OneRaynyDay OneRaynyDay - 10 months ago 44
Linux Question

c - spawned a bash shell. Shell died but pipe not broken?


I'm trying to pipe contents from the main routine to a execvp'd bash shell. I'm encountering a problem where when I write "exit" into the subshell, it doesn't tell me that the pipe is really broken. It should be though - right? The process died and thus the pipe fd should also return an EOF or a SIGPIPE. It doesn't, however, and just keeps on reading/writing like normal.


The code is attached here:

* Includes:
* ioctl - useless(?)
* termios, tcsetattr, tcgetattr - are for setting the
* noncanonical, character-at-a-time terminal.
* fork, exec - creating the child process for part 2.
* pthread, pipe - creating the pipe process to communicate
* with the child shell.
* kill - to exit the process
* atexit - does some cleanups. Used in termios, tcsetattr,
* tcgetattr.
#include <sys/ioctl.h> // ioctl
#include <termios.h> // termios, tcsetattr, tcgetattr
#include <unistd.h> // fork, exec, pipe
#include <sys/wait.h> // waitpid
#include <pthread.h> // pthread
#include <signal.h> // kill
#include <stdlib.h> // atexit
#include <stdio.h> // fprintf and other utility functions
#include <getopt.h> // getopt
pid_t pid;

static const int BUFFER_SIZE = 16;
static const int STDIN_FD = 0;
static const int STDOUT_FD = 1;
static const int STDERR_FD = 2;

// these attributes are reverted to later
struct termios saved_attributes;
// to revert the saved attributes
reset_input_mode (void) {
tcsetattr (STDIN_FILENO, TCSANOW, &saved_attributes);

// to set the input mode to correct non-canonical mode.
set_input_mode (void) {
struct termios tattr;

/* Make sure stdin is a terminal. */
if (!isatty (STDIN_FILENO))
fprintf (stderr, "Not a terminal.\n");

/* Save the terminal attributes so we can restore them later. */
tcgetattr (STDIN_FILENO, &saved_attributes);
atexit (reset_input_mode);

/* Set the funny terminal modes. */
tcgetattr (STDIN_FILENO, &tattr);
tattr.c_lflag &= ~(ICANON|ECHO); /* Clear ICANON and ECHO. */
tattr.c_cc[VMIN] = 1;
tattr.c_cc[VTIME] = 0;
tcsetattr (STDIN_FILENO, TCSAFLUSH, &tattr);

// pthread 1 will read from pipe_fd[0], which
// is really the child's pipe_fd[1](stdout).
// It then prints out the contents.
void* thread_read(void* arg){
int* pipe_fd = ((int *) arg);
int read_fd = pipe_fd[0];
int write_fd = pipe_fd[1];
char c;
int bytes_read = read(read_fd, &c, 1);
if(bytes_read > 0){
fprintf(stdout, "The read broke.");

// pthread 2 will write to child_pipe_fd[1], which
// is really the child's stdin.
// but in addition to writing to child_pipe_fd[1],
// we must also print to stdout what our
// argument was into the terminal. (so pthread 2
// does extra).
void* thread_write(void* arg){
int* pipe_args = ((int *) arg);
int child_read_fd = pipe_args[0];
int child_write_fd = pipe_args[1];
int parent_read_fd = pipe_args[2];
int parent_write_fd = pipe_args[3];
char c;
while(1) {
int bytes_read = read(STDIN_FD, &c, 1);
write(child_write_fd, &c, bytes_read);
if(c == 0x04){
// If an EOF has been detected, then
// we need to close the pipes.
kill(pid, SIGHUP);

int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
* Getopt process here for --shell
int child_pipe_fd[2];
int parent_pipe_fd[2];

// We need to spawn a subshell.
pid = fork();
if(pid < 0){
perror("Forking was unsuccessful. Exiting");
else if(pid == 0){ // is the child.
// We dup the fd and close the pipe.

close(0); // close stdin. child's pipe should read.
dup(child_pipe_fd[0]); // pipe_fd[0] is the read. Make read the stdin.

close(1); // close stdout
dup(parent_pipe_fd[1]); // pipe_fd[1] is the write. Make write the stdout.

char* BASH[] = {"/bin/bash", NULL};
execvp(BASH[0], BASH);
else{ // is the parent
// We dup the fd and close the pipe.
// create 2 pthreads.
// pthread 1 will read from pipe_fd[0], which
// is really the child's pipe_fd[1](stdout).
// It then prints out the contents.
// pthread 2 will write to pipe_fd[1], which
// is really the child's pipe_fd[0](stdin)
// but in addition to writing to pipe_fd[1],
// we must also print to stdout what our
// argument was into the terminal. (so pthread 2
// does extra).
// We also need to take care of signal handling:
signal(SIGINT, sigint_handler);
/*signal(SIGPIPE, sigpipe_handler);*/
int write_args[] = {child_pipe_fd[0], child_pipe_fd[1],
parent_pipe_fd[0], parent_pipe_fd[1]};

pthread_t t[2];
pthread_create(t, NULL, thread_read, parent_pipe_fd);
pthread_create(t+1, NULL, thread_write, write_args);

pthread_join(t[0], NULL);
pthread_join(t[1], NULL);

int status;
if (waitpid(pid, &status, 0) == -1) {
perror("Waiting for child failed.");

printf("Subshell exited with the error code %d", status);

return 0;

The program basically pipes inputs from the terminal into the subshell and tries to execute them and return the outputs. To write to the pipe, I have a pthread that writes the stdin inputs into the subshell. To read to the pipe, I have a pthread that reads the pipe to the parent. To detect the broken pipe via the subshell dying(calling exit), I detect the EOF character from the read thread.

My attempts

I added a check for the 0x04 character(EOF), I checked for
read_bytes == 0
read_bytes < 0
. It seems that it never gets the memo unless I explicitly close the pipes on the writing end. It only meets the EOF character if I send the character ^D(which, in my code, handles via closing all pipes of the child & parent).

Any comments would be appreciated! Thank you.

Answer Source

Your parent process is holding copies of the child's file descriptors. Thus, even after the child has exited, those FDs are still open -- so the other ends of those pipelines remain open as well, preventing any SIGPIPE.

Modify your code as follows:

else {
  // pid >0; this is the parent
  close(child_pipe_fd[0]);  // ADD THIS LINE
  close(parent_pipe_fd[1]); // ADD THIS LINE