RFC: pass to warn on questionable uses of alloca().

Aldy Hernandez aldyh@redhat.com
Thu Jun 30 12:03:00 GMT 2016

On 06/18/2016 07:55 PM, Martin Sebor wrote:
> On 06/16/2016 02:32 AM, Aldy Hernandez wrote:

>> p.s. The pass currently warns on all uses of VLAs.  I'm not completely
>> sold on this idea, so perhaps we could remove it, or gate it with a flag.
> I also think that VLA diagnostics would be better controlled
> by a separate option, and emit a different diagnostic (one
> that mentions VLA rather than alloca).  Although again, and
> for VLAs even more so than for alloca, providing an option
> to have GCC use dynamic allocation, would be an even more
> robust solution than issuing warnings.  IIRC, this was the
> early implementation of VLAs in GCC so there is a precedent
> for it.  (Though this seems complementary to the warnings.)
> In addition, I'm of the opinion that potentially unbounded
> VLA allocation should be checked at runtime and made trap on
> size overflow in C and throw an exception in C++ (e.g., when
> int a [A][B] when A * B * sizeof (int) exceeds SIZE_MAX / 2
> or some runtime-configurable limit).  My C++ patch for bug
> 69517 does just that (it needs to be resubmitted with the
> runtime configuration limit added).
> For a choice of VLA warning options, there already is -Wvla,
> though it simply points out every VLA definition regardless
> of its size.  It also issues a diagnostic that's questionable
> in C99 and later modes (that "ISO C90 forbids variable length
> array" is only relevant in C90; what matters when -Wvla is
> specified in C99 and C11 modes is that a VLA has been seen).
> To keep things consistent with -Walloca, perhaps -Wvla could
> be extended to take an optional argument to specify the VLA
> threshold.  (So that -Wvla=4096 would only diagnose VLA
> definitions of 4k bytes or more, or unknown size.)

Hmmm...I kinda wanted a sane default for -Walloca, and keeping -Walloc 
and -Wvla consistent would mean I don't get that.

Currently, -Walloca would mean "warn on unbounded uses of alloca where n 
 > DEFAULT", whereas -Walloca=0 would mean "warn on all uses of alloca".

The problem is that -Wvla means "warn on ALL uses".

One consistent option would be to change the definition to:

-Walloca: warn on all uses of alloca (strict mode).
-Walloca=N: warn on unbounded uses of alloca or bounded uses of n > N.
-Wvla: warn on all uses of VLAs (as currently implemented).
-Wvla=N: warn on unbounded uses of VLA or bounded uses of n > N.

This means we get no defaults, and the user must make the limit 
explicit, but at least we're consistent with the current use of -Wvla.

How about we just use -Walloca (and no separate variants for -Wvla=??), 
but we document that -Walloca will also flag VLAs (and explain why). 
Also, we make sure the error messages say "variable-length array" not 
"alloca" in the VLA case.  This way we can have a default, and perhaps a 
more consistent flag:

-Walloca: warn on all unbounded uses of alloca/vlas and bounded uses 
where n > DEFAULT.
-Walloca=0: warn on all uses of alloca/vlas (strict mode).
-Walloca=N: warn on all unbounded uses of alloca/vlas and bounded uses 
where n > N.
-Wla: untouched; as is currently implemented.

Would this be acceptable, or are y'all really against one -Walloca flag 
to rule it all?


More information about the Gcc-patches mailing list