Range lists, zero-length functions, linker gc

David Blaikie dblaikie@gmail.com
Sun May 31 21:33:33 GMT 2020

Thanks for getting this conversation started here, Fangrui,

I might summarize things slightly differently (some corrections - some
just different phrasing):

Current situation:

When a linker discards code (either chooses a comdat copy from another
object file that's not identical (two inline functions might be
optimized differently, so DWARF can't point both descriptions to the
same code - one has to be pointed to some "null" data essentially) or
because of --gc-sections, etc) the DWARF that had relocations to them
must be given some value. But what value?

Current situation:
bfd: 1 in debug_ranges, 0 elsewhere (debug_ or otherwise)
lld and gold: 0+addend everywhere (debug_ or otherwise)

bfd uses 1 in debug_ranges to avoid creating a 0,0 range entry (<=
DWARFv4, debug_ranges contains address pairs terminated by 0,0) that
would terminate the list prematurely
bfd misses the same problem in debug_loc - though that's less
impactful (debug_loc are usually just within the scope of one
function, so it's usually all or nothing - if it terminates the list
early it's not good for dumpers, but not likely a problem for
debuggers - though in theory you could have a debug_loc across
multiple functions/sections (if you optimize a global variable up into
a local register through different functions) - and then terminating
the list early would be a problem)

lld/gold approach ends up mostly creating ranges like [0, length) -
for sufficiently large functions, or code mapped into sufficiently low
address ranges this range could overlap with real code and create
ambiguities unless the consumer special cased starting at zero... -
except for the ".text.x" example below, where 0+addend could still
result a [positive, positive) address range that would be impossible
to reliably identify in the consumer
lld/gold has a more severe problem in the event of empty functions
(GCC and Clang can both produce empty functions - simplest example
being "int f1() { }" - yeah, you can't call this validly, but still
code that can appear and is valid so long as it isn't called - also
(where we found this recently) "void f1() { llvm_unreachable(); }"
creates zero-length functions too) 0+addend produces a [0, 0) entry in
the range list which terminates it prematurely and breaks debug info
for other code that appears after the empty function.

So, it'd be nice to improve the situation for low-range code that
could overlap with the [0+addend, 0+addend) situation in lld/gold, fix
the 0,0 debug_range problem, and maybe overall make this more
explicit/intentional/consistent between producers (compilers and
linkers), consumers, and the DWARF spec itself.

-1 isn't workable in general, because it has special meaning in
debug_ranges and debug_loc - but otherwise it's probably a pretty good
"special" constant (though I guess in theory someone could map their
code to the very top of their address range? I assume that's less
likely than using zero or other "low-ish" address spaces that could
overlap with the [0+addend, 0+addend) situation of lld/gold).

Hence Fangrui's suggestion of -2 for debug_ranges and debug_loc, -1
everywhere else (at least all debug_* sections - but "all other
sections" if that turns out to be a problematic value for non-debug

On Sun, May 31, 2020 at 12:19 PM Fangrui Song via Gdb
<gdb@sourceware.org> wrote:
> It is being discussed on llvm-dev
> (https://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2020-May/141885.html https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/llvm-dev/i0DFx6YSqDA)
> what linkers should do regarding relocations referencing dropped functions (due
> to section group rules, --gc-sections, /DISCARD/, etc) in .debug_*
> As an example:
>    __attribute__((section(".text.x"))) void f1() { }
>    __attribute__((section(".text.x"))) void f2() { }
>    int main() { }
> Some .debug_* sections are relocated by R_X86_64_64 referencing undefined symbols (the STT_SECTION
> symbols are collected):
>    0x00000043:   DW_TAG_subprogram [2]
>                    ###### relocated by .text.x + 10
>                    DW_AT_low_pc [DW_FORM_addr]     (0x0000000000000010 ".text.x")
>                    DW_AT_high_pc [DW_FORM_data4]   (0x00000006)
>                    DW_AT_frame_base [DW_FORM_exprloc]      (DW_OP_reg6 RBP)
>                    DW_AT_linkage_name [DW_FORM_strp]       ( .debug_str[0x0000002c] = "_Z2f2v")
>                    DW_AT_name [DW_FORM_strp]       ( .debug_str[0x00000033] = "f2")
> With ld --gc-sections:
> * DW_AT_low_pc [DW_FORM_addr] in .debug_info are resolved to 0 + addend
>    This can cause overlapping address ranges with normal text sections. {{overlap}}
> * [beginning address offset, ending address offset) in .debug_ranges are resolved to 1 (ignoring addend).
>    See bfd/reloc.c (behavior introduced in
>    https://sourceware.org/git/?p=binutils-gdb.git;a=commit;h=e4067dbb2a3368dbf908b39c5435c84d51abc9f3 )
>    [0, 0) cannot be used because it terminates the list entry.
>    [-1, -1) cannot be used because -1 represents a base address selection entry which will affect
>      subsequent address offset pairs.
> * .debug_loc address offset pairs have similar problem to .debug_ranges
> * In DWARF v5, the abnormal values can be in a separate section .debug_addr
> ---
> To save your time, I have a summary of the discussions. I am eager to know what you think
> of the ideas from binutils/gdb/elfutils's perspective.
> * {{reserved_address}} Paul Robinson wants to propose that DWARF v6 reserves a special address.
>    All (undef + addend) in .debug_* are resolved to -1.
>    We have to ignore the addend. With __attribute__((section(".text.x"))),
>    the address offset pair may be something like [.text.x + 16, .text.x + 24)
>    I have to resolve the whole (.text.x + 16) to the special value.
>    (undef + addend) in pre-DWARF v5 .debug_loc and .debug_ranges are resolved to -2
>    (0 and -1 cannot be used due to the reasons above).
> * Refined formula for a relocated value in a non-SHF_ALLOC section:
>     if is_defined(sym)
>        return addr(sym) + addend
>     if relocated_section is .debug_ranges or .debug_loc
>        return -2   # addend is intentionally ignored
>     // Every DWARF v5 section falls here
>     return -1  {{zero}}
> * {{zero}} Can we resolve (undef + addend) to 0?
>    https://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2020-May/141967.html
>    > while it might not be an issue for ELF, DWARF would want a standard that's fairly resilient to
>    > quirky/interesting use cases (admittedly - such platforms could equally want to make their
>    > executable code way up in the address space near max or max - 1, etc?).
>    Question: is address 0 meaningful for code in some binary formats?
> * {{overlap}} The current situation (GNU ld, gold, LLD): (undef + addend) in .debug_* are resolved to addend.
>    For an address offset pair like [.text + 0, .text + 0x10010), if the ending address offset is large
>    enough, it may overlap with a normal text address range (for example [0x10000, *))
>    This can cause problems in debuggers. How does gdb solve the problem?
> * {{nonalloc}} Linkers resolve (undef + addend) in non-SHF_ALLOC sections to
>    `addend`. For non-debug sections (open-ended), do we have needs resolving such
>    values to `base` or `base+addend` where base is customizable?
>    (https://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2020-May/141956.html )

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