Re: Is gcc thread-unsafe?

From: Linus Torvalds
Date: Fri Oct 26 2007 - 11:09:21 EST

On Fri, 26 Oct 2007, Bart Van Assche wrote:
> On 10/25/07, Linus Torvalds <> wrote:
> >
> > The gcc developers seem to have had a total disregard for what people
> > want or need, and every time some code generation issue comes up, there's
> > a lot of people on the list that do language-lawyering, rather than admit
> > that there might be a problem.
> Please make a proposal for how gcc should be modified instead of just
> shooting on the gcc people -- the root cause here is the way the C/C++
> memory model is defined. (Note: I'm not in any way involved in gcc
> development.)

Note that I'm very ambivalent about gcc. I think it's a *great* compiler.
I have my doubts about some of the things it does, but hey, it is an old
project, it has accumulated cruft over time, and cleaning things up is
often almost impossible.

And bugs happen. I'm not complaining about that at all either, even if
sometimes a compiler bug is damn frustrating.

And the fact is, most of the gcc developers are great.

So my basic worry about gcc is in fact none of the individual technical
problems themselves - those can be fixed. No, the problem I've seen in gcc
is that _some_ of the developers seem to be total d*ckheads when it comes
to "language definition", and seem to think that it's more important to
read the language spec like a lawyer than it is to solve actual user

And that has come up before. It has nothing to do with this particular
"gcc doesn't create thread-safe code" issue. We had the exact same issue
with gcc creating totally unusable code due to having a fundamentally
braindead memory aliasing model. The language-lawyering people basically
could push their *idiotic* model onto gcc, just by quoting the standard,
and not caring about actual users at all.

And that's a problem. In the kernel, we've historically always cared a lot
about POSIX and SuS, but while conforming to standards have been primary
goals since pretty much day one (ie I asked around about POSIX before the
very first release, and it's how I met some suckers^Wupstanding citizens
to try those early kernels), it has *always* taken a back seat to things
like compatibility with existing apps.

The gcc lists seem to often get to the point where people quote the
standard, and that's that. In that environment, the paper standard (that
hass *nothing* to do with reality) trumps any other argument. "What we do
is _allowed_ by the standard" seems to be a good argument, even if it
breaks real code and there is no sane way to avoid doing it.

And I really don't think it's everybody. At all. But I think it's the case
that sometimes it's easier to quote the standard than write good code, and
so gcc lists have more people quoting the papers than trying to fix some

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