Hanno Fietz Hanno Fietz - 3 months ago 25
Java Question

How do I debug Segfaults occurring in the JVM when it runs my code?

My Java application has started to crash regularly with a SIGSEGV and a dump of stack data and a load of information in a text file.

I have debugged C programs in gdb and I have debugged Java code from my IDE. I'm not sure how to approach C-like crashes in a running Java program.

I'm assuming I'm not looking at a JVM bug here. Other Java programs run just fine, and the JVM from Sun is probably more stable than my code. However, I have no idea how I could even cause segfaults with Java code. There definitely is enough memory available, and when I last checked in the profiler, heap usage was around 50% with occasional spikes around 80%. Are there any startup parameters I could investigate? What is a good checklist when approaching a bug like this?

Though I'm not so far able to reliably reproduce the event, it does not seem to occur entirely at random either, so testing is not completely impossible.

ETA: Some of the gory details

(I'm looking for a general approach, since the actual problem might be very specific. Still, there's some info I already collected and that may be of some value.)

A while ago, I had similar-looking trouble after upgrading my CI server (see here for more details), but that fix (setting

) did not help this time.

Further investigation revealed that in the crash log files the thread marked as "current thread" is never one of mine, but either one called "VMThread" or one called "GCTaskThread"- I f it's the latter, it is additionally marked with the comment "(exited)", if it's the former, the GCTaskThread is not in the list. This makes me suppose that the problem might be around the end of a GC operation.

Answer Source

I'm assuming I'm not looking at a JVM bug here. Other Java programs run just fine, and the JVM from Sun is probably more stable than my code.

I don't think you should make that assumption. Without using JNI, you should not be able to write Java code that causes a SIGSEGV (although we know it happens). My point is, when it happens, it is either a bug in the JVM (not unheard of) or a bug in some JNI code. If you don't have any JNI in your own code, that doesn't mean that you aren't using some library that is, so look for that. When I have seen this kind of problem before, it was in an image manipulation library. If the culprit isn't in your own JNI code, you probably won't be able to 'fix' the bug, but you may still be able to work around it.

First, you should get an alternate JVM on the same platform and try to reproduce it. You can try one of these alternatives.

If you cannot reproduce it, it likely is a JVM bug. From that, you can either mandate a particular JVM or search the bug database, using what you know about how to reproduce it, and maybe get suggested workarounds. (Even if you can reproduce it, many JVM implementations are just tweaks on Oracle's Hotspot implementation, so it might still be a JVM bug.)

If you can reproduce it with an alternative JVM, the fault might be that you have some JNI bug. Look at what libraries you are using and what native calls they might be making. Sometimes there are alternative "pure Java" configurations or jar files for the same library or alternative libraries that do almost the same thing.

Good luck!

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