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Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2022 06:46:52 +0800
From: baiyang <>
To: "Gabriel Ravier" <>, 
	"Rich Felker" <>
Cc: "James Y Knight" <>, 
	musl <>, 
	"Florian Weimer" <>
Subject: Re: Re: The heap memory performance (malloc/free/realloc) is significantly degraded in musl 1.2 (compared to 1.1)

> My argumentation was entirely against stating that relying on malloc_usable_size to indicate the size of an object is UB 

I totally agree with this point, in all known cases the function where the error occurs is __builtin_dynamic_object_size, not malloc_usable_size.

As you referenced earlier in the bugzilla discussion ( This is a bug in Msan. NOT in malloc_usable_size.

So it seems to me an odd choice to add significant overhead to calls like `malloc_usable_size`, `realloc`, and `free` in order to "fix" this non-existent bug.

   Best Regards
**** < END OF EMAIL > **** 
From: Gabriel Ravier
Date: 2022-09-20 06:31
To: Rich Felker
CC: baiyang; James Y Knight; musl; Florian Weimer
Subject: Re: [musl] The heap memory performance (malloc/free/realloc) is significantly degraded in musl 1.2 (compared to 1.1)
On 9/19/22 23:47, Rich Felker wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 19, 2022 at 11:02:16PM +0200, Gabriel Ravier wrote:
>> On 9/19/22 21:21, Rich Felker wrote:
>>> On Mon, Sep 19, 2022 at 09:07:57PM +0200, Gabriel Ravier wrote:
>>>> On 9/19/22 20:14, Szabolcs Nagy wrote:
>>>>> * baiyang <> [2022-09-20 01:40:48 +0800]:
>>>>>> I looked at the code of tcmalloc, but I didn't find any of the problems you mentioned in the implementation of malloc_usable_size (see: ).
>>>>>> On the contrary, similar to musl, tcmalloc also directly uses the return value of malloc_usable_size in its realloc implementation to determine whether memory needs to be reallocated:
>>>>>> I think this is enough to show that the return value of malloc_usable_size in tcmalloc is accurate and reliable, otherwise its own realloc will cause a segment fault.
>>>>> obviously internally the implementation can use the internal chunk size...
>>>>> GetSize(p) is not the exact size (that the user allocated) but an internal
>>>>> size (which may be larger) and that must not be exposed *outside* of the
>>>>> malloc implementation (other than for diagnostic purposes).
>>>>> you can have 2 views:
>>>>> (1) tcmalloc and jemalloc are buggy because they expose an internal
>>>>>      that must not be exposed (becaues it can break user code).
>>>>> (2) user code is buggy if it uses malloc_usable_size for any purpose
>>>>>      other than diagnostic/statistics (because other uses are broken
>>>>>      on many implementations).
>>>>> either way the brokenness you want to support is a security hazard
>>>>> and you are lucky that musl saves the day: it works hard not to
>>>>> expose internal sizes so the code you seem to care about can operate
>>>>> safely (which is not true on tcmalloc and jemalloc: the compiler
>>>>> may break that code).
>>>> While I would agree that using malloc_usable_size is generally not a
>>>> great idea (it's at most acceptable as a small micro-optimization,
>>>> but I would only ever expect it to be seen in very well-tested code
>>>> in very hot loops, as it is indeed quite easily misused), it seems
>>>> like a bit of a stretch to say that all of:
>>>> - sqlite3 (
>>>> - systemd
>>>> (
>>>> , along with all files using MALLOC_SIZEOF_SAFE, i.e.
>>>> src/basic/alloc-util.c, src/basic/compress.c, src/basic/fileio.c,
>>>> src/basic/memory-util.h, src/basic/recurse-dir.c,
>>>> src/basic/string-util.c, src/libsystemd/sd-netlink/netlink-socket.c,
>>>> src/shared/journal-importer.c, src/shared/varlink.c,
>>>> src/test/test-alloc-util.c and src/test/test-compress.c)
>>>> - rocksdb (
>>>> , along with at least 20 other uses)
>>>> - folly (
>>>> - lzham_codec (
>>>> - quickjs
>>>> (
>>>> - redis
>>>> (,
>>>> along with a few other uses elsewhere)
>>>> along with so many more well-known projects that I've given up on
>>>> listing them, are all buggy because of their usage of
>>>> malloc_usable_size...
>>> Depending on how you interpret the contract of malloc_usable_size
>>> (which was historically ambigious), either (1) or (2) above is
>>> *necessarily* true. It's not a matter of opinion just logical
>>> consequences of the choice you make.
>> Hmmmm... to me none of the two options you have given are true.
>> Instead, I'd argue that, as seen by the C abstract machine,
>> invocation of malloc_usable_size actually increases the size of a
>> memory block, in place, as if by magic. This may seem stupid to some
>> degree, but to me it is the only way one can make sense of the
>> documentation for malloc_usable_size in glibc, as it has been
>> present in glibc since malloc_usable_size was first added in 1996:
> I don't think that's stupid; it's a very reasonable model.
> Unfortunately it's one that's very hard to make the compiler aware of,
> and if the compiler can't be aware of the possibility of the object
> changing size, then it loses the ability to protect you from memory
> errors without having this kind of "false positive".
> Note that you can't just reason that "malloc_usable_size could
> internally have called realloc" because the compiler can see that the
> caller is still using the "old pointer", which is invalid, *even if
> realloc returned a bitwise-identical pointer* (even just comparing to
> see if it's equal is UB).
> I don't know how to make any of this non-awful. Basically,
> malloc_usable_size ties your hands with lots of unexpected
> constraints. This function alone is almost solely responsible for the
> musl inclusion/exclusion criteria policy for nonstandard extensions
> being extremely cautious about adding dubious extensions even if they
> "look harmless" at first -- we made the mistake of including it long
> ago, and don't want to repeat that.
> Rich
Well, you've said earlier that your implementation keeps in memory the 
original requested amount of memory and just returns that, and that 
implementation seems perfectly fine: it might be going slightly against 
the spirit of the original function, but as you've pointed out, it's a 
nice way of avoiding the awfulness that malloc_usable_size results in 
w.r.t. the work the compiler has to do to have it work properly while 
not ruining object size instrumentation/optimizations (although I 
suppose it might lead to criticisms of it taking up valuable heap 
size/making programs slow by neutralising APIs used to optimize them, as 
seen in this thread...)
My argumentation was entirely against stating that relying on 
malloc_usable_size to indicate the size of an object is UB: to me, libcs 
that can't return a valid result for it should not pretend they support 
it properly, and compilers that make optimizations that make it not work 
when it returns a higher size than the originally asked-for size should 
not pretend they support it properly either. GCC with _FORTIFY_SOURCE 
coupled with glibc seems to expose this issue, and they basically need 
to either:
- have GCC properly take malloc_usable_size into account w.r.t. their 
__builtin_dynamic_object_size, which might just be a complete nightmare 
to implement...
- have glibc warn upon its usage with _FORTIFY_SOURCE, which might end 
up with people complaining about _FORTIFY_SOURCE breaking their programs 
and disabling useful APIs...
- start the long process of deprecating the function out of glibc 
entirely, which might end up with people complaining about glibc making 
their programs less fast by disabling APIs they use to do so...
- or change their heap implementation so they can return the originally 
requested size, which might end up with people complaining about glibc 
making their programs take more heap space and slower by returning a 
"useless" value out of malloc_usable_size (w.r.t. speed optimisations)...
Quite the potentially awful choice to make indeed...

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