Linuxdoc Linux Questions
Click here to ask our community of linux experts!
Custom Search
Next Previous Contents

10. Useful Tips

10.1 Stack and Heap

Overview

Here we view how "stack" and "heap" are allocated in memory

Memory allocation


FF..        |                 | <-- bottom of the stack
       /|\  |                 |   | 
 higher |   |                 |   |   stack
 values |   |                 |  \|/  growing
            |                 |
XX..        |                 | <-- top of the stack [Stack Pointer]
            |                 |
            |                 |
            |                 |
00..        |_________________| <-- end of stack [Stack Segment]
                 
                   Stack

Memory address values start from 00.. (which is also where Stack Segment begins) and they grow going toward FF.. value.

XX.. is the actual value of the Stack Pointer.

Stack is used by functions for:

  1. global variables
  2. local variables
  3. return address

For example, for a classical function:


 |int foo_function (parameter_1, parameter_2, ..., parameter_n) {
    |variable_1 declaration;
    |variable_2 declaration;
      ..
    |variable_n declaration;
   
    |// Body function
    |dynamic variable_1 declaration;
    |dynamic variable_2 declaration;
     ..
    |dynamic variable_n declaration;
   
    |// Code is inside Code Segment, not Data/Stack segment!
    
    |return (ret-type) value; // often it is inside some register, for i386 eax register is used.
 |}
we have

          |                       |
          | 1. parameter_1 pushed | \
    S     | 2. parameter_2 pushed |  | Before 
    T     | ...................   |  | the calling
    A     | n. parameter_n pushed | /
    C     | ** Return address **  | -- Calling
    K     | 1. local variable_1   | \ 
          | 2. local variable_2   |  | After
          | .................     |  | the calling
          | n. local variable_n   | /
          |                       | 
         ...                     ...   Free
         ...                     ...   stack
          |                       |
    H     | n. dynamic variable_n | \
    E     | ...................   |  | Allocated by
    A     | 2. dynamic variable_2 |  | malloc & kmalloc
    P     | 1. dynamic variable_1 | /
          |_______________________|
        
            Typical stack usage
 
Note: variables order can be different depending on hardware architecture.

10.2 Application vs Process

Base definition

We have to distinguish 2 concepts:

Often Process is also called Task or Thread.

10.3 Locks

Overview

2 kind of locks:

  1. intraCPU
  2. interCPU

10.4 Copy_on_write

Copy_on_write is a mechanism used to reduce memory usage. It postpones memory allocation until the memory is really needed.

For example, when a task executes the "fork()" system call (to create another task), we still use the same memory pages as the parent, in read only mode. When a task WRITES into the page, it causes an exception and the page is copied and marked "rw" (read, write).

 
1-) Page X is shared between Task Parent and Task Child
 Task Parent
 |         | RO Access  ______
 |         |---------->|Page X|    
 |_________|           |______|
                          /|\
                           |
 Task Child                | 
 |         | RO Access     |  
 |         |----------------                
 |_________| 
 
 
2-) Write request
 Task Parent
 |         | RO Access  ______
 |         |---------->|Page X|    Trying to write
 |_________|           |______|
                          /|\
                           |
 Task Child                | 
 |         | RO Access     |  
 |         |----------------                
 |_________| 
 
 
3-) Final Configuration: Either Task Parent and Task Child have an independent copy of the Page, X and Y
 Task Parent
 |         | RW Access  ______
 |         |---------->|Page X|    
 |_________|           |______|
              
              
 Task Child
 |         | RW Access  ______
 |         |---------->|Page Y|    
 |_________|           |______|

Next Previous Contents