Lecture 18 – Mar 13th, 2020


  1. Log in to clyde.
  2. $ cp -r ~steve/ex/intlist-v2 .


  1. Run $ make check and see that this implementation has some bugs.
  2. If we run $ ./test_initialize, it appears to succeed so let’s check $ ./test_insert. AddressSanitizer helpfully tells us that we are “attempting free on address which was not malloc()-ed” and it gives a helpful stack trace showing us which functions were called leading up to the crash. Let’s debug and see what we can find out.
  3. Run $ gdb test_insert. At the GDB prompt, enter the following command.
    (gdb) set environment ASAN_OPTIONS=abort_on_error=1

    This will cause AddressSanitizer to abort on an error so we can debug it.

    Now use the run command to run the program until it crashes. After asan prints out the same message, GDB tells us this.

    Program received signal SIGABRT, Aborted.
    __GI_raise (sig=sig@entry=6) at ../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/raise.c:51
    51	../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/raise.c: No such file or directory.
  4. That’s not really helpful because we didn’t write that file. Use the backtrace or bt command to display a stack trace.
    (gdb) bt
    #0  __GI_raise (sig=sig@entry=6) at ../sysdeps/unix/sysv/linux/raise.c:51
    #1  0x00007ffff6e43801 in __GI_abort () at abort.c:79
    #2  0x000000000050329b in __sanitizer::Abort() ()
    #3  0x00000000005005c8 in __sanitizer::Die() ()
    #4  0x00000000004e03c3 in __asan::ReportFreeNotMalloced(unsigned long, __sanitizer::BufferedStackTrace*) ()
    #5  0x00000000004231e0 in __asan::Allocator::Deallocate(void*, unsigned long, unsigned long, __sanitizer::BufferedStackTrace*, __asan::AllocType) ()
    #6  0x0000000000425224 in __asan::asan_realloc(void*, unsigned long, __sanitizer::BufferedStackTrace*) ()
    #7  0x00000000004da07a in realloc ()
    #8  0x00000000005141d2 in grow_if_needed (list=0x7fffffffdb80, new_capacity=0) at intlist.c:28
    #9  0x00000000005149a1 in intlist_insert (list=0x7fffffffdb80, index=0, x=32) at intlist.c:47
    #10 0x000000000051225a in main () at test_insert.c:10
  5. The first 8 of these aren’t interesting to us but #8 is our code, so use the up command to move up the stack trace to #8.
    (gdb) up 8
    #8  0x00000000005141d2 in grow_if_needed (list=0x7fffffffdb80, new_capacity=0) at intlist.c:28
    28	  list = realloc(list, new_capacity);

    This is interesting, we’re trying to reallocate list but GDB is telling us that list was allocated on the stack. (If you don’t see why that is, review the slides from last class.)

  6. Using the print, up, and list commands, we see the contents of *list and that sure enough, in main, list was allocated on the stack but list->data is on the heap. We’re reallocating the wrong thing!

    Fix that by reallocating list->data instead.

  7. Rebuild and run test_insert. This time, we see a different error, “SEGV on unknown address 0x000000000000”. “SEGV” is a signal. We’ll talk about signals later. For now, it’s enough to know that this is the OS telling us we have a “segmentation fault” which really just means we tried to read or write to some inaccessible address. In this case, asan tells us we’re trying to read from address 0. I.e., we’ve got a NULL pointer somewhere.
  8. We’re going to be running GDB a lot and it prints a lot of useless information at start up. In bash, we can run $ alias gdb='gdb -q' to make gdb start up in quiet mode. You can add that to your ~/.bashrc file (or ~/.bash_aliases which Ubuntu’s default .bashrc will source).

    In addition, put set environment ASAN_OPTIONS=abort_on_error=1 in ~/.gdbinit so that you don’t have to enter that command each time you start GDB.

  9. Run $ gdb test_insert and then at the GDB prompt, use run to run until it crashes. Next, p *list shows us that list->data is NULL. If we look at the stack trace (bt) and then print the code listing (list), we see that the very first call to intlist_insert is crashing. So let’s set a break point, restart the program, and then step through and see if we can work out what’s going on.
    (gdb) b intlist_insert
    Breakpoint 1 at 0x514926: file intlist.c, line 46.
    (gdb) run
  10. Print out *list. Now step through the code one statement at a time, examining variables as needed until you can figure out what has gone wrong. Fix it and test your fix works.
  11. Repeat the process of building, debugging, and fixing until no bugs remain. One thing to keep in mind is the tests aren’t complete. If we fix one bug, it is important to look at related code to see if the code author made the same mistake in multiple places.