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- 8ch indent, no tabs, except for files in man/ which are 2ch indent,
and still no tabs
- We prefer /* comments */ over // comments, please. This is not C++, after
all. (Yes we know that C99 supports both kinds of comments, but still,
- Don't break code lines too eagerly. We do *not* force line breaks at
80ch, all of today's screens should be much larger than that. But
then again, don't overdo it, ~119ch should be enough really.
- Variables and functions *must* be static, unless they have a
prototype, and are supposed to be exported.
- structs in MixedCase (with exceptions, such as public API structs),
variables + functions in lower_case.
- The destructors always unregister the object from the next bigger
object, not the other way around
- To minimize strict aliasing violations, we prefer unions over casting
- For robustness reasons, destructors should be able to destruct
half-initialized objects, too
- Error codes are returned as negative Exxx. e.g. return -EINVAL. There
are some exceptions: for constructors, it is OK to return NULL on
OOM. For lookup functions, NULL is fine too for "not found".
Be strict with this. When you write a function that can fail due to
more than one cause, it *really* should have "int" as return value
for the error code.
- Do not bother with error checking whether writing to stdout/stderr
- Do not log errors from "library" code, only do so from "main
program" code. (With one exception: it is OK to log with DEBUG level
from any code, with the exception of maybe inner loops).
- Always check OOM. There is no excuse. In program code, you can use
"log_oom()" for then printing a short message, but not in "library" code.
- Do not issue NSS requests (that includes user name and host name
lookups) from PID 1 as this might trigger deadlocks when those
lookups involve synchronously talking to services that we would need
to start up
- Do not synchronously talk to any other service from PID 1, due to
risk of deadlocks
- Avoid fixed-size string buffers, unless you really know the maximum
size and that maximum size is small. They are a source of errors,
since they possibly result in truncated strings. It is often nicer
to use dynamic memory, alloca() or VLAs. If you do allocate fixed-size
strings on the stack, then it is probably only OK if you either
use a maximum size such as LINE_MAX, or count in detail the maximum
size a string can have. (DECIMAL_STR_MAX and DECIMAL_STR_WIDTH
macros are your friends for this!)
Or in other words, if you use "char buf[256]" then you are likely
doing something wrong!
- Stay uniform. For example, always use "usec_t" for time
values. Do not mix usec and msec, and usec and whatnot.
- Make use of _cleanup_free_ and friends. It makes your code much
nicer to read!
- Be exceptionally careful when formatting and parsing floating point
numbers. Their syntax is locale dependent (i.e. "5.000" in en_US is
generally understood as 5, while on de_DE as 5000.).
- Try to use this:
void foo() {
instead of this:
void foo()
But it is OK if you do not.
- Single-line "if" blocks should not be enclosed in {}. Use this:
if (foobar)
instead of this:
if (foobar) {
- Do not write "foo ()", write "foo()".
- Please use streq() and strneq() instead of strcmp(), strncmp() where applicable.
- Please do not allocate variables on the stack in the middle of code,
even if C99 allows it. Wrong:
a = 5;
int b;
b = a;
int b;
a = 5;
b = a;
- Unless you allocate an array, "double" is always the better choice
than "float". Processors speak "double" natively anyway, so this is
no speed benefit, and on calls like printf() "float"s get promoted
to "double"s anyway, so there is no point.
- Do not mix function invocations with variable definitions in one
line. Wrong:
int a = foobar();
uint64_t x = 7;
int a;
uint64_t x = 7;
a = foobar();
- Use "goto" for cleaning up, and only use it for that. i.e. you may
only jump to the end of a function, and little else. Never jump
- Think about the types you use. If a value cannot sensibly be
negative, do not use "int", but use "unsigned".
- Use "char" only for actual characters. Use "uint8_t" or "int8_t"
when you actually mean a byte-sized signed or unsigned
integers. When referring to a generic byte, we generally prefer the
unsigned variant "uint8_t". Do not use types based on "short". They
*never* make sense. Use ints, longs, long longs, all in
unsigned+signed fashion, and the fixed size types
uint8_t/uint16_t/uint32_t/uint64_t/int8_t/int16_t/int32_t and so on,
as well as size_t, but nothing else. Do not use kernel types like
u32 and so on, leave that to the kernel.
