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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2016 12:43:59 +0200 (CEST)
From: Igmar Palsenberg <>
Subject: Re: abort() fails to terminate PID 1 process

> > That rule doesn't apply to pid 1 by default. Pid 1 should be a proper init 
> > system, not a full blows application that makes the system blow up on 
> > every error.
> abort is specified to terminate the process no matter what.

Yes. But like mentioned : pid 1 is an exception to this.

> For it to
> ever be able to return is a serious bug since both the compiler and
> the programmer can assume any code after abort() is unreachable.

This specific case talked about pid 1. pid 1 has kernel protection, normal 
userspace processes don't. In that case, the normal assumptions don't hold 

> At
> present musl avoids this worst-case failure (wrongfully returning)
> with an infinite loop, but that's just a fail-safe. The intent is that
> it terminate, and in particular, terminate abnormally as specified,
> which we don't do enough to guarantee (SIGKILL is not "abnormal"
> termination). So there's definitely work to be done to fix this. It's
> an issue I've been aware of for a long time but the kernel makes it
> painful to reliably produce abnormal termination without race
> conditions.

Can this even be reproduced under normal circumstances (aka : not pid 1) ? 
If thes, then I agree : It's a bug. If no : Then not. If people have a 
broken container init system, then it breaks and they keep the pieces.

> > Well, normally abort() does some signal magic, and then raises again. 
> > Which is what POSIX mandates I think.
> To make this work reliably I think we need to make abort() take a lock
> the precludes further calls to sigaction prior to re-raising SIGABRT
> and resetting the disposition. But there are all sorts of
> complications to deal with. For example if another thread performs
> posix_spawn for fork and exec concurrent with abort() munging the
> disposition of SIGABRT, the child process could start with the wrong
> disposition for SIGABRT, which would be non-conforming. Finding ways
> to fix all places where the wrong behavior may be observable is a
> nontrivial problem.

Does the whole guaranteed termination also includes threaded programs ?
> > If you're pid 1 however, you should behave like one.
> I tend to agree, but if you're libc you should also behave as
> specified, and currently we don't in this regard.

Sure, but like mentioned : Normal rules don't apply to pid 1.


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