[Comp.Sci.Dept, Utrecht] Note from archiver<at>cs.uu.nl: This page is part of a big collection of Usenet postings, archived here for your convenience. For matters concerning the content of this page, please contact its author(s); use the source, if all else fails. For matters concerning the archive as a whole, please refer to the archive description or contact the archiver.

Subject: comp.programming.threads FAQ [last mod 97/5/24]

This article was archived around: 20 Aug 1997 11:49:24 -0700

All FAQs in Directory: threads-faq
All FAQs posted in: comp.programming.threads
Source: Usenet Version

URL: http://www.serpentine.com/~bos/threads-faq/ Posting-Frequency: monthly Archive-name: threads-faq/part1 Last-modified: Sat May 24 21:52:47 1997
0. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Answers to frequently asked questions for comp.programming.threads: Part 1 of 1 2. Introduction 2.1. Reader contributions and comments 2.2. How to read this FAQ 2.3. Acknowledgments and caveats 3. What are threads? 3.1. Why are threads interesting? 3.2. A little history 4. What are the main families of threads? 4.1. POSIX-style threads 4.2. Microsoft-style threads 4.3. Others 5. Some terminology 5.1. (DCE, POSIX, UI) Async safety 5.2. Asynchronous and blocking system calls 5.3. Context switch 5.4. Critical section 5.5. Lightweight process 5.6. MT safety 5.7. Protection boundary 5.8. Scheduling 6. What are the different kinds of threads? 6.1. Architectural differences 6.2. Performance differences 6.3. Potential problems with functionality 7. Where can I find books on threads? 7.1. POSIX-style threads 7.2. Microsoft-style threads 7.3. Books on implementations 7.4. The POSIX threads standard 8. Where can I obtain training on using threads? 9. (Unix) Are there any freely-available threads packages? 10. (DCE, POSIX, UI) Why does my threaded program not handle signals sensibly? 11. (DCE?, POSIX) Why does everyone tell me to avoid asynchronous cancellation? 12. Why are reentrant library and system call interfaces good? 12.1. (DCE, POSIX, UI) When should I use thread-safe "_r" library calls? 13. (POSIX) How can I perform a join on any thread? 14. (DCE, UI, POSIX) After I create a certain number of threads, my program crashes 15. Where can I find POSIX thread benchmarks? 16. Does any DBMS vendor provide a thread-safe interface? 17. Why is my threaded program running into performance problems? 18. What tools will help me to program with threads? 19. What operating systems provide threads? 20. What about other threads-related software? 21. Where can I find other information on threads? 21.1. Articles appearing in periodicals 22. Notice of copyright and permissions 2. Introduction This posting consists of answers to many of the questions most frequently asked and summaries of the topics most frequently covered on comp.programming.threads, the Usenet newsgroup for discussion of issues in multithreaded programming. The purpose of this posting is to circulate existing information, and to avoid rehashing old topics of discussion and questions. Please read all parts of this document before posting to this newsgroup. The FAQ is posted monthly to comp.programming.threads, in multiple parts. It is also available on the World-Wide Web, at <URL: http://www.serpentine.com/~bos/threads-faq>. You may prefer to browse the FAQ on the Web rather than on Usenet, as it contains many useful hyperlinks (and tables are readable, which is unfortunately not the case for the text version). 2.1. Reader contributions and comments Your contributions, comments, and corrections are welcomed; mail sent to <threads-faq@serpentine.com> will be dealt with as quickly as I can manage. Generally, performing a reply or followup to this article from within your newsreader should do the Right Thing. While I am more than happy to include submissions of material for the FAQ if they seem appropriate, it would make my life a lot easier if such text were proof-read in advance, and kept concise. I don't have as much time as I would like to digest 15K text files and summarise them in three paragraphs for inclusion here. If you are interested in contributing material, please see the to-do list at the end of part 3 of the FAQ. 2.2. How to read this FAQ Some headers in this FAQ are preceded by words in parentheses, such as "(POSIX)". This indicates that the sections in question are specific to a particular threads family, or to the implementation provided by a specific vendor. Wherever it may not otherwise be obvious that a particular section refers only to some families or implementations, you will find one or more of the following key words to help you. Key Implementation DCE OSF/DCE