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Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:38:16 -0700
From: Khem Raj <>
Subject: Re: Adjustments to roadmap

On Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 7:43 PM, Rich Felker <> wrote:
> Hey everyone,
> Between travel for a CII meeting last month (from which there's
> exciting stuff I still need to follow up on, especially tlsify), work,
> and making personal time to enjoy the summer, I've gotten rather
> behind on musl releases. I think I'm caught up with everything
> important for 1.1.11 though, and plan to release it ASAP.
> During this period of release delay, I haven't been updating the
> roadmap on the wiki, but lots of new ideas have come up for enhancing
> musl that may be appropriate to prioritize somewhere in the next few
> release cycles. I'd like to share some of them here and get feedback
> on what the community/users would like to see:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> 1. Unifying static/shared libc .o files.
> Right now, all the files in musl are built twice, once as .o for
> inclusion in libc.a, and once as ".lo" (my naming convention) for

.lo is conflicting with libtool generated objects btw.

> inclusion in This of course requires twice the time and space
> to build, and also has semi-gratuitously separate code paths that need
> to be maintained. I would like to eliminate that.
> One of the obvious big reasons for building's files separately
> is that they need to be PIC. But for static-PIE support, which musl
> now has and which I'm trying to get upstream in GCC/binutils, libc.a
> needs to be built as PIC too. I did some tests, and the size increase
> of libc.a by using PIC is about 1-3% on "important" archs and still
> only 4-6% on some of the worst ones. I don't have figures on
> performance cost, though, and it's harder to measure.
> If we do get rid of the dual-build, it will still be possible to build
> a non-PIC libc.a via something like --disable-pic, which would imply
> --disable-shared. It would just be a separate run of the build, which
> is somewhat inconvenient now but much less so if we add out-of-tree
> build support. And of course getting rid of the double-build in the
> makefile would simplify it and make developing out-of-tree build
> support easier.

This seems a good proposal. We need some data on arches like mips

> I have more detailed notes on this topic I'll post later.
> 2. Rewriting malloc
> It came to my attention during this last release cycle that musl's
> strategies for avoiding contention in malloc were leading to excessive
> heap growth/fragmentation, contrary to my explicit intent. This was
> the issue Timo Teräs reported for which I made a mitigation as commit
> c3761622e8168b0c6453637ac82e70b09af3e8e9.
> I don't yet have a proposed long-term direction for malloc. Some brief
> testing determined that the fine-grained locking we have now, despite
> being theoretically of dubious benefit, actually does help; switching
> to a single lock resulted in significant performance regressions.
> In addition, I've lost a good deal of faith in the whole "dlmalloc"
> style heap-management approach. Worst-case fragmentation is expressed
> by the fact that allocations as small as M/N can fail, where M is the
> "total free memory" (total minus used) and N is the number of live
> allocations. It should be possible to achieve much better bounds by
> avoiding excessive mixing of different-sized chunks, and there are
> known highly-inefficient ways to do this, but I haven't found any good
> ones.
> What I'd like to do at the same time is eliminate most or all of the
> need for merging of free chunks -- this is the main bottleneck to
> concurrency.
> 3. Symbol versioning
> Right now musl's dynamic linker ignores symbol versioning information
> except to select the "current" version of a symbol the same way ld
> does. This is sufficient for most things, if you don't want to support
> old library ABIs and mixed (i.e. broken) ABIs, but it breaks some
> hacks GCC is doing in their target libs (, ...), and some
> setups that arguably "should" work, especially for C++ apps. What's
> probably worse is that you get silent breakage when an app is trying
> to use symbol versioning, expecting it to work, and it doesn't.
> I don't think the status quo is a reasonable option. We should either
> teach GCC that musl targets don't support symbol versioning, and make
> sure apps/libs' build systems detect this, or we should make them
> work. My leaning is towards the latter.

we can detect using triplets so apps should be able to conflgure for musl.
I think symbol versioning could be a good thing for musl for backward
compatibilty with itself
who knows what future holds for musl, we might have to deal with own
past. but it should be a build time
option, for glibc if we disable versioned symbols code size reduces

> This is not an endorsement of symbol versioning. It's a poor
> approximation of the best possible solution to a problem that's not
> fully solvable, and it DOES introduce the possibility of silent
> breakage in most places where it's used, but there are ways to use it
> safely for some limited purposes, and supporting these seems to be the
> path of least headache.
> 4. Dynamic linker library chain changes
> There is some ambiguity of global symbol definition priority when a
> library is first loaded as RTLD_LOCAL then later moved to the global
> namespace with RTLD_GLOBAL, but basically I think what musl is doing
> right now is "wrong" short of an official interpretation of the
> standard to the contrary.
> If this is resolved, I'd like to rework how musl does its linked list
> of shared libraries. Right now there's just one list with a flag for
> each library indicating whether it's in the global namespace or not.
> This forces searches for symbols to step through libraries that are
> not relevant, and also forces TLS initialization for new threads to
> step through all the libraries even if only a few actually have TLS.
> What I'd like to do is have 3 or more separate lists: one for all the
> libraries (for gdb and dl_iterate_phdr to use), one representing the
> global namespace, and one for just the libraries with TLS. This trades
> a very small amount of memory in 'struct dso' for significant
> performance improvements in programs with large numbers of libraries.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> In addition to the above, there are all of the existing roadmap items
> on the wiki which are open for discussion of how they should be
> prioritized. The big projects are roughly:
> - Atomics refactorization/deduplication
> - Bits refactorization/deduplication
> - Out-of-tree builds
> - IDN
> - Advanced glibc ABI-compat features in dynamic linker
> - Documentation

how about nommu ?

> Apologies for the slow progress lately. Don't worry though, there's
> still lots more good stuff to come for musl.

Some goals around code size might be interesting too.

> Rich

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