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Re: [TANGENT] run-command: use vfork instead of fork

On 05/16, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> On Tue, May 16, 2017 at 12:35 PM, Eric Wong <e@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> >
> > Fwiw, most of the vfork preparation was already done by Brandon
> > and myself a few weeks ago, and cooking in pu.
> Oh, interesting. Was that done for vfork(), or is it for something
> else? Some of the changes seem almost overly careful. Is this for
> prep-work porting to some odd environment that doesn't really have a
> MMU at all? There's nothing fundamentally wrong with allocating memory
> after fork().
> But yes, it looks like it helps the vfork case.
>                Linus

I started working on the run-command code when I ran into a deadlock in
'git grep --recurse-submodules'.  When I added support for submodules to
grep I just assumed that launching a process (which atm is unfortunately
the only way to work on a submodule) would work in a multi-threaded
environment.  I was naive and wrong!

The deadlock was due to a malloc lock being held by thread 'A' while
thread 'b' tried to launch a process.  Since that lock was in a
locked-state at the time of forking, it remained in a locked-state with
no hope of ever being released.  So when the child process that thread
'b' spawned tried to malloc a chunk of memory after forking, it

I didn't catch this in initial testing because gclib registers
atfork_handelers in order to prevent this sort of thing, while libraries
like tcmalloc don't do this.

So to account for this, I worked to make run-command safe to use in the
presence of threads, which had the benefit of also preparing it to be
vfork() ready.

Ultimately I'd like to drop the requirement to spawn a child process to
work on a submodule, but that's going to take a lot more effort.

Brandon Williams