threads (POSIX draft 4) OS/2 IBM OS/2 threads POSIX POSIX 1003.1c-1995 standard threads UI Unix International threads Unix Of general relevance to Unix users WIN32 Microsoft Win32 API threads 2.3. Acknowledgments and caveats Although this FAQ has been the result of a co-operative effort, any blame for inaccuracies and/or errors lies entirely with my work. I would like to thank the following people for their part in contributing to this FAQ: Dave Butenhof <butenhof@zko.dec.com> Bil Lewis <bil@lambdaCS.com> 3. What are threads? A thread is an encapsulation of the flow of control in a program. Most people are used to writing single-threaded programs - that is, programs that only execute one path through their code "at a time". Multithreaded programs may have several threads running through different code paths "simultaneously". Why are some phrases above in quotes? In a typical process in which multiple threads exist, zero or more threads may actually be running at any one time. This depends on the number of CPUs the computer on which the process is running, and also on how the threads system is implemented. A machine with _n_ CPUs can, intuitively enough, run no more than _n_ threads in parallel, but it may give the appearance of running many more than _n_ "simultaneously", by sharing the CPUs among threads. 3.1. Why are threads interesting? A context switch between two threads in a single process is _considerably_ cheaper than a context switch between two processes. In addition, the fact that all data except for stack and registers are shared between threads makes them a natural vehicle for expressing tasks that can be broken down into subtasks that can be run cooperatively. 3.2. A little history If you are interested in reading about the history of threads, see the relevant section of the comp.os.research FAQ at <URL: http://www.serpentine.com/~bos/os-faq>. 4. What are the main families of threads? There are two main families of threads: * POSIX-style threads, which generally run on Unix systems. * Microsoft-style threads, which generally run on PCs. These families can be further subdivided. 4.1. POSIX-style threads This family consists of three subgroups: * "Real" POSIX threads, based on the IEEE POSIX 1003.1c-1995 (also known as the ISO/IEC 9945-1:1996) standard, part of the ANSI/IEEE 1003.1, 1996 edition, standard. POSIX implementations are, not surprisingly, the emerging standard on Unix systems. + POSIX threads are usually referred to as Pthreads. + You will often see POSIX threads referred to as POSIX.1c threads, since 1003.1c is the section of the POSIX standard that deals with threads. + You may also see references to draft 10 of POSIX.1c, which became the standard. * DCE threads are based on draft 4 (an early draft) of the POSIX threads standard (which was originally named 1003.4a, and became 1003.1c upon standardisation). You may find these on some Unix implementations. * Unix International (UI) threads, also known as Solaris threads, are based on the Unix International threads standard (a close relative of the POSIX standard). The only major Unix variants that support UI threads are Solaris 2, from Sun, and UnixWare 2, from SCO. Both DCE and UI threads are fairly compatible with the POSIX threads standard, although converting from either to "real" POSIX threads will require a moderate amount of work. Those few tardy Unix vendors who do not yet ship POSIX threads implementations are expected to do so "real soon now". If you are developing multithreaded applications from scratch on Unix, you would do well to use POSIX threads. 4.2. Microsoft-style threads This family consists of two subgroups, both originally developed by Microsoft. * WIN32 threads are the standard threads on Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows NT. * OS/2 threads are the standard threads on OS/2, from IBM. Although both of these were originally implemented by Microsoft, they have diverged somewhat over the years. Moving from one to the other will require a moderate amount of work. 4.3. Others Mach and its derivatives (such as Digital UNIX) provide a threads package called C threads. This is not very widely used. 5. Some terminology The terms here refer to each other in a myriad of ways, so the best way to navigate through this section is to read it, and then read it again. Don't be afraid to skip forwards or backwards as the need appears. 5.1. (DCE, POSIX, UI) Async safety Some library routines can be safely called from within signal handlers; these are referred to as async-safe. A thread that is executing some async-safe code will not deadlock if it is interrupted by a signal. If you want to make some of your own code async-safe, you should block signals before you obtain any locks. 