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Linkage can make an identifier declared in different scopes or declared multiple times within the same scope refer to the same object or function. Identifiers are classified as externally linked, internally linked, or not linked. These three kinds of linkage have the following characteristics [Kirch-Prinz 2002]:

  • External linkage: An identifier with external linkage represents the same object or function throughout the entire program, that is, in all compilation units and libraries belonging to the program. The identifier is available to the linker. When a second declaration of the same identifier with external linkage occurs, the linker associates the identifier with the same object or function.
  • Internal linkage: An identifier with internal linkage represents the same object or function within a given translation unit. The linker has no information about identifiers with internal linkage. Consequently, these identifiers are internal to the translation unit.
  • No linkage: If an identifier has no linkage, then any further declaration using the identifier declares something new, such as a new variable or a new type.

According to the C Standard, 6.2.2 [ISO/IEC 9899:2011], linkage is determined as follows:

If the declaration of a file scope identifier for an object or a function contains the storage class specifier static, the identifier has internal linkage.

For an identifier declared with the storage-class specifier extern in a scope in which a prior declaration of that identifier is visible, if the prior declaration specifies internal or external linkage, the linkage of the identifier at the later declaration is the same as the linkage specified at the prior declaration. If no prior declaration is visible, or if the prior declaration specifies no linkage, then the identifier has external linkage.

If the declaration of an identifier for a function has no storage-class specifier, its linkage is determined exactly as if it were declared with the storage-class specifier extern. If the declaration of an identifier for an object has file scope and no storage-class specifier, its linkage is external.

The following identifiers have no linkage: an identifier declared to be anything other than an object or a function; an identifier declared to be a function parameter; a block scope identifier for an object declared without the storage-class specifier extern.

Use of an identifier (within one translation unit) classified as both internally and externally linked is undefined behavior. (See also undefined behavior 8.) A translation unit includes the source file together with its headers and all source files included via the preprocessing directive #include.

The following table identifies the linkage assigned to an object that is declared twice in a single translation unit. The column designates the first declaration, and the row designates the redeclaration.

Noncompliant Code Example

In this noncompliant code example, i2 and i5 are defined as having both internal and external linkage. Future use of either identifier results in undefined behavior.

int i1 = 10;         /* Definition, external linkage */
static int i2 = 20;  /* Definition, internal linkage */
extern int i3 = 30;  /* Definition, external linkage */
int i4;              /* Tentative definition, external linkage */
static int i5;       /* Tentative definition, internal linkage */

int i1;  /* Valid tentative definition */
int i2;  /* Undefined, linkage disagreement with previous */
int i3;  /* Valid tentative definition */
int i4;  /* Valid tentative definition */
int i5;  /* Undefined, linkage disagreement with previous */

int main(void) {
  /* ... */
  return 0;
}

Implementation Details

Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 issues no warnings about this code, even at the highest diagnostic levels.

The GCC compiler generates a fatal diagnostic for the conflicting definitions of i2 and i5.

Compliant Solution

This compliant solution does not include conflicting definitions:

int i1 = 10;         /* Definition, external linkage */
static int i2 = 20;  /* Definition, internal linkage */
extern int i3 = 30;  /* Definition, external linkage */
int i4;              /* Tentative definition, external linkage */
static int i5;       /* Tentative definition, internal linkage */

int main(void) {
  /* ... */
  return 0;
}

Risk Assessment

Use of an identifier classified as both internally and externally linked is undefined behavior.

Rule

Severity

Likelihood

Remediation Cost

Priority

Level

DCL36-C

Medium

Probable

Medium

P8

L2

Automated Detection

Tool

Version

Checker

Description

Astrée
19.04

static-function-declaration

static-object-declaration

Partially checked
Axivion Bauhaus Suite

6.9.0

CertC-DCL36Fully implemented
Coverity
2017.07
PW.LINKAGE_CONFLICTImplemented

ECLAIR

1.2

CC2.DCL36

Fully implemented

GCC
4.3.5



Klocwork
2018

MISRA.FUNC.STATIC.REDECL


LDRA tool suite
9.7.1

461 S, 575 S, 2 X

Fully implemented

Splint
3.1.1



Parasoft C/C++test
10.4.2
CERT_C-DCL36-a
Identifiers shall not simultaneously have both internal and external linkage in the same translation unit
Polyspace Bug Finder

R2019b

CERT C: Rule DCL36-C


Checks for inconsistent use of static and extern in object declarations (rule partially covered)

PRQA QA-C
9.5
0625 (U)Fully implemented
RuleChecker

19.04

static-function-declaration

static-object-declaration
Partially checked
TrustInSoft Analyzer

1.38

non-static declaration follows static declaration

Partially verified.

Related Vulnerabilities

Search for vulnerabilities resulting from the violation of this rule on the CERT website.

Related Guidelines

Key here (explains table format and definitions)

Taxonomy

Taxonomy item

Relationship

MISRA C:2012Rule 8.2 (required)Prior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship
MISRA C:2012Rule 8.4 (required)Prior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship
MISRA C:2012Rule 8.8 (required)Prior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship
MISRA C:2012Rule 17.3 (mandatory)Prior to 2018-01-12: CERT: Unspecified Relationship

Bibliography



6 Comments

  1. When I compiled the Non-compliant code example using visual studio 2008 - I get

    ......cpp(12) : error C2086: 'int i1' : redefinition 
    ......cpp(6) : see declaration of 'i1' 
    


    The same message is displayed for the other 4 variables too.

    Please consider revising the statement "...Microsoft Visual Studio compile this non-compliant code example without warning..."  I did not have to change the warning level.

    1. I only have access to MSVS 2005 right now. At Level 3 (/W3) and at Level 4 (/W4) I get:

      ------ Build started: Project: DCL36-C, Configuration: Debug Win32 ------
      Compiling...
      stdafx.cpp
      Compiling...
      DCL36-C.cpp
      Compiling manifest to resources...
      Linking...
      Embedding manifest...
      Build log was saved at "file://c:\Documents and Settings\rcs\My Documents\Visual Studio\Projects\DCL36-C\DCL36-C\Debug\BuildLog.htm"
      DCL36-C - 0 error(s), 0 warning(s)
      ========== Build: 1 succeeded, 0 failed, 0 up-to-date, 0 skipped ==========

      But I'll take you word for 2008 and update.

      1. It only provides those warnings when compiling in C++ mode (/TP), but will not warn even with highest warnings (/Wall) enabled when compiling in C mode (/TC).

  2. Studying the standard, I disagree with the assessment of the NCCE. According to the standard, if a variable is declared static, and then declared with no storage-class specifier, it remains static. Thus in the NCCE both i2 and i5 should be valid, not invalid.

    1. David Keaton saez:

      In your comment, I think you might have been confused between static and extern. 6.2.3p4 says "For an identifier with storage-class specifier extern in a scope in which a prior declaration of that identifier is visible, if the prior declaration specifies internal or external linkage, the linkage of the identifier at the later declaration is the same as the linkage specified at the prior declaration." However, there is nothing analogous for static.

  3. GCC4.3.5
    there is no GCC checker specified.  is is on by default?  if so, can you say that?