[Python-checkins] python/dist/src/Modules gc_weakref.txt,, gcmodule.c,,

tim_one at users.sourceforge.net tim_one at users.sourceforge.net
Sun Oct 31 02:13:40 CEST 2004

Update of /cvsroot/python/python/dist/src/Modules
In directory sc8-pr-cvs1.sourceforge.net:/tmp/cvs-serv2582/Modules

Modified Files:
      Tag: release23-maint
	gc_weakref.txt gcmodule.c 
Log Message:
SF 1055820: weakref callback vs gc vs threads

In cyclic gc, clear all weakrefs to unreachable objects before allowing any
Python code (weakref callbacks or __del__ methods) to run.

This is a critical bugfix, affecting all versions of Python since weakrefs
were introduced.

Index: gc_weakref.txt
RCS file: /cvsroot/python/python/dist/src/Modules/gc_weakref.txt,v
retrieving revision
retrieving revision
diff -u -d -r2.1.2.1 -r2.1.2.2
--- gc_weakref.txt	20 Nov 2003 22:13:51 -0000
+++ gc_weakref.txt	31 Oct 2004 00:13:06 -0000
@@ -1,3 +1,79 @@
+The basic rule for dealing with weakref callbacks (and __del__ methods too,
+for that matter) during cyclic gc:
+    Once gc has computed the set of unreachable objects, no Python-level
+    code can be allowed to access an unreachable object.
+If that can happen, then the Python code can resurrect unreachable objects
+too, and gc can't detect that without starting over.  Since gc eventually
+runs tp_clear on all unreachable objects, if an unreachable object is
+resurrected then tp_clear will eventually be called on it (or may already
+have been called before resurrection).  At best (and this has been an
+historically common bug), tp_clear empties an instance's __dict__, and
+"impossible" AttributeErrors result.  At worst, tp_clear leaves behind an
+insane object at the C level, and segfaults result (historically, most
+often by setting a new-style class's mro pointer to NULL, after which
+attribute lookups performed by the class can segfault).
+OTOH, it's OK to run Python-level code that can't access unreachable
+objects, and sometimes that's necessary.  The chief example is the callback
+attached to a reachable weakref W to an unreachable object O.  Since O is
+going away, and W is still alive, the callback must be invoked.  Because W
+is still alive, everything reachable from its callback is also reachable,
+so it's also safe to invoke the callback (although that's trickier than it
+sounds, since other reachable weakrefs to other unreachable objects may
+still exist, and be accessible to the callback -- there are lots of painful
+details like this covered in the rest of this file).
+Python 2.4/2.3.5
+The "Before 2.3.3" section below turned out to be wrong in some ways, but
+I'm leaving it as-is because it's more right than wrong, and serves as a
+wonderful example of how painful analysis can miss not only the forest for
+the trees, but also miss the trees for the aphids sucking the trees
+dry <wink>.
+The primary thing it missed is that when a weakref to a piece of cyclic
+trash (CT) exists, then any call to any Python code whatsoever can end up
+materializing a strong reference to that weakref's CT referent, and so
+possibly resurrect an insane object (one for which cyclic gc has called-- or
+will call before it's done --tp_clear()).  It's not even necessarily that a
+weakref callback or __del__ method does something nasty on purpose:  as
+soon as we execute Python code, threads other than the gc thread can run
+too, and they can do ordinary things with weakrefs that end up resurrecting
+CT while gc is running.
+    http://www.python.org/sf/1055820
+shows how innocent it can be, and also how nasty.  Variants of the three
+focussed test cases attached to that bug report are now part of Python's
+standard Lib/test/test_gc.py.
+Jim Fulton gave the best nutshell summary of the new (in 2.4 and 2.3.5)
+    Clearing cyclic trash can call Python code.  If there are weakrefs to
+    any of the cyclic trash, then those weakrefs can be used to resurrect
+    the objects.  Therefore, *before* clearing cyclic trash, we need to
+    remove any weakrefs.  If any of the weakrefs being removed have
+    callbacks, then we need to save the callbacks and call them *after* all
+    of the weakrefs have been cleared.
