[Gc] Re: Do finalizers run at exit?

Shiro Kawai shiro at lava.net
Sat Dec 29 11:54:02 PST 2007

I haven't read the paper, but I have used finalizers of Bohem GC,
and here's my take (based on my understanding of the code; please
correct me if I'm wrong).

It is _not_ guaranteed that an object's finzalier is called
immediately after the collecting cycle in which the object become
unreachable.  After all live objects are marked normally, GC scans
finalizable objects and marks objects pointed by one or more
of them(*), then run finalizers on objects that are still
unmarked.  Suppose you have object A pointing object B, both
having finalizers, and both become unreachable at one cycle,
B is still marked and only A's finalizer runs just after that
cycle.  If A's finalizer doesn't insert a pointer to B into a
root set, B is still unreachable after this cycle, and it will
be collected and its finalizer will run in the _next_ cycle.
Obviously, if you have a very long chain of finalizable objects,
it will take many GC cycles to call all finalizers.

(* If finalizer is registered as NO_ORDER flag no objects from
finalizable objects are marked.  But you have to take a risk that
finalizer will see objects that are already finalized.)

During program execution, such delay is hidden and only
observable as increased average time of objects being collected,
but if all finalizers needs to be invoked upon program exit,
it may wait long time (or worse, it won't stop).

There is a function (at least in 6.8), GC_finalize_all, that 
repeatedly invokes finalizers and queues finalizable objects
until all finalizers are run.  If you desperately need to run
all finalizers upon program exit, probably you can set up
atexit handler and call it.  It is only defined if GC is
configured with JAVA_FINALIZATION I assume, and declared in
gc/include/javaxfc.h in 6.8.  Read the comment in the header
for the reason it is not a public API.
(GC developers may have different recommendation---this is only
what I found as a user of the library).


From: Achilleas Margaritis <axilmar at otenet.gr>
Subject: [Gc] Re: Do finalizers run at exit?
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 17:01:39 +0200

> If you mean the ACM paper, I can not download it with the basic ACM subscription. According to the site, I have to purchase a subscription.
> Since I am not going to do that, could someone please explain to me why finalizers can run after a collection, but not on program exit?
> O/H Bruce Hoult έγραψε:
> > On Dec 30, 2007 12:22 AM, Achilleas Margaritis <axilmar at otenet.gr> wrote:
> >> The question still remains:
> >>
> >> Why finalizers are run after a collection and not on program exit?
> > You have already been pointed in the direction of a paper that
> > explains this more than adequately.
> _______________________________________________
> Gc mailing list
> Gc at linux.hpl.hp.com
> https://www.hpl.hp.com/hosted/linux/mail-archives/gc/

More information about the Gc mailing list