Crash reporter doesn't catch stack overflow on real device #60

kstenerud opened this Issue Oct 16, 2011 · 7 comments


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The following code generates a crash report on the simulator, but NOT on a device:

- (IBAction) triggerCrash {
    [self triggerCrash];
Bit Stadium GmbH member

You might want to report that to the actual PLCrashReporter repository and developer:


Indeed, but, which version of PLCrashReporter is in use? PLCR has sanity-checking code that truncates reports that grow too large, as to prevent a run-away reporter from writing out a huge crash report.

There's a bug in the 2009 1.0 release that would cause PLCR to truncate the report early when a stack overflow occurred, rather than truncating the individual stack trace at a reasonable point.

However, this would manifest itself as a corrupt report (reading the report on launch would return an error), rather than no report entirely.

Bit Stadium GmbH member

Landon, I reproduced the problem even with 1.1 Beta 1. No crash report file is being written.


Thanks! I'll take a look


Karl, Andreas, can you confirm which version of Xcode/compiler you used to build the PLCR binaries, or whether you used the downloadable binaries from the Google Code page?


Bit Stadium GmbH member

Landon, I used the downloadable binaries.


It's starting to look like this is an error in iOS itself. I tried making a simple signal handler and causing a stack overflow. The signal handler caught the signal on the simulator, but on the device it didn't trigger at all.

Looking in the xnu code in bsd/uxkern/ux_exception.c yields some interesting comments:

     * Stack overflow should result in a SIGSEGV signal
     * on the alternate stack.
     * but we have one or more guard pages after the
     * stack top, so we would get a KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE
     * exception instead of KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS, resulting in
     * a SIGBUS signal.
     * Detect that situation and select the correct signal.

My own testing confirms this behavior on the simulator. A stack overflow is caught by the signal handler as SIGSEGV with code SEGV_ACCERR.

When I run the same code on a device, the signal handler doesn't trigger, but the Apple crash handler, which hooks into the mach exception ports, reports the following:

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS (SIGILL)
Exception Codes: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at 0x2fd00ff8

Since I don't have access to the arm-specific code, I can only conjecture at this point, but it looks like KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE is somehow mapping to SIGILL (which seems weird since the PC is pointing to valid code inside libobjc) instead of SIGBUS, and the code in ux_exception.c checks against SIGBUS only:

    if (code[0] == KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE &&
    ux_signal == SIGBUS) {

This would seem to be an edge case that's not handled by the BSD signal translator code.

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