Obscure crashes due to gcc 4.9 -O2 => -fisolate-erroneous-paths-dereference

Jeff Law law@redhat.com
Fri Feb 20 17:01:00 GMT 2015

On 02/20/15 04:45, Florian Weimer wrote:
> On 02/20/2015 10:30 AM, Andrew Haley wrote:
>> I doubt that such a thing is ever going to be safe.  The idea that a
>> null pointer points to nothing is so hard-baked into the design of C
>> that you can't get away from it.  Also, almost every C programmer and
>> especially library writer "knows" that a null pointer points to
>> nothing.
> NULL pointer dereferences (or NULL pointer with small offsets) were
> common programming idioms in the DOS days because the interrupt vector
> table was located at this address.  Quite a few systems once had a
> readable page zero, and (manual, I assume) optimizations for list
> traversal (p != NULL && p->next != NULL → p->next != NULL) were commonly
> used on these systems.
True, but thankfully this isn't blessed anymore.

> I think the treatment of pointers not as addresses, but something that
> has type information and provenience associated with it, came much
> later, when most of the design was already settled.
We still have targets where page0 is special.  The H8 for example comes 
to mind.  Folks regularly place data into page0 and mark it as special 
so the compiler emits more efficient sequences to access that data.

Regardless, the right thing to do is to disable elimination of NULL 
pointer checks on targets where page 0 is mapped and thus a reference to 
*0 may not fault.  In my mind this is an attribute of both the processor 
(see H8 above) and/or the target OS.

On those targets the C-runtime had better also ensure that its headers 
aren't decorated with non-null attributes, particularly for the mem* and 
str* functions.


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