+Alas, doing just that much doesn't work, because it overlooks what turned
+out to be the much subtler problems that were fixed earlier, and described
+below.  We do clear all weakrefs to CT now before breaking cycles, but not
+all callbacks encountered can be run later.  That's explained in horrid
+detail below.
+Older text follows, with a some later comments in [] brackets:
+Before 2.3.3
 Before 2.3.3, Python's cyclic gc didn't pay any attention to weakrefs.
 Segfaults in Zope3 resulted.
@@ -19,12 +95,19 @@
 happen at any later time if the callback manages to resurrect an insane
+[That missed that, in addition, a weakref to CT can exist outside CT, and
+ any callback into Python can use such a non-CT weakref to resurrect its CT
+ referent.  The same bad kinds of things can happen then.]
 Note that if it's possible for the callback to get at objects in the trash
 cycles, it must also be the case that the callback itself is part of the
 trash cycles.  Else the callback would have acted as an external root to
 the current collection, and nothing reachable from it would be in cyclic
 trash either.
+[Except that a non-CT callback can also use a non-CT weakref to get at
+ CT objects.]
 More, if the callback itself is in cyclic trash, then the weakref to which
 the callback is attached must also be trash, and for the same kind of
 reason:  if the weakref acted as an external root, then the callback could
@@ -47,6 +130,13 @@
 a feature of Python's weakrefs too that when a weakref goes away, the
 callback (if any) associated with it is thrown away too, unexecuted.
+[In 2.4/2.3.5, we first clear all weakrefs to CT objects, whether or not
+ those weakrefs are themselves CT, and whether or not they have callbacks.
+ The callbacks (if any) on non-CT weakrefs (if any) are invoked later,
+ after all weakrefs-to-CT have been cleared.  The callbacks (if any) on CT
+ weakrefs (if any) are never invoked, for the excruciating reasons
+ explained here.]
 Just that much is almost enough to prevent problems, by throwing away
 *almost* all the weakref callbacks that could get triggered by gc.  The
 problem remaining is that clearing a weakref with a callback decrefs the
@@ -56,7 +146,15 @@
 latter weakrefs may or may not be part of cyclic trash.
 So, to prevent any Python code from running while gc is invoking tp_clear()
-on all the objects in cyclic trash, it's not quite enough just to invoke
+on all the objects in cyclic trash,
+[That was always wrong:  we can't stop Python code from running when gc
+ is breaking cycles.  If an object with a __del__ method is not itself in
+ a cycle, but is reachable only from CT, then breaking cycles will, as a
+ matter of course, drop the refcount on that object to 0, and its __del__
+ will run right then.  What we can and must stop is running any Python
+ code that could access CT.]
+                                     it's not quite enough just to invoke
 tp_clear() on weakrefs with callbacks first.  Instead the weakref module
 grew a new private function (_PyWeakref_ClearRef) that does only part of
 tp_clear():  it removes the weakref from the weakly-referenced object's list
@@ -65,9 +163,13 @@
 trigger, and (unlike weakref's tp_clear()) also prevents any callback
 associated *with* wr's callback object from triggering.
+[Although we may trigger such callbacks later, as explained below.]
 Then we can call tp_clear on all the cyclic objects and never trigger
 Python code.
+[As above, not so:  it means never trigger Python code that can access CT.]
 After we do that, the callback objects still need to be decref'ed.  Callbacks
 (if any) *on* the callback objects that were also part of cyclic trash won't
 get invoked, because we cleared all trash weakrefs with callbacks at the
@@ -76,6 +178,10 @@
 reachable from them was part of cyclic trash, so gc didn't do any damage to
 objects reachable from them, and it's safe to call them at the end of gc.
+[That's so.  In addition, now we also invoke (if any) the callbacks on
+ non-CT weakrefs to CT objects, during the same pass that decrefs the
+ callback objects.]
 An alternative would have been to treat objects with callbacks like objects
 with __del__ methods, refusing to collect them, appending them to gc.garbage
 instead.  That would have been much easier.  Jim Fulton gave a strong
@@ -105,3 +211,9 @@
 However, a weakref callback on a weakref callback has got to be rare.
