tutorial on using Cleaner-based finalization

Roger Riggs Roger.Riggs at Oracle.com
Thu May 4 14:20:13 UTC 2017

Hi Rick,

On 5/3/2017 10:21 PM, Rick Hillegas wrote:
> Thanks, Roger. That is a helpful example.
> Derby is a component which can be quiesced and unloaded on 
> resource-constrained platforms, then re-loaded when resources free up. 
> Unloading means garbage collecting all the classloaders created by the 
> component so that, at the end, not a single scrap of Derby code 
> remains loaded. Has the Cleaner pattern been tested under these kinds 
> of conditions? Can you point me at a Cleaner-based library which 
> successfully unloads and reloads itself without leaking classloaders?
The Cleaner thread will terminate when all of the cleaning actions have 
been cancelled or completed
so it should not interfere with your goal of completely being unloaded.  
(Peter provided the design and implementation.) It will not retain any 
references to any object that is otherwise unreferenced.

The Cleaner is new enough (9 is not yet GA'd) that I don't know of any 
library using it.
My example using sockets may be a bit misleading, since sockets will be 
closed when otherwise
unreferenced (as are files).  That was an example of placeholder for 
some kind of connection related
state that needed to be cleaned up when the referencing object is 

As Peter inquired, I would suggest investigating whether completely 
removing the finalization
can have the desired effect.  A server connection terminating 
unexpectedly would I think
cause any server side transaction to cleanup as appropriate for the 
connection; and that's server side behavior.

Note also a difference between the finalize case and Cleaner.  In the 
finalize case, there may be
an entire graph of unreachable instances that are finalized together. 
The subgraph is unreachable from
live roots but still has references between the disconnected graph 
objects.  By contrast, the Cleaner
is based on an object being unreachable and the object doing the 
cleaning is still reachable
(perhaps only via the Cleaner mechanism). So the cleanup proceeds in 
layers with unreachable
instances being reclaimed first and the cleanup instances being 
reclaimed, after they are invoked,
in a subsequent cycle.

Regards, Roger

> Thanks,
> -Rick
> On 5/3/17 9:04 AM, Roger Riggs wrote:
>> Hi Rick,
>> The general nature of changes to use the Cleaner involve factoring 
>> out the cleanup
>> code from the object being cleaned, though in many cases it does not 
>> require restructuring.
>> For example, if an object holds a reference to a network socket that 
>> needs to be closed
>> when the object is collected the socket.close() can called by the 
>> cleaner:
>>    Cleaner cleaner = ...;
>>    final Socket socket = ...;
>>    Object obj = ...;
>>    cleaner.register(obj, () -> {
>>    try {
>>    socket.close();
>>         } catch (IOException ioe) { // ignore}
>>    });
>> Creating a cleaner starts a thread that does the work so you'll want 
>> to decide
>> how to share it across the uses or to use than one.
>> Using lambdas for the cleaner functions is very lightweight but be 
>> careful to avoid
>> the using bound variables in the lambda body because they implicitly 
>> retain
>> a reference to the enclosing instance which will prevent the instance 
>> from becoming unreferences.
>> If there are more specific cases of interest let me know,
>> Regards, Roger
>> On 5/2/2017 10:08 PM, Rick Hillegas wrote:
>>> When I compile Apache Derby using JDK 9 build 167, I see several 
>>> instances of the following warning:
>>>    warning: [deprecation] finalize() in Object has been deprecated
>>> The javadoc for java.lang.Object.finalize() suggests that affected 
>>> classes should migrate their finalization to a coding pattern based 
>>> on the newly introduced java.lang.ref.Cleaner class. I am hesitant 
>>> to try my hand at this without more guidance. Can you point me at a 
>>> tutorial or list of best practices for implementing Cleaner-based 
>>> finalization?
>>> Thanks,
>>> -Rick

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