Question about stack overflows in native code

David Holmes david.holmes at
Mon Apr 3 21:02:13 UTC 2017

Just to follow up on what Fred responded ...

On 4/04/2017 4:42 AM, Thomas Stüfe wrote:
> Hi Fred,
> thanks! Some more questions inline.
> On Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 8:29 PM, Frederic Parain <frederic.parain at>
> wrote:
>> When the yellow zone is hit and the thread state is not in
>> _thread_in_java (which means thread state is _thread_in_native or
>> _thread_in_vm), the yellow zone is silently disabled and the thread
>> is allowed to resume its execution.
> Disabled by whom exactly?
> Normally, this would be done in the signal handler, but that requires
> enough stack space to run. AFAIK jitted or interpreted code does stack
> banging in order to trigger the yellow-page-segfault at a point where there
> are enough pages left on the stack to invoke the signal handler (n shadow
> pages before), but that is not guaranteed to work with native C-compiled
> code, no?

The stack banging is done to ensure the stackoverflow is hit before we 
start doing the actual operation. The size of the yellow and red zones 
are supposed to be sufficient to allow the respective signal processing 
and response to be executed. But that assumes you simply advance into 
the guard zones - if your native code suddenly jumped to the end of the 
yellow zone for example, then signal processing would hit the red zone; 
similarly if you jump to the end of the red zone then signal processing 
will hit the OS guard page. If you jump past all guard pages you simply die.


> (not just a theory, we have a test case here where a stack overflow in
> native code just silently kills the process.)
> I guess it may work accidentally if the C-compiled code itself does some
> form of stack banging when establishing frames, in order to detect OS stack
> overflows? Very fuzzy here. But whatever the C-compiled code does, it has
> no notion about how much space we need to invoke the signal handler and
> handle stack overflows, no?
> When the red zone is hit, what ever the current thread state is,
>> the red zone is disabled and VMError::report_and_die() is called,
>> which should generate a hs_err file unless the generation of the
>> error file requires more memory than the red zone provides.
>> Fred
> Thanks, Thomas
>> On 04/03/2017 02:08 PM, Thomas Stüfe wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> Today we wondered what would happen when a stack overflow occurs in native
>>> code running in a java thread (an attached thread or one created by the
>>> VM).
>>> In that case yellow and red pages are in place, but this would not help
>>> much, would it not, because the native code would not do any stack
>>> banging?
>>> So, native code would hit the yellow page, and then there would probably
>>> not be enough space left on the stack to invoke the signal handler. The
>>> result would be immediate VM death - not even an hs-err file - is that
>>> correct?
>>> Also, we would hit the our own yellow page, not the guard page the OS may
>>> or may not have established, so - on UNIX - this would show up as
>>> "Segmentation Fault", not "Stack Overflow", or?
>>> Thank you,
>>> Thomas

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