 It's possible to do such a thing, so gc has to be robust against it, but
 I doubt anyone has done it outside the test case I wrote for it.
+[The callbacks (if any) on non-CT weakrefs to CT objects are also executed
+ in an arbitrary order now.  But they were before too, depending on the
+ vagaries of when tp_clear() happened to break enough cycles to trigger
+ them.  People simply shouldn't try to use __del__ or weakref callbacks to
+ do fancy stuff.]

Index: gcmodule.c
RCS file: /cvsroot/python/python/dist/src/Modules/gcmodule.c,v
retrieving revision
retrieving revision
diff -u -d -r2.71.10.2 -r2.71.10.3
--- gcmodule.c	24 Nov 2003 04:02:31 -0000
+++ gcmodule.c	31 Oct 2004 00:13:06 -0000
@@ -377,38 +377,30 @@
 		return 0;
-/* Move the objects in unreachable with __del__ methods into finalizers,
- * and weakrefs with callbacks into wr_callbacks.
- * The objects remaining in unreachable do not have __del__ methods, and are
- * not weakrefs with callbacks.
- * The objects moved have gc_refs changed to GC_REACHABLE; the objects
- * remaining in unreachable are left at GC_TENTATIVELY_UNREACHABLE.
+/* Move the objects in unreachable with __del__ methods into `finalizers`.
+ * Objects moved into `finalizers` have gc_refs set to GC_REACHABLE; the
+ * objects remaining in unreachable are left at GC_TENTATIVELY_UNREACHABLE.
 static void
-move_troublemakers(PyGC_Head *unreachable,
-		   PyGC_Head *finalizers,
-		   PyGC_Head *wr_callbacks)
+move_finalizers(PyGC_Head *unreachable, PyGC_Head *finalizers)
-	PyGC_Head *gc = unreachable->gc.gc_next;
+	PyGC_Head *gc;
+	PyGC_Head *next;
-	while (gc != unreachable) {
+	/* March over unreachable.  Move objects with finalizers into
+	 * `finalizers`.
+	 */
+	for (gc = unreachable->gc.gc_next; gc != unreachable; gc = next) {
 		PyObject *op = FROM_GC(gc);
-		PyGC_Head *next = gc->gc.gc_next;
+		next = gc->gc.gc_next;
 		if (has_finalizer(op)) {
 			gc_list_append(gc, finalizers);
 			gc->gc.gc_refs = GC_REACHABLE;
-		else if (PyWeakref_Check(op) &&
-			 ((PyWeakReference *)op)->wr_callback) {
-			gc_list_remove(gc);
-			gc_list_append(gc, wr_callbacks);
-			gc->gc.gc_refs = GC_REACHABLE;
-		}
-		gc = next;
@@ -444,82 +436,180 @@
-/* Clear all trash weakrefs with callbacks.  This clears weakrefs first,
- * which has the happy result of disabling the callbacks without executing
- * them.  A nasty technical complication:  a weakref callback can itself be
- * the target of a weakref, in which case decrefing the callback can cause
- * another callback to trigger.  But we can't allow arbitrary Python code to
- * get executed at this point (the callback on the callback may try to muck
- * with other cyclic trash we're trying to collect, even resurrecting it
- * while we're in the middle of doing tp_clear() on the trash).
- *
- * The private _PyWeakref_ClearRef() function exists so that we can clear
- * the reference in a weakref without triggering a callback on the callback.
- *
- * We have to save the callback objects and decref them later.  But we can't
- * allocate new memory to save them (if we can't get new memory, we're dead).
- * So we grab a new reference on the clear'ed weakref, which prevents the
- * rest of gc from reclaiming it.  _PyWeakref_ClearRef() leaves the
- * weakref's wr_callback member intact.
- *
- * In the end, then, wr_callbacks consists of cleared weakrefs that are
- * immune from collection.  Near the end of gc, after collecting all the
- * cyclic trash, we call release_weakrefs().  That releases our references
- * to the cleared weakrefs, which in turn may trigger callbacks on their
- * callbacks.