5.2. Asynchronous and blocking system calls Most system calls, whether on Unix or other platforms, block (or "suspend") the calling thread until they complete, and continue its execution immediately following the call. Some systems also provide asynchronous (or _non-blocking_) forms of these calls; the kernel notifies the caller through some kind of out-of-band method when such a system call has completed. Asynchronous system calls are generally much harder for the programmer to deal with than blocking calls. 5.3. Context switch A context switch is the action of switching a CPU between executing one thread and another (or transferring control between them). This may involve crossing one or more protection boundary. 5.4. Critical section A critical section of code is one in which data that may be accessed by other threads are inconsistent. At a higher level, a critical section can be viewed as a section of code in which a guarantee you make to other threads about the state of some data may not be true. If other threads can access these data during a critical section, your program may not behave correctly. This may cause it to crash, lock up, produce incorrect results, or do just about any other unpleasant thing you care to imagine. Other threads are generally denied access to inconsistent data during a critical section (usually through use of locks). If some of your critical sections are too long, however, it may result in your code performing poorly. 5.5. Lightweight process A lightweight process (also known in some implementations, confusingly, as a _kernel thread_) is a schedulable entity that the kernel is aware of. On most systems, it consists of some execution context and some accounting information (i.e. much less than a full-blown process). Several operating systems allow lightweight processes to be "bound" to particular CPUs; this guarantees that those threads will only execute on the specified CPUs. 5.6. MT safety If some piece of code is described as MT-safe, this indicates that it can be used safely within a multithreaded program, _and_ that it supports a "reasonable" level of concurrency. This isn't very interesting; what you, as a programmer using threads, need to worry about is code that is _not_ MT-safe. MT-unsafe code may use global and/or static data. If you need to call MT-unsafe code from within a multithreaded program, you may need to go to some effort to ensure that only one thread calls that code at any time. Wrapping a global lock around MT-unsafe code will generally let you call it from within a multithreaded program, but since this does not permit concurrent access to that code, it is not considered to make it MT-safe. If you are trying to write MT-safe code using POSIX threads, you need to worry about a few issues such as dealing correctly with locks across calls to fork(2) (if you are wondering what to do, read about the pthread_atfork(3) library call). 5.7. Protection boundary A protection boundary protects one software subsystem on a computer from another, in such a way that only data that is explicitly shared across such a boundary is accessible to the entities on both sides. In general, all code within a protection boundary will have access to all data within that boundary. The canonical example of a protection boundary on most modern systems is that between processes and the kernel. The kernel is protected from processes, so that they can only examine or change its internal state in certain strictly-defined ways. Protection boundaries also exist between individual processes on most modern systems. This prevents one buggy or malicious process from wreaking havoc on others. Why are protection boundaries interesting? Because transferring control across them is expensive; it takes a lot of time and work. 5.8. Scheduling Scheduling involves deciding what thread should execute next on a particular CPU. It is usually also taken as involving the context switch to that thread. 6. What are the different kinds of threads? There are two main kinds of threads implementations: * User-space threads, and * Kernel-supported threads. There are several sets of differences between these different threads implementations. 