[-Wstringop-overflow=] strncat(3)

Alejandro Colomar alx.manpages@gmail.com
Wed Dec 14 22:45:04 GMT 2022


Hi,

I was rewriting the strncat(3) manual page, and when I tried to compile the 
example program, I got a surprise from the compiler.

Here goes the page:


   strncat(3)               Library Functions Manual              strncat(3)

   NAME
          strncat  -  concatenate  a  null‐padded  character sequence into a
          string

   LIBRARY
          Standard C library (libc, -lc)

   SYNOPSIS
          #include <string.h>

          char *strncat(char *restrict dst, const char src[restrict .sz],
                         size_t sz);

   DESCRIPTION
          This function catenates the input character sequence contained  in
          a  null‐padded  fixed‐width  buffer,  into  a string at the buffer
          pointed to by dst.  The programmer is responsible for allocating a
          buffer large enough, that is, strlen(dst) + strnlen(src, sz) + 1.

          An implementation of this function might be:

              char *
              strncat(char *restrict dst, const char *restrict src, size_t sz)
              {
                  int   len;
                  char  *end;

                  len = strnlen(src, sz);
                  end = dst + strlen(dst);
                  end = mempcpy(end, src, len);
                  *end = '\0';

                  return dst;
              }

   RETURN VALUE
          strncat() returns dest.

   ATTRIBUTES
          [...]

   STANDARDS
          POSIX.1‐2001, POSIX.1‐2008, C89, C99, SVr4, 4.3BSD.

   CAVEATS
          The  name of this function is confusing.  This function has no re‐
          lation with strncpy(3).

          If the destination buffer is not large enough, the behavior is un‐
          defined.  See _FORTIFY_SOURCE in feature_test_macros(7).

   BUGS
          This function  can  be  very  inefficient.   Read  about  Shlemiel
          the       painter      ⟨https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2001/12/11/
          back-to-basics/⟩.

   EXAMPLES
          #include <stdio.h>
          #include <stdlib.h>
          #include <string.h>

          int
          main(void)
          {
              char    buf[BUFSIZ];
              size_t  len;

              buf[0] = '\0';  // There’s no ’cpy’ function to this ’cat’.
              strncat(buf, "Hello ", 6);
              strncat(buf, "world", 42);  // Padding null bytes ignored.
              strncat(buf, "!", 1);
              len = strlen(buf);
              printf("[len = %zu]: <%s>\n", len, buf);

              exit(EXIT_SUCCESS);
          }

   SEE ALSO
          string(3), string_copy(3)

   Linux man‐pages (unreleased)      (date)                       strncat(3)


And when you compile that, you get:

$ cc -Wall -Wextra ./strncat.c
./strncat.c: In function ‘main’:
./strncat.c:12:12: warning: ‘strncat’ specified bound 6 equals source length 
[-Wstringop-overflow=]
    12 |            strncat(buf, "Hello ", 6);
       |            ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
./strncat.c:14:12: warning: ‘strncat’ specified bound 1 equals source length 
[-Wstringop-overflow=]
    14 |            strncat(buf, "!", 1);
       |            ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


So, what?  Where's the problem?  This function does exactly that: "take an 
unterminated character sequence and catenate it to an existing string".  Clang 
seems to be fine with the code.

Cheers,

Alex


-- 
<http://www.alejandro-colomar.es/>
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