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bug#31878: Module autoloading is not thread safe

From: Mark H Weaver
Subject: bug#31878: Module autoloading is not thread safe
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2018 19:22:27 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.1 (gnu/linux)

Hi Ludovic,

address@hidden (Ludovic Courtès) writes:

> address@hidden (Ludovic Courtès) skribis:
>> address@hidden (Ludovic Courtès) skribis:
>>> I believe this comes from the fact that ‘autoloads-done’ and related
>>> alists in (ice-9 boot-9) are manipulated in a non-thread-safe fashion.
>> Here’s a proposed fix for ‘stable-2.2’ as discussed on #guile, Andy:
> After further discussion on IRC, I pushed a variant of this patch as
> commit 761cf0fb8c364e885e4c6fced34563f8157c3b84.

There are problems with this fix, e.g. <https://bugs.gnu.org/32367>.

More generally, nearly arbitrary code can be run in the top-level
expressions of a module.  It could launch other threads which try to
load modules, or even send messages to other existing threads asking
them to do work.  In some cases, the body of the module might never
terminate.  The entire main program might be run from there.  I suspect
that's not unusual.

I can see another problem as well: while the module is in the process of
loading, the partially-loaded module is globally visible and accessible
to other threads.  If I'm not mistaken, with this patch, there's nothing
preventing other threads from attempting to use the partially-loaded

I thought about how to fix this thread-safety problem a long time ago,
and came up with a rough outline of a solution.  The idea is that the
module should not be added to the global module table until the module
has finished loading.  While the module is being loaded, it would be
made visible only to the loading thread, and to any other threads
spawned during the loading process, by adding the module to a local list
of modules-being-loaded referenced by a fluid variable.  If any other
threads attempt to access the module, it would not be found in the
global module table, and thus trigger an auto-load, which would wait for
the lock to be released before proceeding.

What do you think?


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