6.1. Architectural differences User-space threads live without any support from the kernel; they maintain all of their state in user space. Since the kernel does not know about them, they cannot be scheduled to run on multiple processors in parallel. Kernel-supported threads fall into two classes. * In a "pure" kernel-supported system, the kernel is responsible for scheduling all threads. * Systems in which the kernel cooperates with a user-level library to do scheduling are known as _two-level_, or _hybrid_, systems. Typically, the kernel schedules LWPs, and the user-level library schedules threads onto LWPs. Because of its performance problems (caused by the need to cross the user/kernel protection boundary twice for _every_ thread context switch), the former class has fewer members than does the latter (at least on Unix variants). Both classes allow threads to be run across multiple processors in parallel. 6.2. Performance differences In terms of context switch time, user-space threads are the fastest, with two-level threads coming next (all other things being equal). However, if you have a multiprocessor, user-level threads can only be run on a single CPU, while both two-level and pure kernel-supported threads can be run on multiple CPUs simultaneously. 6.3. Potential problems with functionality Because the kernel does not know about user threads, there is a danger that ordinary blocking system calls will block the entire process (this is _bad_) rather than just the calling thread. This means that user-space threads libraries need to jump through hoops in order to provide "blocking" system calls that don't block the entire process. This problem also exists with two-level kernel-supported threads, though it is not as acute as for user-level threads. What usually happens here is that system calls block entire LWPs. This means that if more threads exist than do LWPs and all of the LWPs are blocked in system calls, then other threads that could potentially make forward progress are prevented from doing so. The Solaris threads library provides a reasonable solution to this problem. If the kernel notices that all LWPs in a process are blocked, it sends a signal to the process. This signal is caught by the user-level threads library, which can create another LWP so that the process will continue to make progress. 7. Where can I find books on threads? There are several books available on programming with threads, with more due out in the near future. Note also that the programmer's manuals that come with most systems that provide threads packages will have sections on using those threads packages. 7.1. POSIX-style threads David R. Butenhof, _Programming with POSIX Threads_. Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-63392-2. This book gives a comprehensive and well-structured overview of programming with POSIX threads, and is a good text for the working programming to work from. Detailed examples and discussions abound. Steve Kleiman, Devang Shah and Bart Smaalders, _Programming With Threads_. SunSoft Press, ISBN 0-13-172389-8. <URL: http://www.sun.com/smi/ssoftpress/books/Kleiman/Kleiman.h tml> This book goes into considerably greater depth than the other SunSoft Press offering (see below), and is also recommended for the working programmer who expects to deal with threads on a day-to-day basis. It includes many detailed examples. Bil Lewis and Daniel J. Berg, _Threads Primer_. SunSoft Press, ISBN 0-13-443698-9. <URL: http://www.sun.com/smi/ssoftpress/books/Lewis/Lewis.html> This is a good introduction to programming with threads for programmers and managers. It concentrates on UI and POSIX threads, but also covers use of OS/2 and WIN32 threads. Charles J. Northrup, _Programming With Unix Threads_. John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-13751-0. <URL: http://www.wiley.com/compbooks/catalog/14/13751-0.html> This book details the UI threads interface, focusing mostly on the Unixware implementation. This is an introductory book. 7.2. Microsoft-style threads Jim Beveridge, Robert Wiener, _Multithreading Applications in Win32_. Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-44234-5. <URL: http://www.aw.com/devpress/titles/44234.html>. Seasoned Win32 programmers, neophytes, and programmers being dragged kicking and screaming from the Unix world are all likely to find this book a useful resource. It doubles as primer and reference on writing and debugging robust multithreaded code, and provides a thorough exposition on the subject. Len Dorfman, Marc J. Neuberger, _Effective Multithreading with OS/2_. Publisher and ISBN unknown. This book covers the OS/2 threads API and contains many examples, but doesn't have much by way of concepts. Thuan Q. Pham, Pankaj K. Garg, _Multithreaded Programming with Windows NT_. Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-131-20643-5. <URL: http://www.prenhall.com/013/120642/12064-2.html> Not surprisingly, this book focuses on WIN32 threads, but it also mentions other libraries in passing. It also deals with some relatively advanced topics, and has a thorough bibliography. 