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Kresten's Verifier for Java Byte Codes ====================================== The interface to the verifier is currently very crude. To run it, type prompt> java verify.Tool class-or-file-name ... If you give it a name of a class file, it will try to figure out the corresponding class name, (removing leading "./", and terminating ".class", and replace '.' with the path seperator). To start off, you may want to verify the verifier. On unix, you can write something like this, prompt> java verify.Tool `find verify/ -name '*.class'` As it runs, it will print a '.' for each method checked, and a '#' whenever it loads extra auxillary classes needed. It has two interesting options. --classpath=PATH Where path is a : or ; separated path (according to the java property "path.separator"). This specifies the "class path" from which to load classes. The classpath defaults to whatever the Java Runtime decides to make available in the java.class.path property. The verifier does not use the Java system's class loader. Rather, it incorporates it's own loading mechanism which is more ligh-weight. Also you don't really need to "load" classes in order to verify them. The second interesting option is --verbose=true which will make the verifier print a line of information for each instruction checked. (or perhaps this is just to be considered my debugging output...) It might look like this: ------------ (##) <[#JXJX#I#I????????> pc=151 new (##@) <[#JXJX#I#I????????> pc=154 dup (##@@) <[#JXJX#I#I????????> pc=155 iconst_1 (##@@I) <[#JXJX#I#I????????> pc=156 invokespecial calling java/lang/Boolean.<init> (boolean) void For a given sequence of four instructions. The ------ marks an entrypoint for a basic block. The part on the left, in parentheses describes the state of the stack at this particular instruction. Each character represents one "stack item". The right-most element is the top of the stack. Generally, these are the same as the characters encoding types in a field descriptor, "I" is integer, "J" is long, "D" is double and so on. Special are however "X", representing the second half of a long, and "Q", the same thing for doubles. "#" is a normal object, "@" is an uninitialized object (one for which a constructor has not yet been called) and "[" is an array. (See types/TypeTags.java for the full list) On the right, in angle brackets, is the "state" of the local variables. These are represented using the same characters as before. Location, which have yet to be assigned a value, are marked with "?". One of the jobs of the verifier is to make sure that such a location is never being read. Finally, on the right, you see the current pc (program counter) and the symbolic name of the opcode being checked. When the bytecode verifier detects an error, and you did not choose the --verbose=true option already, it will turn it on for you, and re-check the very same method. Right now, the interface is rather crude. If you get no specific messages, that means that your code did verify. As a consequence of the way it works, it may discover unreachable code in the instruction sequence. I have not seen javac-generated code with unreachable instructions, but several other compilers produce them all over. In specific, IBM's Jikes compiler does. When the verifier discovers such a sequence, it will print a message like unreachable in fooBar(): 3417+4, 7732+2 Where the +X means how many bytes onward in the byte sequence to find the unreachable code.