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1This document describes some caveats about the use of Valgrind with 2Python. Valgrind is used periodically by Python developers to try 3to ensure there are no memory leaks or invalid memory reads/writes. 4 5If you don't want to read about the details of using Valgrind, there 6are still two things you must do to suppress the warnings. First, 7you must use a suppressions file. One is supplied in 8Misc/valgrind-python.supp. Second, you must do one of the following: 9 10 * Uncomment Py_USING_MEMORY_DEBUGGER in Objects/obmalloc.c, 11 then rebuild Python 12 * Uncomment the lines in Misc/valgrind-python.supp that 13 suppress the warnings for PyObject_Free and PyObject_Realloc 14 15If you want to use Valgrind more effectively and catch even more 16memory leaks, you will need to configure python --without-pymalloc. 17PyMalloc allocates a few blocks in big chunks and most object 18allocations don't call malloc, they use chunks doled about by PyMalloc 19from the big blocks. This means Valgrind can't detect 20many allocations (and frees), except for those that are forwarded 21to the system malloc. Note: configuring python --without-pymalloc 22makes Python run much slower, especially when running under Valgrind. 23You may need to run the tests in batches under Valgrind to keep 24the memory usage down to allow the tests to complete. It seems to take 25about 5 times longer to run --without-pymalloc. 26 27Apr 15, 2006: 28 test_ctypes causes Valgrind 3.1.1 to fail (crash). 29 test_socket_ssl should be skipped when running valgrind. 30 The reason is that it purposely uses uninitialized memory. 31 This causes many spurious warnings, so it's easier to just skip it. 32 33 34Details: 35-------- 36Python uses its own small-object allocation scheme on top of malloc, 37called PyMalloc. 38 39Valgrind may show some unexpected results when PyMalloc is used. 40Starting with Python 2.3, PyMalloc is used by default. You can disable 41PyMalloc when configuring python by adding the --without-pymalloc option. 42If you disable PyMalloc, most of the information in this document and 43the supplied suppressions file will not be useful. As discussed above, 44disabling PyMalloc can catch more problems. 45 46If you use valgrind on a default build of Python, you will see 47many errors like: 48 49 ==6399== Use of uninitialised value of size 4 50 ==6399== at 0x4A9BDE7E: PyObject_Free (obmalloc.c:711) 51 ==6399== by 0x4A9B8198: dictresize (dictobject.c:477) 52 53These are expected and not a problem. Tim Peters explains 54the situation: 55 56 PyMalloc needs to know whether an arbitrary address is one 57 that's managed by it, or is managed by the system malloc. 58 The current scheme allows this to be determined in constant 59 time, regardless of how many memory areas are under pymalloc's 60 control. 61 62 The memory pymalloc manages itself is in one or more "arenas", 63 each a large contiguous memory area obtained from malloc. 64 The base address of each arena is saved by pymalloc 65 in a vector. Each arena is carved into "pools", and a field at 66 the start of each pool contains the index of that pool's arena's 67 base address in that vector. 68 69 Given an arbitrary address, pymalloc computes the pool base 70 address corresponding to it, then looks at "the index" stored 71 near there. If the index read up is out of bounds for the 72 vector of arena base addresses pymalloc maintains, then 73 pymalloc knows for certain that this address is not under 74 pymalloc's control. Otherwise the index is in bounds, and 75 pymalloc compares 76 77 the arena base address stored at that index in the vector 78 79 to 80 81 the arbitrary address pymalloc is investigating 82 83 pymalloc controls this arbitrary address if and only if it lies 84 in the arena the address's pool's index claims it lies in. 85 86 It doesn't matter whether the memory pymalloc reads up ("the 87 index") is initialized. If it's not initialized, then 88 whatever trash gets read up will lead pymalloc to conclude 89 (correctly) that the address isn't controlled by it, either 90 because the index is out of bounds, or the index is in bounds 91 but the arena it represents doesn't contain the address. 92 93 This determination has to be made on every call to one of 94 pymalloc's free/realloc entry points, so its speed is critical 95 (Python allocates and frees dynamic memory at a ferocious rate 96 -- everything in Python, from integers to "stack frames", 97 lives in the heap).