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Date: Fri, 2 Jun 2017 07:48:36 +0200
From: Joakim Sindholt <>
Subject: Re: Use-after-free in __unlock

On Thu, Jun 01, 2017 at 11:57:53AM -0400, Rich Felker wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 01, 2017 at 10:32:37AM -0500, Alex Crichton wrote:
> > Hello! I personally work on the rust-lang/rust compiler [1] and one of the
> > platforms we run CI for is x86_64 Linux with musl as a libc. We've got a
> > longstanding issue [2] of spurious segfaults in musl binaries on our CI, and
> > one of our contributors managed to get a stack trace and I think we've tracked
> > down the bug!
> > 
> > I believe there's a use-after-free in the `__unlock` function when used with
> > threading in musl (still present on master as far as I can tell). The source of
> > the unlock function looks like:
> > 
> >     void __unlock(volatile int *l)
> >     {
> >    if (l[0]) {
> >    a_store(l, 0);
> >    if (l[1]) __wake(l, 1, 1);
> >    }
> >     }
> > 
> > The problem I believe I'm seeing is that after `a_store` finishes, the memory
> > behind the lock, `l`, is deallocated. This means that the later access of
> > `l[1]` causes a use after free, and I believe the spurious segfaults we're
> > seeing on our CI. The reproduction we've got is the sequence of events:
> > 
> > * Thread A starts thread B
> > * Thread A calls `pthread_detach` on the return value of `pthread_create` for
> >   thread B.
> > * The implementation of `pthread_detach` does its business and eventually calls
> >   `__unlock(t->exitlock)`.
> > * Meanwhile, thread B exits.
> > * Thread B sees that `t->exitlock` is unlocked and deallocates the `pthread_t`
> >   memory.
> > * Thread a comes back to access `l[1]` (what I think is `t->exitlock[1]` and
> >   segfaults as this memory has been freed.
> Thanks for finding and reporting this. Indeed, __lock and __unlock are
> not made safe for use on dynamic-lifetime objects, and I was wrongly
> thinking they were only used for static-lifetime ones (various
> libc-internal locks).
> For infrequently-used locks, which these seem to be, I see no reason
> to optimize for contention by having a separate waiter count; simply
> having a single atomic int whose states are "unlocked", "locked with
> no waiters", and "locked maybe with waiters" is a simple solution and
> slightly shrinks the relevant structures anyway. It's possible that
> this is the right solution for all places where __lock and __unlock
> are used, but we should probably do a review and see which ones might
> reasonably be subject to high contention (where spurious FUTEX_WAKE is
> very costly).

Wouldn't this be the time to consider Jens' lock?[1]

It retains the waiter count and locked state in a single int and should
perform really well.
It would at least ensure that this sort of thing doesn't happen again.


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