Phantom Referencesvs finalizers (was: RFR JDK-8185582, Update Zip implementation to use Cleaner, not finalizers)

mandy chung mandy.chung at
Wed Sep 27 20:41:20 UTC 2017

On 9/27/17 10:55 AM, Hans Boehm wrote:
> "And of course, it guarantees that the tracked referent can not be
> resurrected as a result of cleanup code execution."
> True, but it seems to me that the real property you want is "it guarantees
> that the tracked referent can not be resurrected". Full stop. Actually, the
> property I really need is: "The referent of an enqueued PhantomReference
> cannot subsequently be accessed."
> Unfortunately, neither of those last two appear to be true due to the
> weakly specified behavior of JNI WeakGlobalRefs. The spec says:
> "Interactions between weak global references and PhantomReferences are
> undefined. In particular, implementations of a Java VM may (or may not)
> process weak global references after PhantomReferences, and it may (or may
> not) be possible to use weak global references to hold on to objects which
> are also referred to by PhantomReference objects. This undefined use of
> weak global references should be avoided."
> This allows a WeakGlobalRef to be converted to a strong JNI ref after a
> PhantomReference to the same object has been enqueued, thus resurrecting
> the referent, and allowing access.
> The advice in the last sentence seems to be both essential and completely
> impractical, since the WeakGlobalRef may point to another object, which may
> then indirectly point ot the PhantomReference referent. Hence you can't
> prevent this interaction without global, whole program knowledge of which
> objects may indirectly reference PhantomReference referents. This is
> essentially the same problem we had with (unordered) finalization, only now
> confined to programs that use WeakGlobalRefs.
> Am I reading this correctly? Is it intended? It seems like it should be
> fixable by giving WeakGlobalRefs essentially WeakReference behavior, as the
> name implies?

Thanks for pointing this out.   I create a JBS issue to follow up this:


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