+/* Clear all weakrefs to unreachable objects, and if such a weakref has a
+ * callback, invoke it if necessary.  Note that it's possible for such
+ * weakrefs to be outside the unreachable set -- indeed, those are precisely
+ * the weakrefs whose callbacks must be invoked.  See gc_weakref.txt for
+ * overview & some details.  Some weakrefs with callbacks may be reclaimed
+ * directly by this routine; the number reclaimed is the return value.  Other
+ * weakrefs with callbacks may be moved into the `old` generation.  Objects
+ * moved into `old` have gc_refs set to GC_REACHABLE; the objects remaining in
+ * unreachable are left at GC_TENTATIVELY_UNREACHABLE.  When this returns,
+ * no object in `unreachable` is weakly referenced anymore.
-static void
-clear_weakrefs(PyGC_Head *wr_callbacks)
+static int
+handle_weakrefs(PyGC_Head *unreachable, PyGC_Head *old)
-	PyGC_Head *gc = wr_callbacks->gc.gc_next;
+	PyGC_Head *gc;
+	PyObject *op;		/* generally FROM_GC(gc) */
+	PyWeakReference *wr;	/* generally a cast of op */
-	for (; gc != wr_callbacks; gc = gc->gc.gc_next) {
-		PyObject *op = FROM_GC(gc);
-		PyWeakReference *wr;
+	PyGC_Head wrcb_to_call;	/* weakrefs with callbacks to call */
+	PyGC_Head wrcb_to_kill;	/* weakrefs with callbacks to ignore */
+	PyGC_Head *next;
+	int num_freed = 0;
+	gc_list_init(&wrcb_to_call);
+	gc_list_init(&wrcb_to_kill);
+	/* Clear all weakrefs to the objects in unreachable.  If such a weakref
+	 * also has a callback, move it into `wrcb_to_call` if the callback
+	 * needs to be invoked, or into `wrcb_to_kill` if the callback should
+	 * be ignored.  Note that we cannot invoke any callbacks until all
+	 * weakrefs to unreachable objects are cleared, lest the callback
+	 * resurrect an unreachable object via a still-active weakref.  That's
+	 * why the weakrefs with callbacks are moved into different lists -- we
+	 * make another pass over those lists after this pass completes.
+	 */
+	for (gc = unreachable->gc.gc_next; gc != unreachable; gc = next) {
+		PyWeakReference **wrlist;
+		op = FROM_GC(gc);
+		next = gc->gc.gc_next;
+		if (! PyType_SUPPORTS_WEAKREFS(op->ob_type))
+			continue;
+		/* It supports weakrefs.  Does it have any? */
+		wrlist = (PyWeakReference **)
+			     		PyObject_GET_WEAKREFS_LISTPTR(op);
+		/* `op` may have some weakrefs.  March over the list, clear
+		 * all the weakrefs, and move the weakrefs with callbacks
+		 * into one of the wrcb_to_{call,kill} lists.
+		 */
+		for (wr = *wrlist; wr != NULL; wr = *wrlist) {
+			PyGC_Head *wrasgc;	/* AS_GC(wr) */
+			/* _PyWeakref_ClearRef clears the weakref but leaves
+			 * the callback pointer intact.  Obscure:  it also
+			 * changes *wrlist.
+			 */
+			assert(wr->wr_object == op);
+			_PyWeakref_ClearRef(wr);
+			assert(wr->wr_object == Py_None);
+			if (wr->wr_callback == NULL)
+				continue;	/* no callback */
+	/* Headache time.  `op` is going away, and is weakly referenced by
+	 * `wr`, which has a callback.  Should the callback be invoked?  If wr
+	 * is also trash, no:
+	 *
+	 * 1. There's no need to call it.  The object and the weakref are
+	 *    both going away, so it's legitimate to pretend the weakref is
+	 *    going away first.  The user has to ensure a weakref outlives its
+	 *    referent if they want a guarantee that the wr callback will get
+	 *    invoked.
+	 *
+	 * 2. It may be catastrophic to call it.  If the callback is also in
+	 *    cyclic trash (CT), then although the CT is unreachable from
+	 *    outside the current generation, CT may be reachable from the
+	 *    callback.  Then the callback could resurrect insane objects.
