[PATCH 2/6] treewide: remove using list iterator after loop body as a ptr

Linus Torvalds torvalds at linux-foundation.org
Wed Mar 2 10:55:42 AEDT 2022

On Tue, Mar 1, 2022 at 3:19 PM David Laight <David.Laight at aculab.com> wrote:
> Having said that there are so few users of list_entry_is_head()
> it is reasonable to generate two new names.

Well, the problem is that the users of list_entry_is_head() may be few
- but there are a number of _other_ ways to check "was that the HEAD
pointer", and not all of them are necessarily correct.

IOW, different places do different random tests for "did we walk the
whole loop without breaking out". And many of them happen to work. In
fact, in practice, pretty much *all* of them happen to work, and you
have to have the right struct layout and really really bad luck to hit
a case of "type confusion ended up causing the test to not work".

And *THAT* is the problem here. It's not the "there are 25ish places
that current use list_entry_is_head()".

It's the "there are ~480 places that use the type-confused HEAD entry
that has been cast to the wrong type".

And THAT is why I think we'd be better off with that bigger change
that simply means that you can't use the iterator variable at all
outside the loop, and try to make it something where the compiler can
help catch mis-uses.

Now, making the list_for_each_entry() thing force the iterator to NULL
at the end of the loop does fix the problem. The issue I have with it
is really just that you end up getting no warning at all from the
compiler if you mix old-style and new-style semantics. Now, you *will*
get an oops (if using a new-style iterator with an old-style check),
but many of these things will be in odd driver code and may happen
only for error cases.

And if you use a new-style check with an old-style iterator (ie some
backport problem), you will probably end up getting random memory
corruption, because you'll decide "it's not a HEAD entry", and then
you'll actually *use* the HEAD that has the wrong type cast associated
with it.

See what my worry is?

With the "don't use iterator outside the loop" approach, the exact
same code works in both the old world order and the new world order,
and you don't have the semantic confusion. And *if* you try to use the
iterator outside the loop, you'll _mostly_ (*) get a compiler warning
about it not being initialized.


(*) Unless somebody initializes the iterator pointer pointlessly.
Which clearly does happen. Thus the "mostly". It's not perfect, and
that's most definitely not nice - but it should at least hopefully
make it that much harder to mess up.

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