7.3. Books on implementations If you are interested in how modern operating systems support threads and multiprocessors, there are a few excellent books available that may be of interest to you. Curt Schimmel, _Unix Systems for Modern Architectures_. Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-63338-8. <URL: http://www.aw.com/cp/schimmel.html> This book gives a lucid account of the work needed to get Unix (or, for that matter, more or less anything else) working on a modern system that incorporates multiple processors, each with its own cache. While it has some overlap with the Vahalia book (see below), it has a smaller scope, and thus deals with shared topics in more detail. Uresh Vahalia, _Unix Internals: the New Frontiers_. Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-101908-2. <URL: http://www.prenhall.com/013/101907/10190-7.html> This is the best kernel internals book currently available. It deals extensively with building multithreaded kernels, implementing LWPs, and scheduling on multiprocessors. Given a choice, I would buy _both_ this and the Schimmel book. Ben Catanzaro, _Multiprocessor System Architectures_. SunSoft Press, ISBN 0-13-089137-1. <URL: http://www.sun.com/smi/ssoftpress/books/Catanzaro/Catanza ro.html> I don't know much about this book, but it deals with both the hardware and software (kernel and user) architectures used to put together modern multiprocessor systems. 7.4. The POSIX threads standard To order ISO/IEC standard 9945-1:1996, which is also known as ANSI/IEEE POSIX 1003.1-1995 (and includes 1003.1c, the part that deals with threads), you can call +1-908-981-1393. The document reference number in the IEEE publications catalogue is SH 94352-NYF, and the price to US customers is $120 (shipping overseas costs extra). Unless you are implementing a POSIX threads package, you should not ever need to look at the POSIX threads standard. It is the last place you should look if you wish to learn about threads! Neither IEEE nor ISO makes standards available for free; please do not ask whether the POSIX threads standard is available on the Web. It isn't. 8. Where can I obtain training on using threads? Organisation Contact Description Sun Microsystems <training_seats@Sun.COM> +1-408-276-3630 Classes at Sun and on-site classes Lambda Computer Science (Bil Lewis) <URL: http://www.lambdaCS.com> +1-415-328-8952 Seminars and on-site classes Phoenix Technologies (Chris Crenshaw) <phnxtech@attmail.com> +1-908-286-2118 Marc Staveley <marc@staveley.com> 9. (Unix) Are there any freely-available threads packages? * Xavier Leroy <xleroy@inria.fr> has written a POSIX threads implementation for Linux 2.x that uses pure kernel-supported threads. While the package is currently in alpha testing, it is allegedly very stable. For more information, see <URL: http://pauillac.inria.fr/~xleroy/linuxthreads>. * Michael T. Peterson <mtp@big.aa.net> has written a user-space POSIX and DCE threads package for Intel-based Linux systems; it is called PCthreads. See <URL: http://www.aa.net/~mtp/PCthreads.html> for more information. * Christopher Provenzano <proven@mit.edu> has written a fairly portable implementation of draft 8 of the POSIX threads standard. See <URL: http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/proven/pthreads.html> for further details. _Note_: as far as I can see, development of this library has halted (at least temporarily), and it still contains many serious bugs. * Georgia Tech's OS group has a fairly portable user-level threads implementation of the Mach C threads package. It is called Cthreads, and can be found at <URL: ftp://ftp.cc.gatech.edu/pub/groups/systems/Falcon/cthreads_d istribution.tar.gz>. * Frank Müller, of the POSIX / Ada-Runtime Project (PART) has made available an implementation of draft 6 of the POSIX 1003.4a Pthreads specification, which runs under SunOS 4, Solaris 2.x, SCO Unix, FreeBSD and Linux. For more information, see <URL: file://ftp.cs.fsu.edu/pub/PART/PTHREADS/pthreads_ANNOUNCE>. * Elan Feingold has written a threads package called ethreads; I don't know anything about it, other than that it is available from <URL: ftp://frmap711.mathp7.jussieu.fr/pub/scratch/rideau/misc/thr eads/ethreads/ethreads.tgz>. * QuickThreads is a toolkit for building threads packages, written by David Keppel <pardo@cs.washington.edu>. It is available from <URL: ftp://ftp.cs.washington.edu/pub/qt-001.tar.Z>, with an accompanying tech report at <URL: ftp://ftp.cs.washington.edu/tr/1993/05/UW-CSE-93-05-06.PS.Z> . The code as distributed includes ports for the Alpha, x86, 88000, MIPS, SPARC, VAX, and KSR1. 