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3.2.7 Stack Overflow Checking

For most operating systems, gcc does not perform stack overflow checking by default. This means that if the main environment task or some other task exceeds the available stack space, then unpredictable behavior will occur.

To activate stack checking, compile all units with the gcc option -fstack-check. For example:

     gcc -c -fstack-check package1.adb

Units compiled with this option will generate extra instructions to check that any use of the stack (for procedure calls or for declaring local variables in declare blocks) do not exceed the available stack space. If the space is exceeded, then a Storage_Error exception is raised.

For declared tasks, the stack size is always controlled by the size given in an applicable Storage_Size pragma (or is set to the default size if no pragma is used.

For the environment task, the stack size depends on system defaults and is unknown to the compiler. The stack may even dynamically grow on some systems, precluding the normal Ada semantics for stack overflow. In the worst case, unbounded stack usage, causes unbounded stack expansion resulting in the system running out of virtual memory.

The stack checking may still work correctly if a fixed size stack is allocated, but this cannot be guaranteed. To ensure that a clean exception is signalled for stack overflow, set the environment variable GNAT_STACK_LIMIT to indicate the maximum stack area that can be used, as in:


The limit is given in kilobytes, so the above declaration would set the stack limit of the environment task to 1.6 megabytes. Note that the only purpose of this usage is to limit the amount of stack used by the environment task. If it is necessary to increase the amount of stack for the environment task, then this is an operating systems issue, and must be addressed with the appropriate operating systems commands.