+	 *
+	 * Since the callback is never needed and may be unsafe in this case,
+	 * wr is moved to wrcb_to_kill.
+	 *
+	 * OTOH, if wr isn't part of CT, we should invoke the callback:  the
+	 * weakref outlived the trash.  Note that since wr isn't CT in this
+	 * case, its callback can't be CT either -- wr acted as an external
+	 * root to this generation, and therefore its callback did too.  So
+	 * nothing in CT is reachable from the callback either, so it's hard
+	 * to imagine how calling it later could create a problem for us.  wr
+	 * is moved to wrcb_to_call in this case.
+	 *
+	 * Obscure:  why do we move weakrefs with ignored callbacks to a list
+	 * we crawl over later, instead of getting rid of the callback right
+	 * now?  It's because the obvious way doesn't work:  setting
+	 * wr->wr_callback to NULL requires that we decref the current
+	 * wr->wr_callback.  But callbacks are also weakly referenceable, so
+	 * wr->wr_callback may *itself* be referenced by another weakref with
+	 * another callback.  The latter callback could get triggered now if
+	 * we decref'ed now, but as explained before it's potentially unsafe to
+	 * invoke any callback before all weakrefs to CT are cleared.
+	 */
+			/* Create a new reference so that wr can't go away
+			 * before we can process it again.
+			 */
+			Py_INCREF(wr);
+			/* Move wr to the appropriate list. */
+			wrasgc = AS_GC(wr);
+			if (wrasgc == next)
+				next = wrasgc->gc.gc_next;
+			gc_list_remove(wrasgc);
+			gc_list_append(wrasgc,
+				       	    &wrcb_to_kill : &wrcb_to_call);
+			wrasgc->gc.gc_refs = GC_REACHABLE;
+		}
+	}
+ 	/* Now that all weakrefs to trash have been cleared, it's safe to
+	 * decref the callbacks we decided to ignore.  We cannot invoke
+	 * them because they may be able to resurrect unreachable (from
+	 * outside) objects.
+ 	 */
+ 	 while (! gc_list_is_empty(&wrcb_to_kill)) {
+		gc = wrcb_to_kill.gc.gc_next;
+		op = FROM_GC(gc);
-		wr = (PyWeakReference *)op;
-		assert(wr->wr_callback != NULL);
-		Py_INCREF(op);
-		_PyWeakref_ClearRef(wr);
-	}
+		assert(((PyWeakReference *)op)->wr_callback != NULL);
-/* Called near the end of gc.  This gives up the references we own to
- * cleared weakrefs, allowing them to get collected, and in turn decref'ing
- * their callbacks.
- *
- * If a callback object is itself the target of a weakref callback,
- * decref'ing the callback object may trigger that other callback.  If
- * that other callback was part of the cyclic trash in this generation,
- * that won't happen, since we cleared *all* trash-weakref callbacks near
- * the start of gc.  If that other callback was not part of the cyclic trash
- * in this generation, then it acted like an external root to this round
- * of gc, so all the objects reachable from that callback are still alive.
- *
- * Giving up the references to the weakref objects will probably make
- * them go away too.  However, if a weakref is reachable from finalizers,
- * it won't go away.  We move it to the old generation then.  Since a
- * weakref object doesn't have a finalizer, that's the right thing to do (it
- * doesn't belong in gc.garbage).
- *
- * We return the number of weakref objects freed (those not appended to old).
- */
-static int
-release_weakrefs(PyGC_Head *wr_callbacks, PyGC_Head *old)
-	int num_freed = 0;
+		/* Give up the reference we created in the first pass.  When
+		 * op's refcount hits 0 (which it may or may not do right now),
+		 * op's tp_dealloc will decref op->wr_callback too.
+		 */
+		Py_DECREF(op);
+		if (wrcb_to_kill.gc.gc_next == gc) {
+			/* object is still alive -- move it */
+			gc_list_remove(gc);
+			gc_list_append(gc, old);
+		}
+		else
+			++num_freed;
+	}
-	while (! gc_list_is_empty(wr_callbacks)) {
-		PyGC_Head *gc = wr_callbacks->gc.gc_next;
-		PyObject *op = FROM_GC(gc);
+	/* Finally, invoke the callbacks we decided to honor.  It's safe to
+	 * invoke them because they cannot reference objects in `unreachable`.