10. (DCE, POSIX, UI) Why does my threaded program not handle signals sensibly? Signals and threads do not mix well. A lot of programmers start out by writing their code under the mistaken assumption that they can set a signal handler for each thread; this is not the way things work. You can _block_ or _unblock_ signals on a thread-by-thread basis, but this is not the same thing. When it comes to dealing with signals, the best thing you can do is create a thread whose sole purpose is to handle signals for the entire process. This thread should loop calling sigwait(2); this allows it to deal with signals synchronously. You should also make sure that all threads (_including_ the one that calls sigwait) have the signals you are interested in handling blocked. Handling signals synchronously in this way greatly simplifies things. Note, also, that sending signals to other threads within your own process is not a friendly thing to do, unless you are careful with signal masks. For an explanation, see the section on asynchronous cancellation. Finally, using sigwait and installing signals handlers for the signals you are sigwaiting for is a bad idea. 11. (DCE?, POSIX) Why does everyone tell me to avoid asynchronous cancellation? Asynchronous cancellation of threads is, in general, evil. The reason for this is that it is usually (very) difficult to guarantee that the recipient of an asynchronous cancellation request will not be in a critical section. If a thread should die in the middle of a critical section, this will very likely cause your program to misbehave. Code that can deal sensibly with asynchronous cancellation requests is _not_ referred to as async-safe; that means something else (see the terminology section of the FAQ). You won't see much code around that handles asynchronous cancellation requests properly, and you shouldn't try write any of your own unless you have compelling reasons to do so. Deferred cancellation is your friend. 12. Why are reentrant library and system call interfaces good? There are two approaches to providing system calls and library interfaces that will work with multithreaded programs. One is to simply wrap all the appropriate code with mutexes, thereby guaranteeing that only one thread will execute any such routine at a time. While this approach mostly works, it provides terrible performance. For functions that maintain state across multiple invocations (e.g. strtok() and friends), this approach simply doesn't work at all, hence the existence of "_r" interfaces on many Unix systems (see below). A better solution is to ensure that library calls can safely be performed by multiple threads at once. 12.1. (DCE, POSIX, UI) When should I use thread-safe "_r" library calls? If your system provides threads, it will probably provide a set of thread-safe variants of standard C library routines. A small number of these are mandated by the POSIX standard, and many Unix vendors provide their own useful supersets, including functions such as gethostbyname_r(). Unfortunately, the supersets that different vendors support do not necessarily overlap, so you can only _safely_ use the standard POSIX-mandated functions. The thread-safe routines are conceptually "cleaner" than their stateful counterparts, though, so it is good practice to use them wherever and whenever you can. 13. (POSIX) How can I perform a join on any thread? UI threads allow programmers to join on any thread that happens to terminate by passing the appropriate argument to thr_join(). This is not possible under POSIX and, yes, there is a rationale behind the absence of this feature. Unix programmers are used to being able to call wait() in such a way that it will return when "any" process exits, but expecting this to work for threads can cause confusion for programmers trying to use threads. The important thing to note here is that Unix processes are based around a notion of parent and child; this is a notion that is _not_ present in most threads systems. Since threads don't contain this notion, joining on "any" thread could have the undesirable effect of having the join return once a completely unrelated thread happened to exit. In many (perhaps even most) threaded applications, you do not want to be able to join with any thread in your process. Consider, for example, a library call that one of your threads might make, which in its turn might start a few threads and try to join on them. If another of your threads, joining on "any" thread, happened to join on one of the library call's threads, that would lead to incorrect program behaviour. If you want to be able to join on any thread so that, for example, you can keep track of the number of running threads, you can achieve the same functionality by starting detached threads and having them decrememnt a (suitably locked, of course) counter as they exit. 14. (DCE, UI, POSIX) After I create a certain number of threads, my program crashes By default, threads are created non-detached. You need to perform a join on each non-detached thread, or else storage will never be freed up when they exit. As an alternative, you can create detached threads, for which storage will be freed as soon as they exit. This latter approach is generally better; you shouldn't create non-detached threads unless you explicitly need to know when or if they exit. 15. Where can I find POSIX thread benchmarks? I do not know of any benchmarks. 