[BUG PROPOSAL]: C++ code that calls JNI_CreateJavaVM can be exited by java

Adam Farley8 adam.farley at uk.ibm.com
Thu Sep 21 15:11:13 UTC 2017

Hi David and Alan,

I'm on vacation for next week and can't guarantee an online presence.

Andrew Leonard has volunteered to help out on this while I'm away.

I've brought him up-to-date on the core points, and he has the diffs 
and tests if anyone needs another copy.

Best Regards

Adam Farley

-- Previous Email --

Hi David, Alan,

You are right in that the changes to HotSpot would be nontrivial. 
I see a number of places in (e.g.) arguments.cpp that seem to 
exit in the same manner as Xlog (such as -Xinternalversion).

I would advise ploughing through the CSR process to alter the 
JNI spec, and simultaneously identify some key paths that can 
be raised as bugs. That way, when people have time to address 
these issues, the mechanism to handle a silent exit is already 
in place. 

The JDWP fix can be raised separately as one of these bugs, if 
it would make things simpler. 

As for the name, JNI_SILENT_EXIT is a placeholder, and can be 
readily changed. Do you have any suggestions?

Lastly, in an ideal world, the VM initialisation should never exit(#). It
should return a return code that tells the caller something, pass or 
fail, messy or tidy. That way, if someone is using the JNI as part of 
something bigger (like a database or a web server), one of these 
scenarios is just a bug, rather than a world-ender like exit(#).

And now for the individual messages. :)

David: Having help data returned by the launcher seems like a
good way to avoid exit(0) calls, but I'm not sure how we'd prevent 
a JNI-caller using those options. Ultimately, to be sure, we'd have
to remove the logic for those options, centralise the data to better
enable launcher access, and add some logic in there so it can find 
any other help data (e.g. from the jdwp agent library). I feel this would 
be a bigger task than adding the new return code and changing the
vm, plus it wouldn't provide for any non-help scenarios where the
vm wants to shut down without error during initialisation.

Alan: I should mention that the silent exit solution is already in
use in the OpenJ9 VM. Not all of the exit paths have been 
resolved, but many have.

The code is open and can be found here: 

And though the silent exit code is disabled for the time being, it
can be re-enabled by entering this class:


and altering line 2343 ( ctrl-f for exit(1) if it's not there).

I won't paste the full code here in case people are concerned
about contamination, but I would assert that this code (and the
associated vm files) prove that the concept is possible.

Note that that code should not be enabled until after we've 
integrated the code that can handle a silent exit.

Best Regards

Adam Farley

P.S. Thank you both for your efforts on this. :)

From:   David Holmes <david.holmes at oracle.com>
To:     Alan Bateman <Alan.Bateman at oracle.com>, Adam Farley8 
<adam.farley at uk.ibm.com>, core-libs-dev at openjdk.java.net, 
hotspot-runtime-dev at openjdk.java.net, thomas.stuefe at gmail.com
Date:   15/09/2017 12:03
Subject:        Re: [BUG PROPOSAL]: C++ code that calls JNI_CreateJavaVM 
can be exited by java

On 15/09/2017 8:17 PM, Alan Bateman wrote:
> On 15/09/2017 02:47, David Holmes wrote:
>> Hi Adam,
>> I am still very much torn over this one. I think the idea of 
>> print-and-exit flags for a potentially hosted library like the JVM is 
>> just wrong - we should never have done that, but we did. Fixing that 
>> by moving the flags to the launcher is far from trivial**. Endorsing 
>> and encouraging these sorts of flag by adding JNI support seems to be 
>> sending the wrong message.
>> ** I can envisage a "help xxx" Dcmd that can read back the info from 
>> the VM. The launcher can send the Dcmd, print the output and exit. The 
>> launcher would not need to know what the xxx values mean, but would 
>> have to intercept the existing ones.
>> Another option is just to be aware of these flags (are there more than 
>> jdwp and Xlog?) and deal with them specially in your custom launcher - 
>> either filter them out and ignore them, or else launch the VM in its 
>> own process to respond to them.
>> Any changes to the JNI specification need to go through the CSR 
> Yes, it would require an update to the JNI spec, also a change to the 
> JVM TI spec where Agent_OnLoad returning a non-0 value is specified to 
> terminates the VM. The name and value needs discussion too, esp. as the 
> JNI spec uses negative values for failure.
> In any case, I'm also torn over this one as it's a corner case that is 
> only interesting for custom launchers that load agents with options that 

> print usage messages. It wouldn't be hard to have the Agent_OnLoad 
> specify a printf hook that the agent could use for output although there 

> are complications with agents such as JDWP that also announce their 
> transport end point. Beyond that there is still the issue of the custom 
> launcher that would need to know to destroy the VM without reporting an 
> error.
> So what happened to the more meaty part to this which is fixing the 
> various cases in HotSpot that terminate the process during 
> initialization? I would expect some progress could be made on those 
> cases while trying to decide whether to rev the JNI and JVM TI specs to 
> cover the help case.

Trying to eliminate the vm_exit_during_initialization paths in hotspot 
is a huge undertaking IMHO.


> -Alan

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