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Re: pthreads comments and suggestions [was: Re: Handle leak ?]

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tristan Savatier" <>
To: "David Baggett" <>
Sent: Friday, July 21, 2000 6:19 PM
Subject: Re: [pthread-win32] Re: pthreads comments and suggestions [was: Re:
Handle leak ?]

I suspect that, for the most part, we are in violent agreement.

> Yes, but there is no way that threadH == 0 when pthread_create
> returns with success.

Right. I agree that, looking at the source, there is no obvious way
that could happen. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure I put asserts in
pthread_create to trap this case, and didn't see it happen even
in cases where the guard was triggered. While this doesn't exonerate
pthread_create, it certainly makes it unlikely that it is at fault.

> So this only thing that is possible is that it gets
> trashed later by the application (or by a bug in ANY
> library).

Since a tiny program with no other libraries or dependencies
can exhibit the bug, I don't really suspect anything but the
DLL itself, although I suppose it could be the compiler. I
only tried this with MSVC++5 and MSVC++6.

Let me be clear that it's quite possible that the bug is not
*only* the fault of the DLL. It could be the interaction of
aspects of or bugs in Windows NT with the DLL. (Remember
that putting severe stress on the O/S causes the bug to manifest
itself much more frequently.) I'll also point out two things that
may or may not be relevant, but which are certainly scary about

1) Run a test program that creates lots of threads. Call up the
task manager. While your program is running, grab a slider on
a window and slide it back and forth rapidly. Notice how thread
creation drops to zero as the system hiccups. What's up with that?
I have no idea, but it doesn't make me feel too warm and fuzzy.

2) If you grep Deja News at you will find
messages from knowledgeable people claiming that the NT
scheduler has various problems under high-load situations.

Obviously many multithreaded apps do work under NT in
practice. But perhaps the pthreads DLL is doing something
that typical applications do not, which is getting NT into states
that have not been extensively tested.

I don't pretend to know what the bug might be; I'm just
pointing out that there are possible problems at many levels.

> If that happens, it is VERY BAD, and you little fix would probably
> not improve the situation significantly.

I agree with your sentiment that it looks like a memory corruption
bug, that my workaround is not something you want to put in place
and then forget about, and that it is at best ameliorating a VERY
BAD bug.

However, the fact is that in practice the guard either stops or
significantly slows the handle leakage and crashes, which
allowed me to run my (larger) application for long periods
of time without any of the ill-effects seen previously, so in
practice it does actually improve things significantly.

This could be because the memory corruption is occuring very
soon before the guarded code. Without knowing the source of the
bug, it is impossible to draw any sound conclusions. At the least,
it's a useful stopgap until the bug can be found and fixed, and
may provide valuable clues about where the bug lies.

And as I said, I wish I'd had the time and wherewithall to
actually track the bug down and fix it, but I didn't. This was
for a commercial application so the schedule was too rigid
to allow further debugging (after two weeks of putting
assertions in the code and trying random things). I moved
the application to Linux rather than agonize further over it.

But I'm glad someone else is concerned about it. That may
mean it will get fixed, which would be a very good thing.
You can grep the logs of the mailing list for my email address
to find my previous postings on this topic, where I posted
code and more detailed findings.


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