A "nested" or "recursive" lock is a special type of lock that permits a lock holder to lock the same resources again and again, without deadlocking on itself. They are
very useful, but tricky to implement because most system lock primitives (SYSV semaphores, POSIX mutexes, etc) do not permit nested locks, so all the logic for
"yes, I am the holder of the lock, yes, I can go ahead without taking it again" (plus the reverse on unlocking) has to be done "by hand". As ever, if implemented
wrong or used wrong, Bad Things happen. Many people dislike nested locks because of the added complexity, but realistically, it is impossible to build a system
that does not require nested locking at least somewhere.
MIDAS lock primitives - ss_semaphore_wait_for(), db_lock_database() and bm_lock_buffer() implement a type of nested locks.
ODB locks implemented in db_lock_database() fully support nested (recursive) locking and this feature is heavily used by the ODB library. Many ODB db_xxx()
functions take the ODB lock, do something, then call another ODB function that also takes the ODB lock recursively. This works well.
Unfortunately, the ODB nested lock implementation is NOT thread-safe. (Unless one is connected through the mserver, in which case, db_xxx() functions ARE
thread-safe because all ODB access is serialized by the mserver RPC mutex).
Event buffer locks implemented in bm_lock_buffer() rely on ss_semaphore_xxx() to provide nested locking.
ss_semaphore_wait_for() uses SYSV semaphores, which do not provide nested locking, except when called from cm_watchdog(). (keep reading).
Because bm_lock_buffer() does not implement nested locking, use of cm_msg() in buffer management code will lead to self-deadlock, as shown in the following
stack trace, where bm_cleanup() is working on the SYSMSG buffer, locked it, then called cm_msg() which is now waiting on the SYSMSG lock, which we are holding
#0 0x00007fff87274e9e in semop ()
#1 0x0000000100024075 in ss_semaphore_wait_for (semaphore_handle=1179654, timeout=300000) at src/system.c:2280
#2 0x0000000100015292 in bm_lock_buffer (buffer_handle=<value temporarily unavailable, due to optimizations>) at src/midas.c:5386
#3 0x000000010000df97 in bm_send_event (buffer_handle=1, source=0x7fff5fbfd430, buf_size=<value temporarily unavailable, due to optimizations>,
async_flag=0) at src/midas.c:6484
#4 0x000000010000e6f5 in cm_msg (message_type=2, filename=<value temporarily unavailable, due to optimizations>, line=4226, routine=0x10004559f
"bm_cleanup", format=0x100045550 "Client '%s' on buffer '%s' removed by %s because process pid %d does not exist") at src/midas.c:722
#5 0x000000010001553c in bm_cleanup_buffer_locked (i=<value temporarily unavailable, due to optimizations>, who=0x100045f42 "bm_open_buffer",
actual_time=869425784) at src/midas.c:4226
#6 0x00000001000167ee in bm_cleanup (who=0x100045f42 "bm_open_buffer", actual_time=869425784, wrong_interval=0) at src/midas.c:4286
#7 0x000000010001ae27 in bm_open_buffer (buffer_name=<value temporarily unavailable, due to optimizations>, buffer_size=100000,
buffer_handle=0x10006e9ac) at src/midas.c:4550
#8 0x000000010001ae90 in cm_msg_register (func=0x100000c60 <process_message>) at src/midas.c:895
#9 0x0000000100009a13 in main (argc=3, argv=0x7fff5fbff3d8) at src/odbedit.c:2790
This example deadlock is not a normal code path - I accidentally exposed this deadlock sequence by adding some extra locking.
But in normal use, cm_msg() is called quite often from cm_watchdog() and as protection against this type of deadlock, MIDAS
ss_semaphore_xxx() has a special case that permits one level of nesting for locks called by code executed from cm_watchdog(). This is a very
clever implementation of partial nested locking.
So again, we are running into problems with cm_msg() - logically it should be at the very bottom of the system hierarchy - everybody calls it from their most
delicate places, while holding various locks, etc - but instead, cm_msg() call the whole MIDAS system all over again - it calls ODB functions, event buffer functions,
etc - mostly to open and to write into the SYSMSG buffer.
If you are reading this, I hope you are getting a better idea of the difference between textbook systems and systems that are used in the field to get some work