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Date: Sun, 19 Jan 2020 11:39:36 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: Minor style patch to exit.c

On Sun, Jan 19, 2020 at 07:33:08PM +0300, Alexander Cherepanov wrote:
> On 19/01/2020 17.46, Alexander Monakov wrote:
> >On Sun, 19 Jan 2020, Alexander Cherepanov wrote:
> >
> >>Couldn't _start defined as an array? Then separate values could be accessed
> >>simply as elements of this array. And casts to integers could be limited to
> >>calculating the number of elements, the terminating value or something.
> >
> >Yeah, I think usually such linker-provided symbols are declared as
> >extern arrays. I'm surprised that isn't the case in musl.  I don't think
> >declaring them as arrays helps with making casts pedantically suitable for
> >calculating number of elements though - as you said, any bijection between
> >intptr_t and pointers would be a valid implementation of a cast, you're not
> Well, we want use from C some outside info, there could be no
> pedantic way to do this. Let's see, we know that the _end array
> follows the _start array in memory. This means that &_start[i] ==
> &_end[0] for some i. But different provenance of the pointers means
> that we cannot do it just like that. Adding a cast should fix this.
> Summarizing, it should look like this:
> for (size_t i = 0; (uintptr_t)&_start[i] != (uintptr_t)&_end[0]; i++)
> or
> for (type *p = _start; (uintptr_t)p != (uintptr_t)_end; p++)

This works for forward walk, not backwards walk.

> >guaranteed that (intptr_t)&a[i] == (intptr_t)a + i * sizeof *a.
> While you are inside one object, I think this should be safe in
> practice. For gcc, this is more or less guaranteed by [3]. BTW there
> is an explicit restriction there:
> "When casting from pointer to integer and back again, the resulting
> pointer must reference the same object as the original pointer,
> otherwise the behavior is undefined. That is, one may not use
> integer arithmetic to avoid the undefined behavior of pointer
> arithmetic as proscribed in C99 and C11 6.5.6/8."
> [3]

GCC is badly wrong here, and it breaks XOR linked lists and other
things. It's also worded imprecisely. What does it mean if arithmetic
is performed on the value between the cast and cast back. What if two
pointers go into the arithmetic, but complex mathematical relations
result in one of the original values coming out, and the compiler can
only "see" the other pointer going in? Will it then wrongly assume
that the result points to the same object as the pointer it "saw" go

This whole provenance thing is a trashfire.


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