My contributions to CPython during 2017 Q3 (july, august, september), Part 3 (funny bugs).

Previous report: My contributions to CPython during 2017 Q3: Part 2 (dangling threads).


  • FreeBSD bug: minor() device regression
  • regrtest snowball effect when hunting memory leaks
  • Bugfixes
  • Other Changes

FreeBSD bug: minor() device regression

Logo of the FreeBSD project

bpo-31044: The test_makedev() of test_posix started to fail in the build 632 (Wed Jul 26 10:47:01 2017) of AMD64 FreeBSD CURRENT. The test failed on Debug, but also Non-Debug buildbots, in master and 3.6 branches. It looks more like a change on the buildbot, maybe a FreeBSD upgrade?

Thanks to koobs, I have a SSH access to the buildbot. I was able to reproduce the bug manually. I noticed that minor() truncates most significant bits.

I continued my analysis and I found that, at May 23, the FreeBSD dev_t type changed from 32 bits to 64 bits in the kernel, but the minor() userland function was not updated.

I reported a bug to FreeBSD: Bug 221048 - minor() truncates device number to 32 bits, whereas dev_t type was extended to 64 bits.

In the meanwhile, I skipped test_posix.test_makedev() on FreeBSD if dev_t is larger than 32-bit.

Hopefully, the FreeBSD bug was quickly fixed!

regrtest snowball effect when hunting memory leaks

While trying to fix all reference leaks on the new Windows and Linux "Refleaks" buildbots, I reported the bug bpo-31217:

test_code leaked [1, 1, 1] memory blocks, sum=3

Two weeks after reporting the bug, I was able to reproduce the bug, but only with Python compiled in 32-bit mode. Strange.

I spent one day to understand the bug. I removed as much as possible while making sure that I can still reproduce the bug. At the end, I wrote which reproduces the bug with a single import: import sys. Even if the script is only 86 lines long, I was still unable to understand the bug.

My first hypothesis:

It seems like the "leak" is the call to sys.getallocatedblocks() which creates a new integer, and the integer is kept alive between two loop iterations.

Antoine Pitrou rejected it:

I doubt it. If that was the case, the reference count would increase as well.

It was Antoine Pitrou who understood the bug:

Actually, it's quite simple :-) On 64-bit Python:

>>> id(82914 - 82913) == id(1)

On 32-bit Python:

>>> id(82914 - 82913) == id(1)

So the first non-zero alloc_delta really has a snowball effect, as it
creates new memory block which will produce a non-zero alloc_delta on the
next run, etc.

I implemented Antoine's idea to fix the bug, commit:

Use a pool of integer objects to prevent false alarm when checking for
memory block leaks. Fill the pool with values in -1000..1000 which
are the most common (reference, memory block, file descriptor)

Co-Authored-By: Antoine Pitrou <>

The bug is probably as old as the code hunting memory leaks.


  • bpo-30891: Second fix for importlib _find_and_load() to handle correctly parallelism with threads. Call sys.modules.get() in the with _ModuleLockManager(name): block to protect the dictionary key with the module lock and use an atomic get to prevent race conditions.
  • bpo-31019: multiprocessing.Process.is_alive() now removes the process from the _children set if the process completed. The change prevents leaking "dangling" processes.
  • bpo-31326, concurrent.futures: ProcessPoolExecutor.shutdown() now explicitly closes the call queue. Moreover, shutdown(wait=True) now also joins the call queue thread, to prevent leaking a dangling thread.
  • bpo-31170: Update libexpat from 2.2.3 to 2.2.4: fix copying of partial characters for UTF-8 input (libexpat bug 115). Later, I also wrote non-regression tests for this bug (libexpat doesn't have any test for this bug).
  • bpo-31499, xml.etree: xmlparser_gc_clear() now sets self.parser to NULL to prevent a crash in xmlparser_dealloc() if xmlparser_gc_clear() was called previously by the garbage collector, because the parser was part of a reference cycle. Fix co-written with Serhiy Storchaka.
  • bpo-30892: Fix _elementtree module initialization (accelerator of xml.etree), handle correctly getattr(copy, 'deepcopy') failure to not fail with an assertion error.

Other Changes

  • bpo-30866: Add _testcapi.stack_pointer(). I used it to write the "Stack consumption" section of a previous report: My contributions to CPython during 2017 Q1
  • _ssl_: Fix compiler warning. Cast Py_buffer.len (Py_ssize_t, signed) to size_t (unsigned) to prevent the "comparison between signed and unsigned integer expressions" warning.
  • bpo-30486: Make cell_set_contents() symbol private. Don't export the cell_set_contents() symbol in the C API.