Stack Guard Page

The most interesting little tidbit I learnt from the memory usage
debugging yesterday was
about the “stack guard page”. Look at this bit in the strace:

mmap2(NULL, 10489856, PROT_READ|PROT_WRITE, MAP_PRIVATE|MAP_ANONYMOUS, -1, 0) = 0xb7219000
mprotect(0xb7219000, 4096, PROT_NONE)   = 0
clone(child_stack=0xb7c194c4, flags=CLONE_VM|...) = 2282

What’s going on here is that libc is mapping an area for the thread’s
stack, just before spawning thread. The interesting bit is that, using
mprotect(), it also changes the permissions on the first page
(the page at the top of the stack) such that any instruction which
attempts to write to the page will cause a segmentation fault.

That’s your stack guard page; it means that your infinitely recursing
function won’t go off an scribble over its neighbouring thread’s stack,
it’ll just segfault like a good little thread.

(In true pthreads tradition, you can even configure the size of
this guard area – see the pthread_attr_setguardsize() manpage)