Fernando J. Pereda’s blag

May 25, 2010

iostreams are VERY thread-unsafe on Mac OS X

Filed under: blag — Tags: , , , — Fernando J. Pereda @ 8:19 am

This was both surprising and disgusting. Our in-house data acquisition software needs to convert lots of floats to ascii so that they can ve viewed in real time. This is very easy to do with a stringify-like function like the one found in paludis/paludis/util/stringify.hh.

stringify looks trivial, there’s no shared state nor there is any static data, so I thought that I could call stringify from several threads at the same time. I don’t think there’s any guarantee about thread safety of ostringstream’s operator<< but it looked like a safe assumption. Well, incorrect.

operator<< calls vsnprintf, which should be thread-safe by itself. However, OSX's vsnprintf ultimately calls localeconv_l, which is not thread-safe. And, you end up with something like this:

#0 0x96f734a9 in malloc_error_break ()
#1 0x96f6e497 in szone_error ()
#2 0x96e98503 in szone_free ()
#3 0x96e9836d in free ()
#4 0x96e97f24 in localeconv_l ()
#5 0x96e93335 in __vfprintf ()
#6 0x96ecb9b5 in vsnprintf ()
#7 0x0144615e in std::__convert_from_v ()
#8 0x01437d2a in std::num_put<char, std::ostreambuf_iterator<char, std::char_traits > >::_M_insert_float ()
#9 0x0143803d in std::num_put<char, std::ostreambuf_iterator<char, std::char_traits > >::do_put ()
#10 0x0144ab6a in std::ostream::_M_insert ()
#11 0x0000fb25 in std::basic_ostringstream<char, std::char_traits, std::allocator >::str () at sstream:217
...

Which means there’s no way of converting stuff to human readable in a thread-safe manner. I’m not sure whether I’m missing something or not… but this looks very fishy. I ended up adding a stupid big mutex around my stringify calls, but that looks more like a workaround that a final solution to the problem. Plus, this doesn’t protect ANY other uses of iostream’s operator<< such as loggers.

Ok… looks like that wasn’t a very accurate diagnostic. This is going to be more annoying than I thought.

— ferdy

May 1, 2010

Finally, a real AMSV (Autonomous Marine Surface Vehicle)

Filed under: blag — Fernando J. Pereda @ 4:15 pm

After lots of work from different people, it finally is a real AMSV. Nothing too fancy yet (just a mere PD controller for speed and heading). It is, nonetheless, a very interesting platform for future research.

With semi-strong current and some wind it managed to follow a very nice path across some waypoints:

The trajectory between p2 and the shore was done manually using a joystick. Interestingly enough, that path is less nice than those done by the autonomous control.

I hope to be able to post more niceties soon.

— ferdy

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