16. Does any DBMS vendor provide a thread-safe interface? Oracle 7.3 and above provide thread-safe database client interfaces, as do Sybase System 11.1 and above, and Informix ESQL 7 and above. If you are still using an older release of any of these products, it is possible to hack together a set of intermediate thread-safe interfaces to your database if you really need it, but this requires a moderately large amount of work. 17. Why is my threaded program running into performance problems? There are many possible causes for performance problems in multithreaded programs. Given the scope for error, all I can do is detail a few common pitfalls briefly, and point you at the section of this FAQ on books about multithreaded programming. * You can probably discount the performance of the threads package you are using almost straight away, unless it is a user-level package. If so, you may want to try to find out whether your whole process is blocking when you execute certain system calls. Otherwise, you should look at your own code unless you have a very strong reason for believing that there may be a problem with your threads package. * Look at the granularity of your locks. If a single lock protects too much data for which there is contention, you will needlessly serialise your code. On the other hand, if your locks protect very small amounts of data, you will spend too much time obtaining and releasing locks. If your vendor is worth their salt, they will have a set of tools available that allow you to profile your program's behaviour and look for areas of high contention for locks. Tools of this kind are invaluable. 18. What tools will help me to program with threads? * The TNF Tools are a set of extensible tools that allow users to gather and analyse trace information from the Solaris kernel and from user processes and threads. They can be used to correlate user and kernel thread activity, and also to determine such things as lock hold times. They are available for free from Sun; for more information, see <URL: http://opcom.sun.ca/toolpages/tnftools.html>. * The debugger that comes with the DevPro compiler set from Sun understands threads. * GDB nominally understands threads, but only supports them (and in a flaky way) under some versions of Irix and a few other systems (mostly embedded machines). 19. What operating systems provide threads? Vendor OS version Threads model POSIX API Notes Digital Digital UNIX 4.0 mixed D4, 1c Digital UNIX 3.2 kernel / bound D4 OpenVMS 7.0 (Alpha) see note 1 D4, 1c user model without patch kit OpenVMS 7.0 (VAX) user D4, 1c OpenVMS 6.2 user D4 HP HP/UX 10.20 _?_ _?_ not yet announced HP/UX 10.10 user D4 IBM AIX 4.1 & 4.2 kernel D4, D7 AIX 3.5.x user DCE OS/2 kernel DCE Linux Linux 1.2.13 and above user / kernel 1c, DCE see free implementations for several packages Linux 2.x kernel _n/a_ clone() interface Microsoft Windows NT & 95 kernel DCE DCE kits layer on top of WIN32 threads SGI Irix 6.2 mixed see note 2 sproc() is still kernel / bound Irix 6.1 kernel / bound _n/a_ sproc() interface only Sun Solaris 2.5 and above mixed / system / bound 1c Solaris 2.4 mixed / system / bound D8 available from Sun only upon request Solaris 2.x mixed / system / bound _n/a_ UI threads supported across all releases SunOS 4.x user _n/a_ LWP only Threads model Meaning user a purely user-level threads system, with threads multiplexed atop a "traditional" Unix-style process kernel threads are "kernel entities" with no context switches taking place in user mode / bound a thread may be explicitly bound to a particular processor mixed a mixed-mode scheduler where user threads are multiplexed across some number of LWPs / system threads have "system" contention scope (a user thread may be permanently bound to an LWP) / bound an LWP may be permanently bound to a particular processor API Meaning _n/a_ no POSIX threads API provided 1c conforms to the POSIX 1003.1c-1995 threads API DCE POSIX 1003.4a draft 4 API is available as part of the OSF DCE kit for the platform D4 DCE threads (or something similar) is bundled with the system D7 POSIX 1003.4a draft 7 API (similar to the final 1003.1c standard, but substantially different in some details) D8 POSIX 1003.4a draft 8 API (identical in most respects to the 1003.1c standard, but with a few "gotchas") 1. OpenVMS 7.0 for Alpha shipped with kernel threads support disabled by default. The "mixed" threads model can be turned on by setting the MULTITHREAD sysgen parameter. With patch kit, the "mixed" or "user" model is determined by the main program binary (i.e. via the linker or the threadcp qualifier) in addition to MULTITHREAD. 