system() call causes core dump

usleepless at usleepless at
Fri Nov 6 15:43:20 UTC 2009

On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 4:19 PM, Peter Steele <psteele at> wrote:

> > Either I'm very lucky, or popen is better suited for this, as I have this
> running on various machines, 24/7:
> ...
> I could try popen as a next step. What we tried first was to replace our
> system calls with a function called vsys() which does exactly the same thing
> but uses vfork() underneath instead of fork(). If this problem had been due
> to resource conflicts due to the fork() performed by system(), we figured
> this would solve the problem. Unfortunately, we are still getting the exact
> same core with the identical stack trace.
> #0 0x0000000801058307 in _spinunlock () from /lib/
> #1 0x00000008011d0afb in _malloc_postfork () from /lib/
> #2 0x000000080105c5fb in fork () from /lib/
> #3 0x0000000801191aae in system () from /lib/
> #4 0x00000008010553aa in system () from /lib/
> #5 0x000000000040b6f9 in mythread at myapp.c:461
> #6 0x0000000801056a88 in pthread_getprio () from /lib/
> I don't know much about the internal implementation of popen but I suspect
> that at its core it still likely ends up doing a fork(). Still, it's worth a
> try. Curiously, we have several other threads in our application running in
> threads that periodically make system calls. For some reason only this call
> to fstat causes a core to occur. Seems that something fishy is going on
> here....
I am following this thread since i find it interesting ( playing around with
popen & threads at times ).

I am still trying to understand what Kris said. He says it is not safe to
fork from a multithread proces. And he suggests using execve.

You stacktrace btw is consistent with what Kris says: "and if that thread
tries to acquire a lock or other formerly-shared resource it may deadlock or
crash, because the child process is no longer accessing the same memory
location as the threads in the parent process". -> that's probably the
spinlock in malloc.

I think you need to 1. (v)fork, 2. run execve on your fstat ( make it a sh
script )

Something along the lines of this

<< your current thread code here >>

// rc = system(fstatCmd);

childpid = fork();

    if (childpid >= 0) /* fork succeeded */
        if (childpid == 0) /* fork() returns 0 to the child process */

           execve("/usr/local/app/myscript", NULL, NULL);





      // didn't work, log something


<< rest of your code here >>



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