- Public API calls (i.e. functions exported by our shared libraries)
must be marked "_public_" and need to be prefixed with "sd_". No
other functions should be prefixed like that.
- In public API calls, you *must* validate all your input arguments for
programming error with assert_return() and return a sensible return
code. In all other calls, it is recommended to check for programming
errors with a more brutal assert(). We are more forgiving to public
users than for ourselves! Note that assert() and assert_return()
really only should be used for detecting programming errors, not for
runtime errors. assert() and assert_return() by usage of _likely_()
inform the compiler that he should not expect these checks to fail,
and they inform fellow programmers about the expected validity and
range of parameters.
- Never use strtol(), atoi() and similar calls. Use safe_atoli(),
safe_atou32() and suchlike instead. They are much nicer to use in
most cases and correctly check for parsing errors.
- For every function you add, think about whether it is a "logging"
function or a "non-logging" function. "Logging" functions do logging
on their own, "non-logging" function never log on their own and
expect their callers to log. All functions in "library" code,
i.e. in src/shared/ and suchlike must be "non-logging". Every time a
"logging" function calls a "non-logging" function, it should log
about the resulting errors. If a "logging" function calls another
"logging" function, then it should not generate log messages, so
that log messages are not generated twice for the same errors.
- Avoid static variables, except for caches and very few other
cases. Think about thread-safety! While most of our code is never
used in threaded environments, at least the library code should make
sure it works correctly in them. Instead of doing a lot of locking
for that, we tend to prefer using TLS to do per-thread caching (which
only works for small, fixed-size cache objects), or we disable
caching for any thread that is not the main thread. Use
is_main_thread() to detect whether the calling thread is the main
- Command line option parsing:
- Do not print full help() on error, be specific about the error.
- Do not print messages to stdout on error.
- Do not POSIX_ME_HARDER unless necessary, i.e. avoid "+" in option string.
- Do not write functions that clobber call-by-reference variables on
failure. Use temporary variables for these cases and change the
passed in variables only on success.
- When you allocate a file descriptor, it should be made O_CLOEXEC
right from the beginning, as none of our files should leak to forked
binaries by default. Hence, whenever you open a file, O_CLOEXEC must
be specified, right from the beginning. This also applies to
sockets. Effectively this means that all invocations to:
a) open() must get O_CLOEXEC passed
b) socket() and socketpair() must get SOCK_CLOEXEC passed
c) recvmsg() must get MSG_CMSG_CLOEXEC set
d) F_DUPFD_CLOEXEC should be used instead of F_DUPFD, and so on
f) invocations of fopen() should take "e"
- We never use the POSIX version of basename() (which glibc defines it in
libgen.h), only the GNU version (which glibc defines in string.h).
The only reason to include libgen.h is because dirname()
is needed. Everytime you need that please immediately undefine
basename(), and add a comment about it, so that no code ever ends up
using the POSIX version!
- Use the bool type for booleans, not integers. One exception: in public
headers (i.e those in src/systemd/sd-*.h) use integers after all, as "bool"
is C99 and in our public APIs we try to stick to C89 (with a few extension).
- When you invoke certain calls like unlink(), or mkdir_p() and you
know it is safe to ignore the error it might return (because a later
call would detect the failure anyway, or because the error is in an
error path and you thus couldn't do anything about it anyway), then
make this clear by casting the invocation explicitly to (void). Code
checks like Coverity understand that, and will not complain about
ignored error codes. Hence, please use this:
(void) unlink("/foo/bar/baz");
instead of just this:
Don't cast function calls to (void) that return no error
conditions. Specifically, the various xyz_unref() calls that return a NULL
object shouldn't be cast to (void), since not using the return value does not
hide any errors.