2. SGI ships the POSIX 1003.1c API as a patch for Irix 6.2, but it will be bundled with future revisions of the OS. 20. What about other threads-related software? * Douglas C. Schmidt <schmidt@cs.wustl.edu> has written a package called ACE (_Adaptive Communication Environment_). ACE supports multithreading on Unix and WIN32 platforms, and integrates popular IPC mechanisms (sockets, RPC, System V IPC) and a host of other features that C++ programmers will find useful. For details, see <URL: http://www.cs.wustl.edu/~schmidt/ACE.html>. 21. Where can I find other information on threads? * The most comprehensive collection of threads-related information on the Web is at Sun's threads page, at <URL: http://www.sun.com/sunsoft/Products/Developer-products/sig/t hreads>. * IBM has a thorough treatment of AIX 4.1 threads (based on POSIX draft 7) at <URL: http://developer.austin.ibm.com/sdp/library/ref/about4.1/df4 threa.html>. * Digital has a brief overview of threads in Digital UNIX at <URL: http://www.unix.digital.com/unix/smp>. * A bibliography on threads is available at <URL: http://liinwww.ira.uka.de/bibliography/Os/threads.html>. * Tom Wagner <wagner@cs.umass.edu> and Don Towsley have written an introductory tutorial on programming with POSIX threads at <URL: http://centaurus.cs.umass.edu/~wagner/threads_html/tutorial. html> 21.1. Articles appearing in periodicals * An introduction to programming with threads, at <URL: http://www.sun.com/sunworldonline/swol-02-1996/swol-02-threa ds.html>, from SunWorld Online's February 1996 issue * An introduction to programming with threads, at <URL: http://developer.austin.ibm.com/sdp/library/aixpert/nov94/ai xpert_nov94_intrmult.html>, from AIXpert Magazine's November 1994 issue * Porting DCE threads to AIX 4.1 (POSIX draft 7), at <URL: http://www.developer.ibm.com/sdp/library/aixpert/aug94/aixpe rt_aug94_PTHREADS.html>, from AIXpert Magazine's August 1994 issue * A less thorough introduction to programming with threads, at <URL: http://developer.austin.ibm.com/sdp/library/aixpert/aug95/ai xpert_aug95_thread.html>, from AIXpert Magazine's August 1995 issue * Using signals with POSIX threads, at <URL: http://developer.austin.ibm.com/sdp/library/aixpert/aug95/ai xpert_aug95_signal.html>, from AIXpert Magazine's August 1995 issue 22. Notice of copyright and permissions Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for comp.programming.threads (hereafter referred to as These Articles) are Copyright © 1996 and 1997 by Bryan O'Sullivan (hereafter referred to as The Author). These Documents are provided "as is". The information in them is not warranted to be correct; you use it at your own risk. The Author makes _no representation or warranty_ as to the suitability of the information in These Documents, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of fitness for a particular purpose or non-infringement. The Author shall not be liable for any damages suffered as a result of using information distributed in These Documents or any derivatives. These Documents may be reproduced and distributed in whole or in part, subject to the following conditions: * This copyright and permission notice must be retained on all complete or partial copies of These Articles. * These Articles may be copied or distributed in part or in full for personal or educational use. Any translation, derivative work, or copies made for other purposes must be approved by the copyright holder before distribution, unless otherwise stated. * If you distribute These Articles, instructions for obtaining the complete current versions of them free or at cost price must be included. Redistributors must make reasonable efforts to maintain current copies of These Articles. Exceptions to these rules may be granted, and I shall be happy to answer any questions about this copyright notice - write to Bryan O'Sullivan, PO Box 62215, Sunnyvale, CA 94088-2215, USA or email <bos@serpentine.com>. These restrictions are here to protect the contributors, not to restrict you as educators, professionals and learners.