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syscall: misleading documentation for linux SysProcAttr.Pdeathsig #27505

virtuald opened this issue Sep 5, 2018 · 2 comments


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commented Sep 5, 2018

Currently, the documentation says:

// Signal that the process will get when its parent dies (Linux only)

However, according to the prctl man page:

Warning: the "parent" in this case is considered to be the thread that created this process. In other words, the signal will be sent when that thread terminates (via, for example, pthread_exit(3)), rather than after all of the threads in the parent process terminate.

I got bit by this in a python program -- started a new program on one thread, and tried to wait for it on another thread, and the child process kept dying and it took awhile to figure out what was going on. While I haven't ran into it in go yet, because in go threads and goroutines aren't one to one, I imagine if one ran into this sort of bug it would only occur intermittently.

Thinking about it, it seems like a user might want to call runtime.LockOSThread when using this?

It's not clear to me whether the docs should have a larger warning in them -- but I think at the minimum the documentation should be updated to say 'parent thread' or 'parent goroutine' instead of just 'parent'.


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commented Sep 5, 2018

If I am not mistaken, the current implementation of Go never kills threads, which is why you wouldn't be able to run into this bug in Go currently. At the same time, if Go ever does start killing threads, this might hit a lot of people at once.


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commented Sep 5, 2018

Looked around a bit, looks like go 1.10+ will kill a thread if you lock it and the goroutine exits without unlocking it: #20395

Here's an example that shows that:

package main

import (

func main() {
	kill := false
	flag.BoolVar(&kill, "death", false, "Set deathsig")

	cmd := exec.Command("sleep", "1000")
	if kill == true {
		fmt.Println("Death is coming")
		cmd.SysProcAttr = &syscall.SysProcAttr{
			Setpgid:   true,
			Pdeathsig: syscall.SIGKILL,

	// force other goroutines to be spawned on a new thread

	done := make(chan struct{})

	go func() {
		err := cmd.Start()
		if err != nil {
		fmt.Println("Exit goroutine")


	err := cmd.Wait()
	fmt.Println("Done", err)

In that example, if -death is passed as an argument the program will immediately exit. Obviously, you have to go out of your way to trigger this behavior, but presumably someone who is messing with platform-specific behavior is going to want to know about platform-specific behaviors... thus why the docs should at least hint that this is possible.

@dominikh dominikh changed the title Update documentation for linux SysProcAttr.Pdeathsig syscall: misleading documentation for linux SysProcAttr.Pdeathsig Sep 6, 2018

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