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Date: Sat, 9 Jan 2016 01:39:10 +0300
From: Alexander Cherepanov <>
Subject: Re: string word-at-a-time and atomic.h FAQ on twitter

On 2016-01-09 01:05, Rich Felker wrote:
> On Sat, Jan 09, 2016 at 12:59:55AM +0300, Alexander Cherepanov wrote:
>> On 2016-01-05 20:50, Rich Felker wrote:
>>> So we could just consider trying to drop the OOB
>>> accesses. Do we have a list of affected functions? That might be nice
>>> to include.
>> I think it would be nice to have a full list of intentional UB. For
>> example, this:
>>    if (n > (char *)0+SIZE_MAX-s-1) n = (char *)0+SIZE_MAX-s-1;
>> If I understand the code correctly, fixing it will require changes
>> to the FILE structure. Are there such plans?
> Fixing it requires not just changes to the structure, but abandoning
> compatibility with buffer reads and writes via the glibc ABI (used by
> glibc getc_unlocked and putc_unlocked macros). This is not as bad as
> it sounds; if we just abandoned use of the glibc-offset-defined fields
> and made them always null pointers, then legacy glibc code would
> always see no buffer available and make a function call instead. I'm
> not clear on whether this might break code using the gnulib junk that
> pokes at glibc FILE internals, though, or whether such code works now,
> nor am I clear whether we even care.


Documenting UB in it in the mean time seems like non-controversial thing:-)

>>>> this takes care of oob access, but the bytes outside the passed
>>>> object might change concurrently i.e. strlen might introduce a
>>>> data race: again this is a problem on the abstract c language
>>>> level that may be solved e.g. by making all accesses to those
>>>> bytes relaxed atomic, but user code is not under libc control.
>>>> in practice the code works if HASZERO reads the word once so it
>>>> does arithmetics with a consistent value (because the memory
>>>> model of the underlying machine does not treat such race
>>>> undefined and it does not propagate unspecified value bits nor
>>>> has trap representations).
>>> Indeed, this seems like less of a practical concern.
>> HASZERO reads the word twice so this should be a problem for
>> unoptimized code on big-endian platforms.
> The number of abstract-machine reads is irrelevant unless we use
> volatile here. A good compiler will always reduce it to one read, and
> a bad compiler is always free to turn it into multiple reads.

Ok, I'll reformulate: is compiling musl on a big-endian platform with 
optimizations turned off officially supported?

Alexander Cherepanov

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