- Don't invoke exit(), ever. It is not replacement for proper error
handling. Please escalate errors up your call chain, and use normal
"return" to exit from the main function of a process. If you
fork()ed off a child process, please use _exit() instead of exit(),
so that the exit handlers are not run.
- Please never use dup(). Use fcntl(fd, F_DUPFD_CLOEXEC, 3)
instead. For two reason: first, you want O_CLOEXEC set on the new fd
(see above). Second, dup() will happily duplicate your fd as 0, 1,
2, i.e. stdin, stdout, stderr, should those fds be closed. Given the
special semantics of those fds, it's probably a good idea to avoid
them. F_DUPFD_CLOEXEC with "3" as parameter avoids them.
- When you define a destructor or unref() call for an object, please
accept a NULL object and simply treat this as NOP. This is similar
to how libc free() works, which accepts NULL pointers and becomes a
NOP for them. By following this scheme a lot of if checks can be
removed before invoking your destructor, which makes the code
substantially more readable and robust.
- Related to this: when you define a destructor or unref() call for an
object, please make it return the same type it takes and always
return NULL from it. This allows writing code like this:
p = foobar_unref(p);
which will always work regardless if p is initialized or not, and
guarantees that p is NULL afterwards, all in just one line.
- Use alloca(), but never forget that it is not OK to invoke alloca()
within a loop or within function call parameters. alloca() memory is
released at the end of a function, and not at the end of a {}
block. Thus, if you invoke it in a loop, you keep increasing the
stack pointer without ever releasing memory again. (VLAs have better
behaviour in this case, so consider using them as an alternative.)
Regarding not using alloca() within function parameters, see the
BUGS section of the alloca(3) man page.
- Use memzero() or even better zero() instead of memset(..., 0, ...)
- Instead of using memzero()/memset() to initialize structs allocated
on the stack, please try to use c99 structure initializers. It's
short, prettier and actually even faster at execution. Hence:
struct foobar t = {
.foo = 7,
.bar = "bazz",
instead of:
struct foobar t;
zero(t); = 7; = "bazz";
- When returning a return code from main(), please preferably use
EXIT_FAILURE and EXIT_SUCCESS as defined by libc.
- The order in which header files are included doesn't matter too
much. systemd-internal headers must not rely on an include order, so
it is safe to include them in any order possible.
However, to not clutter global includes, and to make sure internal
definitions will not affect global headers, please always include the
headers of external components first (these are all headers enclosed
in <>), followed by our own exported headers (usually everything
that's prefixed by "sd-"), and then followed by internal headers.
Furthermore, in all three groups, order all includes alphabetically
so duplicate includes can easily be detected.
- To implement an endless loop, use "for (;;)" rather than "while
(1)". The latter is a bit ugly anyway, since you probably really
meant "while (true)"... To avoid the discussion what the right
always-true expression for an infinite while() loop is our
recommendation is to simply write it without any such expression by
using "for (;;)".
- Never use the "off_t" type, and particularly avoid it in public
APIs. It's really weirdly defined, as it usually is 64bit and we
don't support it any other way, but it could in theory also be
32bit. Which one it is depends on a compiler switch chosen by the
compiled program, which hence corrupts APIs using it unless they can
also follow the program's choice. Moreover, in systemd we should
parse values the same way on all architectures and cannot expose
off_t values over D-Bus. To avoid any confusion regarding conversion
and ABIs, always use simply uint64_t directly.
- Commit message subject lines should be prefixed with an appropriate
component name of some kind. For example "journal: ", "nspawn: " and
so on.
- Do not use "Signed-Off-By:" in your commit messages. That's a kernel
thing we don't do in the systemd project.
- Avoid leaving long-running child processes around, i.e. fork()s that
are not followed quickly by an execv() in the child. Resource
management is unclear in this case, and memory CoW will result in
unexpected penalties in the parent much much later on.
- Don't block execution for arbitrary amounts of time using usleep()
or a similar call, unless you really know what you do. Just "giving
something some time", or so is a lazy excuse. Always wait for the
proper event, instead of doing time-based poll loops.