+	 */
+	while (! gc_list_is_empty(&wrcb_to_call)) {
+		PyObject *temp;
+		PyObject *callback;
+		gc = wrcb_to_call.gc.gc_next;
+		op = FROM_GC(gc);
-		assert(((PyWeakReference *)op)->wr_callback != NULL);
+		wr = (PyWeakReference *)op;
+		callback = wr->wr_callback;
+		assert(callback != NULL);
+		/* copy-paste of weakrefobject.c's handle_callback() */
+		temp = PyObject_CallFunction(callback, "O", wr);
+		if (temp == NULL)
+			PyErr_WriteUnraisable(callback);
+		else
+			Py_DECREF(temp);
+		/* Give up the reference we created in the first pass.  When
+		 * op's refcount hits 0 (which it may or may not do right now),
+		 * op's tp_dealloc will decref op->wr_callback too.
+		 */
-		if (wr_callbacks->gc.gc_next == gc) {
+		if (wrcb_to_call.gc.gc_next == gc) {
 			/* object is still alive -- move it */
 			gc_list_append(gc, old);
@@ -527,6 +617,7 @@
 	return num_freed;
@@ -633,7 +724,6 @@
 	PyGC_Head *old; /* next older generation */
 	PyGC_Head unreachable; /* non-problematic unreachable trash */
 	PyGC_Head finalizers;  /* objects with, & reachable from, __del__ */
-	PyGC_Head wr_callbacks;  /* weakrefs with callbacks */
 	PyGC_Head *gc;
 	if (delstr == NULL) {
@@ -671,9 +761,9 @@
 		old = young;
 	/* Using ob_refcnt and gc_refs, calculate which objects in the
-	 * container set are reachable from outside the set (ie. have a
+	 * container set are reachable from outside the set (i.e., have a
 	 * refcount greater than 0 when all the references within the
-	 * set are taken into account
+	 * set are taken into account).
@@ -695,23 +785,11 @@
 	 * finalizers can't safely be deleted.  Python programmers should take
 	 * care not to create such things.  For Python, finalizers means
 	 * instance objects with __del__ methods.  Weakrefs with callbacks
-	 * can call arbitrary Python code, so those are special-cased too.
-	 *
-	 * Move unreachable objects with finalizers, and weakrefs with
-	 * callbacks, into different lists.
+	 * can also call arbitrary Python code but they will be dealt with by
+	 * handle_weakrefs().
-	gc_list_init(&wr_callbacks);
-	move_troublemakers(&unreachable, &finalizers, &wr_callbacks);
-	/* Clear the trash weakrefs with callbacks.  This prevents their
-	 * callbacks from getting invoked (when a weakref goes away, so does
-	 * its callback).
-	 * We do this even if the weakrefs are reachable from finalizers.
-	 * If we didn't, breaking cycles in unreachable later could trigger
-	 * deallocation of objects in finalizers, which could in turn
-	 * cause callbacks to trigger.  This may not be ideal behavior.
-	 */
-	clear_weakrefs(&wr_callbacks);
+	move_finalizers(&unreachable, &finalizers);
 	/* finalizers contains the unreachable objects with a finalizer;
 	 * unreachable objects reachable *from* those are also uncollectable,
 	 * and we move those into the finalizers list too.
@@ -728,17 +806,16 @@
 			debug_cycle("collectable", FROM_GC(gc));
+	/* Clear weakrefs and invoke callbacks as necessary. */
+	m += handle_weakrefs(&unreachable, old);
 	/* Call tp_clear on objects in the unreachable set.  This will cause
 	 * the reference cycles to be broken.  It may also cause some objects
 	 * in finalizers to be freed.
 	delete_garbage(&unreachable, old);
-        /* Now that we're done analyzing stuff and breaking cycles, let
-         * delayed weakref callbacks run.
-         */
-	m += release_weakrefs(&wr_callbacks, old);
 	/* Collect statistics on uncollectable objects found and print
 	 * debugging information. */
 	for (gc = finalizers.gc.gc_next;

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