[Mono-list] Investigating mono crashes on linux 4.1

Taloth Saldono talothsaldono at gmail.com
Mon Jul 20 16:33:53 UTC 2015

Hey guys,

I'm looking for a mono expert on the managed threading system, hopefully
you can give me a pointer to where to look.

The problem a couple of my users experience is that since linux kernel 4.1
mono crashes in a reproducible manner. (Using test case bug-18026 in a
loop, which is a threadpool stress-test)

A similar problem occurred in 3.13.0 but that was fixed by backporting some
commits in the ubuntu kernel. (See

Initially I believed that in 4.1 those commits were reverted, but tests
indicated that wasn't the cause.
So I did a full bisect on linux 4.0-4.1 on a 64-bit Ubuntu 14.04.2
Virtualbox. (~13 compiles of the kernel, took a couple of days)
And it ended up on

The problem seems to cause NullReferenceException and possibly native
SIGSEGVs in a variety of places. (I can dump some stacktraces if desired,
but I suspect that won't be helpful coz the corruption is likely caused

To me it seems impossible that reading the tsc in any way could result in
the nullrefs. So my guess would it a side-effect of the memory barrier.
>From what I understand from the commit, the 'mfence+lfence' changed to
'mfence or lfence' (depending on what the cpu supports) and
mfrence=lfence+sfence (not entirely true, but close), so I have no idea
what the heck is going on there.
But if I would venture an guess that somewhere, indirectly, mono
unknowingly relies on that barrier to be there.
Theoretically it still means other native apps could experience the same
problem, but I would've expected reports about that already.

My experience in these matters is pretty much non-existent. But dumping
issues on devs is the least productive way to get them fixed, so I try to
investigate as far as I can. Especially since it involves an issue that
could be caused by either mono or the kernel.

So my question is: Is there a likely candidate in mono where it uses the
tsc (possibly for profiling) where the changed barrier could cause this odd
behavior? And obviously, is there anything in particular I could try to
narrow this down further?

Almost forgot, but I did the bisect using mono, but I tested the
nightly version as well.

Thank you for your time.

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