- To determine the length of a constant string "foo", don't bother
with sizeof("foo")-1, please use strlen("foo") directly. gcc knows
strlen() anyway and turns it into a constant expression if possible.
- If you want to concatenate two or more strings, consider using
strjoin() rather than asprintf(), as the latter is a lot
slower. This matters particularly in inner loops.
- Please avoid using global variables as much as you can. And if you
do use them make sure they are static at least, instead of
exported. Especially in library-like code it is important to avoid
global variables. Why are global variables bad? They usually hinder
generic reusability of code (since they break in threaded programs,
and usually would require locking there), and as the code using them
has side-effects make programs intransparent. That said, there are
many cases where they explicitly make a lot of sense, and are OK to
use. For example, the log level and target in log.c is stored in a
global variable, and that's OK and probably expected by most. Also
in many cases we cache data in global variables. If you add more
caches like this, please be careful however, and think about
threading. Only use static variables if you are sure that
thread-safety doesn't matter in your case. Alternatively consider
using TLS, which is pretty easy to use with gcc's "thread_local"
concept. It's also OK to store data that is inherently global in
global variables, for example data parsed from command lines, see
- If you parse a command line, and want to store the parsed parameters
in global variables, please consider prefixing their names with
"arg_". We have been following this naming rule in most of our
tools, and we should continue to do so, as it makes it easy to
identify command line parameter variables, and makes it clear why it
is OK that they are global variables.
- When exposing public C APIs, be careful what function parameters you make
"const". For example, a parameter taking a context object should probably not
be "const", even if you are writing an other-wise read-only accessor function
for it. The reason is that making it "const" fixates the contract that your
call won't alter the object ever, as part of the API. However, that's often
quite a promise, given that this even prohibits object-internal caching or
lazy initialization of object variables. Moreover it's usually not too useful
for client applications. Hence: please be careful and avoid "const" on object
parameters, unless you are very sure "const" is appropriate.
- Make sure to enforce limits on every user controllable resource. If the user
can allocate resources in your code, your code must enforce some form of
limits after which it will refuse operation. It's fine if it is hardcoded (at
least initially), but it needs to be there. This is particularly important
for objects that unprivileged users may allocate, but also matters for
everything else any user may allocated.
- htonl()/ntohl() and htons()/ntohs() are weird. Please use htobe32() and
htobe16() instead, it's much more descriptive, and actually says what really
is happening, after all htonl() and htons() don't operation on longs and
shorts as their name would suggest, but on uint32_t and uint16_t. Also,
"network byte order" is just a weird name for "big endian", hence we might
want to call it "big endian" right-away.
- You might wonder what kind of common code belongs in src/shared/ and what
belongs in src/basic/. The split is like this: anything that uses public APIs
we expose (i.e. any of the sd-bus, sd-login, sd-id128, ... APIs) must be
located in src/shared/. All stuff that only uses external libraries from
other projects (such as glibc's APIs), or APIs from src/basic/ itself should
be placed in src/basic/. Conversely, src/libsystemd/ may only use symbols
from src/basic, but not from src/shared/. To summarize:
src/basic/ → may be used by all code in the tree
→ may not use any code outside of src/basic/
src/libsystemd/ → may be used by all code in the tree, except for code in src/basic/
→ may not use any code outside of src/basic/, src/libsystemd/
src/shared/ → may be used by all code in the tree, except for code in src/basic/, src/libsystemd/
→ may not use any code outside of src/basic/, src/libsystemd/, src/shared/
- Our focus is on the GNU libc (glibc), not any other libcs. If other libcs are
incompatible with glibc it's on them. However, if there are equivalent POSIX
and Linux/GNU-specific APIs, we generally prefer the POSIX APIs. If there
aren't, we are happy to use GNU or Linux APIs, and expect non-GNU
implementations of libc to catch up with glibc.
- Whenever installing a signal handler, make sure to set SA_RESTART for it, so
that interrupted system calls are automatically restarted, and we minimize
hassles with handling EINTR (in particular as EINTR handling is pretty broken
on Linux).