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NOEXEC and NOFORK applets.
Unix shells traditionally execute some commands internally in the attempt
to dramatically speed up execution. It will be slow as hell if for every
"echo blah" shell will fork and exec /bin/echo. To this end, shells
have to _reimplement_ these commands internally.
Busybox is unique in this regard because it already is a collection
of reimplemented Unix commands, and we can do the same trick
for speeding up busybox shells, and more. NOEXEC and NOFORK applets
are exactly those applets which are eligible for these tricks.
Applet will be subject to NOFORK/NOEXEC tricks if it is marked as such
in applets.h. FEATURE_PREFER_APPLETS is a config option which
globally enables usage of NOFORK/NOEXEC tricks.
If it is enabled, FEATURE_SH_STANDALONE can be enabled too,
and then shells will use NOFORK/NOEXEC tricks for ordinary commands.
NB: shell builtins use these tricks regardless of FEATURE_SH_STANDALONE
or FEATURE_PREFER_APPLETS.
In C, if you want to call a program and wait for it, use
spawn_and_wait(argv), BB_EXECVP(prog,argv) or BB_EXECLP(prog,argv0,...).
They check whether program name is an applet name and optionally
do NOFORK/NOEXEC thing depending on configuration.
NOEXEC
NOEXEC applet should work correctly if another applet forks and then
executes exit(<applet>_main(argc,argv)) in the child. The rules
roughly are:
* do not expect shared global variables/buffers to be in their
"initialized" state. Examples: xfunc_error_retval can be != 1,
bb_common_bufsiz1 can be scribbled over, ...
* do not expect that stdio wasn't used before. Calling set[v]buf()
can be disastrous.
* ...
NOEXEC applets save only one half of fork+exec overhead.
NOEXEC trick is disabled for NOMMU build.
NOFORK
NOFORK applet should work correctly if another applet simply runs
<applet>_main(argc,argv) and then continues with its business.
xargs, find, shells do it (grep for "spawn_and_wait" and
"run_nofork_applet" to find more users).
This poses much more serious limitations on what applet can do:
* all NOEXEC limitations apply.
* do not ever exit() or exec().
- xfuncs are okay. They are using special trick to return
to the caller applet instead of dying when they detect "x" condition.
- you may "exit" to caller applet by calling xfunc_die(). Return value
is taken from xfunc_error_retval.
- fflush_stdout_and_exit(n) is ok to use.
* do not use shared global data, or save/restore shared global data
(e.g. bb_common_bufsiz1) prior to returning.
- getopt32() is ok to use. You do not need to save/restore option_mask32,
it is already done by core code.
* if you allocate memory, you can use xmalloc() only on the very first
allocation. All other allocations should use malloc[_or_warn]().
After first allocation, you cannot use any xfuncs.
Otherwise, failing xfunc will return to caller applet
without freeing malloced data!
* All allocated data, opened files, signal handlers, termios settings,
O_NONBLOCK flags etc should be freed/closed/restored prior to return.
* ...
NOFORK applets give the most of speed advantage, but are trickiest
to implement. In order to minimize amount of bugs and maintenance,
prime candidates for NOFORK-ification are those applets which
are small and easy to audit, and those which are more likely to be
frequently executed from shell/find/xargs, particularly in shell
script loops. Applets which mess with signal handlers, termios etc
are probably not worth the effort.
Any NOFORK applet is also a NOEXEC applet.
Relevant CONFIG options
FEATURE_PREFER_APPLETS
BB_EXECVP(cmd, argv) will try to exec /proc/self/exe
if command's name matches some applet name
applet tables will contain NOFORK/NOEXEC bits
spawn_and_wait(argv) will do NOFORK/NOEXEC tricks
FEATURE_SH_STANDALONE (needs FEATURE_PREFER_APPLETS=y)
shells will try to exec /proc/self/exe if command's name matches
some applet name
shells will do NOEXEC trick on NOEXEC applets
FEATURE_SH_NOFORK (needs FEATURE_PREFER_APPLETS=y)
shells will do NOFORK trick on NOFORK applets
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