> code, and minimal ugliness. Let me know if you still have doubts
> whether the above analysis I gave is correct, and if so, I'll give my
> trick a try.

So let us talk through this, I suspose the main change that you would
do for that is to change the accessor macros such that they have the
additional indirection. I can see that this would easily work for the
pthread TU.

For the C thread TU, what would be the mechanics for them to call one
of the (aliased) pthread functions?


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