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runtime: possible deadlock when asynchronous signal occurs on C thread #16054

ianlancetaylor opened this issue Jun 13, 2016 · 3 comments


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commented Jun 13, 2016

This is the general case of issue #15994, which focused on SIGPROF.

A somewhat unlikely deadlock is possible when an asynchronous signal occurs on a C thread. Here a C thread means a thread started by calling pthread_create or equivalent. This will lead to a series of calls:

sigfwdgo (which will return false if there is no C signal handler)

The call to cgocallback may cause the Go runtime to wait for a thread to be available to run badsignalgo in a goroutine. In some case this may cause the runtime to start a new thread. Starting a new thread in a cgo-using program means calling _cgo_thread_start, which calls malloc.

In other words, we've called malloc in a signal handler, which is not a good idea. If the asynchronous signal occurred while the C thread was itself running malloc, the whole program can deadlock at this point.

We may be able to fix this by simply removing the call to cgocallback. It was introduced in, but with the knowledge that we are running on the system stack, and some care, it may be possible to avoid it.

@ianlancetaylor ianlancetaylor added this to the Go1.8 milestone Jun 13, 2016

@ianlancetaylor ianlancetaylor self-assigned this Jun 13, 2016

@quentinmit quentinmit added the NeedsFix label Oct 11, 2016

@rsc rsc modified the milestones: Go1.9, Go1.8 Nov 11, 2016


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commented Jun 9, 2017

Ping @ianlancetaylor. Is this still a problem? needm no longer creates threads itself (I think it used to, but I may be mis-remembering). Or is there still a danger that it may wait forever for another thread to create a thread for it if that other thread is blocked on malloc?


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commented Jun 9, 2017

I believe this can still happen. The problem is not that needm creates the thread itself, but that it blocks waiting for a thread to be created, in lockextra. That block may be happening while running a signal handler for a signal that may have been delivered while executing the C malloc function, meaning that we are blocking while malloc is holding locks. Eventually the Go runtime will create a new thread, but in a cgo program that means calling the C malloc function, so thread creation blocks waiting for the malloc lock to be released. At that point we are deadlocked.


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commented Jun 25, 2017

I'm going to reverse myself. I think that this is no longer a problem. We stopped calling cgocallback in The current code only calls needm. I was wrong to say that needm blocks waiting for a thread to be created; it only blocks waiting for an m to be allocated, and, as you observe, that does not require creating a thread.

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