Dave O. Dave O. - 2 months ago 18
C Question

Thread Safety in C

imagine I write a library in C. Further, imagine this library to be used from a multi-threaded environment. How do I make it thread-safe? More specific: How do I assure, that certain functions are executed only by one thread at a time?

In opposite to Java or C# for example, C has no means to deal with threads/locks/etc., nor does the C standard library. I know, that operating systems support threads, but using their api would restrict the compatibility of my library very much. Which possibilities do I have, to keep my library as compatible/portable as possible? (for example relying on OpenMP, or on Posix threads to keep it compatible with at least all unix-like operating systems?)

Answer

You can create wrappers with #ifdef. It's really the best you can do. (Or you can use a third party library to do this).

I'll show how I did it as an example for windows and linux. It's in C++ and not C but again it's just an example:

#ifdef WIN32
typedef HANDLE thread_t;
typedef unsigned ThreadEntryFunction;
#define thread __declspec(thread)

class Mutex : NoCopyAssign
{
public:
    Mutex() { InitializeCriticalSection(&mActual); }
    ~Mutex() { DeleteCriticalSection(&mActual); }
    void Lock() { EnterCriticalSection(&mActual); }
    void Unlock() { LeaveCriticalSection(&mActual); }
private:
    CRITICAL_SECTION mActual;
};

class ThreadEvent : NoCopyAssign
{
public:
    ThreadEvent() { Actual = CreateEvent(NULL, false, false, NULL); }
    ~ThreadEvent() { CloseHandle(Actual); }
    void Send() { SetEvent(Actual); }

    HANDLE Actual;
};
#else
typedef pthread_t thread_t;
typedef void *ThreadEntryFunction;
#define thread __thread
extern pthread_mutexattr_t MutexAttributeRecursive;

class Mutex : NoCopyAssign
{
public:
    Mutex() { pthread_mutex_init(&mActual, &MutexAttributeRecursive); }
    ~Mutex() { pthread_mutex_destroy(&mActual); }
    void Lock() { pthread_mutex_lock(&mActual); }
    void Unlock() { pthread_mutex_unlock(&mActual); }
private:
    pthread_mutex_t mActual;
};

class ThreadEvent : NoCopyAssign
{
public:
    ThreadEvent() { pthread_cond_init(&mActual, NULL); }
    ~ThreadEvent() { pthread_cond_destroy(&mActual); }

    void Send() { pthread_cond_signal(&mActual); }
private:
    pthread_cond_t mActual;
};

inline thread_t GetCurrentThread() { return pthread_self(); }
#endif

/* Allows for easy mutex locking */
class MutexLock : NoAssign
{
public:
    MutexLock(Mutex &m) : mMutex(m) { mMutex.Lock(); }
    ~MutexLock() { mMutex.Unlock(); }
private:
    Mutex &mMutex;
};
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