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pthread_cond_wait() and pthread_cond_timedwait() take a condition variable and locked mutex as arguments. These functions unlock the mutex until the condition variable is signaled and then relock the mutex before returning. While a thread is waiting on a particular condition variable and mutex, other threads may only wait on the same condition variable if they also pass the same mutex as an argument. This requirement is noted in the Open Group Base Specifications, Issue 6:

As long as at least one thread is blocked on the condition variable. During this time, the effect of an attempt by any thread to wait on that condition variable using a different mutex is undefined.

It also specifies that pthread_cond_wait() may€ fail if:

[EINVAL]
The value specified by cond or mutex is invalid.
[EPERM]
The mutex was not owned by the current thread at the time of the call.

Noncompliant Code Example

In this noncompliant code example, mutex1 protects count1 and mutex2 protects count2. A race condition exists between the waiter1 and waiter2 threads because they use the same condition variable with different mutexes. If both threads attempt to call pthread_cond_wait() at the same time, one thread will succeed and the other thread will invoke undefined behavior.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <pthread.h>
#include <assert.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <errno.h>

pthread_mutex_t mutex1;
pthread_mutex_t mutex2;
pthread_mutexattr_t attr;
pthread_cond_t cv;

void *waiter1();
void *waiter2();
void *signaler();

int count1 = 0, count2 = 0;
#define COUNT_LIMIT 5

int main() {
  int ret;
  pthread_t thread1, thread2, thread3;

  if ((ret = pthread_mutexattr_init( &attr)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_mutexattr_settype( &attr, PTHREAD_MUTEX_ERRORCHECK)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_mutex_init( &mutex1, &attr)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_mutex_init( &mutex2, &attr)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_cond_init( &cv, NULL)) != 0) {
    /* handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_create( &thread1, NULL, &waiter1, NULL))) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_create( &thread2, NULL, &waiter2, NULL))) {
    /* handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_create( &thread3, NULL, &signaler, NULL))) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_join( thread1, NULL)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_join( thread2, NULL)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  if ((ret = pthread_join( thread3, NULL)) != 0) {
    /* Handle error */
  }

  return 0;
}


void *waiter1() {
  int ret;
  while (count1 < COUNT_LIMIT) {
    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_lock(&mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    if ((ret = pthread_cond_wait(&cv, &mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    printf("count1 = %d\n", ++count1);

    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_unlock(&mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  return NULL;
}

void *waiter2() {
  int ret;
  while (count2 < COUNT_LIMIT) {
    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_lock(&mutex2)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    if ((ret = pthread_cond_wait(&cv, &mutex2)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    printf("count2 = %d\n", ++count2);

    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_unlock(&mutex2)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  return NULL;
}

void *signaler() {
  int ret;
  while ((count1 < COUNT_LIMIT) || (count2 < COUNT_LIMIT)) {
    sleep(1);
    printf("signaling\n");
    if ((ret = pthread_cond_signal(&cv)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  return NULL;
}

Implementation Details: Linux

When the system is built on the following platform,

Red Hat Enterprise Linux Client release 5.5 (Tikanga)
kernel 2.6.18
gcc 4.3.5 with the --D_GNU_SOURCE flag

the preceding code works as expected. waiter1 and waiter2 increment the variable once they are signaled, and the correct mutex is acquired after pthread_cond_wait returns in each thread.

The man page for pthread_cond_wait on this configuration says that it may€ fail with a return value of EINVAL if "€œdifferent mutexes were supplied for concurrent pthread_cond_timedwait() or pthread_cond_wait() operations on the same condition variable." However, this does not happen.

Implementation Details: OS X

When the system is built on the following platform,

OS X 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard)
gcc 4.2.1

pthread_cond_wait() returns EINVAL if it is called when another thread is waiting on the condition variable with a different mutex. This approach is arguably better because it forces the coder to fix the problem instead of allowing reliance on undefined behavior.

The man page for pthread_cond_wait()}] simply says that {{EINVAL will be returned if "€œthe value specified by cond or the value specified by mutex is invalid,"€ but it doesn'€™t say what invalid means.

Compliant Solution

This problem can be solved either by always using the same mutex whenever a particular condition variable is used or by using separate condition variables, depending on how the code is expected to work. This compliant solution uses the €œsame-mutex€ solution:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <pthread.h>
 
pthread_mutex_t mutex1; /* Initialized as PTHREAD_MUTEX_ERRORCHECK */
pthread_cond_t cv;
int count1 = 0, count2 = 0;
#define COUNT_LIMIT 5

void *waiter1() {
  int ret;
  while (count1 < COUNT_LIMIT) {
    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_lock(&mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    if ((ret = pthread_cond_wait(&cv, &mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    printf("count1 = %d\n", ++count1);

    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_unlock(&mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  return NULL;
}

void *waiter2() {
  int ret;
  while (count2 < COUNT_LIMIT) {
    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_lock(&mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    if ((ret = pthread_cond_wait(&cv, &mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }

    printf("count2 = %d\n", ++count2);

    if ((ret = pthread_mutex_unlock(&mutex1)) != 0) {
      /* Handle error */
    }
  }

  return NULL;
}

Risk Assessment

Waiting on the same condition variable with two different mutexes could cause a thread to be signaled and resume execution with the wrong mutex locked. It could lead to unexpected program behavior if the same shared data were simultaneously accessed by two threads.

The severity is medium because improperly accessing shared data could lead to data integrity violation. Likelihood is probable because in such an implementation, an error code would not be returned, and remediation cost is high because detection and correction of this problem are both manual.

Rule

Severity

Likelihood

Remediation Cost

Priority

Level

POS53-C

Medium

Probable

High

P4

L3

Automated Detection

Tool

Version

Checker

Description

Parasoft C/C++test
10.4.2

CERT_C-POS53-a

Do not use more than one mutex for concurrent waiting operations on a condition variable


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