Dynamic analysis with Clang#
This document describes how to use Clang to perform analysis on Python and its libraries. In addition to performing the analysis, the document will cover downloading, building and installing the latest Clang/LLVM combination (which is currently 3.4).
This document does not cover interpreting the findings. For a discussion of
interpreting results, see Marshall Clow’s Testing libc++ with
blog posting is a detailed examinations of issues uncovered by Clang in
What is Clang?#
Clang is the C, C++ and Objective C front-end for the LLVM compiler. The front-end provides access to LLVM’s optimizer and code generator. The sanitizers - or checkers - are hooks into the code generation phase to instrument compiled code so suspicious behavior is flagged.
What are sanitizers?#
Clang sanitizers are runtime checkers used to identify suspicious and undefined behavior. The checking occurs at runtime with actual runtime parameters so false positives are kept to a minimum.
There are a number of sanitizers available, but two that should be used on a
regular basis are the Address Sanitizer (or ASan) and the Undefined Behavior
Sanitizer (or UBSan). ASan is invoked with the compiler option
-fsanitize=address, and UBSan is invoked with
flags are passed through
CXXFLAGS, and sometimes through
CXX (in addition to the compiler).
A complete list of sanitizers can be found at Controlling Code Generation.
Because sanitizers operate at runtime on real program parameters, its important to provide a complete set of positive and negative self tests.
Clang and its sanitizers have strengths (and weaknesses). Its just one tool in the war chest to uncovering bugs and improving code quality. Clang should be used to compliment other methods, including Code Reviews, Valgrind, Coverity, etc.
This portion of the document covers downloading, building and installing Clang and LLVM. There are three components to download and build. They are the LLVM compiler, the compiler front end and the compiler runtime library.
In preparation you should create a scratch directory. Also ensure you are using Python 2 and not Python 3. Python 3 will cause the build to fail.
Download, build and install#
Perform the following to download, build and install the Clang/LLVM 3.4.
# Download wget https://llvm.org/releases/3.4/llvm-3.4.src.tar.gz wget https://llvm.org/releases/3.4/clang-3.4.src.tar.gz wget https://llvm.org/releases/3.4/compiler-rt-3.4.src.tar.gz # LLVM tar xvf llvm-3.4.src.tar.gz cd llvm-3.4/tools # Clang Front End tar xvf ../../clang-3.4.src.tar.gz mv clang-3.4 clang # Compiler RT cd ../projects tar xvf ../../compiler-rt-3.4.src.tar.gz mv compiler-rt-3.4/ compiler-rt # Build cd .. ./configure --enable-optimized --prefix=/usr/local make -j4 sudo make install
If you receive an error
'LibraryDependencies.inc' file not found, then
ensure you are utilizing Python 2 and not Python 3. If you encounter the
error after switching to Python 2, then delete everything and start over.
make install executes, the compilers will be installed in
/usr/local/bin and the various libraries will be installed in
$ ls /usr/local/lib/clang/3.4/lib/linux/ libclang_rt.asan-x86_64.a libclang_rt.profile-x86_64.a libclang_rt.dfsan-x86_64.a libclang_rt.san-x86_64.a libclang_rt.full-x86_64.a libclang_rt.tsan-x86_64.a libclang_rt.lsan-x86_64.a libclang_rt.ubsan_cxx-x86_64.a libclang_rt.msan-x86_64.a libclang_rt.ubsan-x86_64.a
On macOS, the libraries are installed in
$ ls /usr/local/lib/clang/3.3/lib/darwin/ libclang_rt.10.4.a libclang_rt.ios.a libclang_rt.asan_osx.a libclang_rt.osx.a libclang_rt.asan_osx_dynamic.dylib libclang_rt.profile_ios.a libclang_rt.cc_kext.a libclang_rt.profile_osx.a libclang_rt.cc_kext_ios5.a libclang_rt.ubsan_osx.a libclang_rt.eprintf.a
You should never have to add the libraries to a project. Clang will handle
it for you. If you find you cannot pass the
-fsanitize=XXX flag through
make’s implicit variables (
configure, then you should modify the
makefile after configuring to ensure the flag is passed through the
The installer does not install all the components needed on occasion. For
example, you might want to run a
scan-build or examine the results with
scan-view. You can copy the components by hand with:
sudo mkdir /usr/local/bin/scan-build sudo cp -r llvm-3.4/tools/clang/tools/scan-build /usr/local/bin sudo mkdir /usr/local/bin/scan-view sudo cp -r llvm-3.4/tools/clang/tools/scan-view /usr/local/bin
Because the installer does not install all the components needed on occasion, you should not delete the scratch directory until you are sure things work as expected. If a library is missing, then you should search for it in the Clang/LLVM build directory.
Python build setup#
This portion of the document covers invoking Clang and LLVM with the options required so the sanitizers analyze Python with under its test suite. Two checkers are used - ASan and UBSan.
Because the sanitizers are runtime checkers, its best to have as many positive and negative self tests as possible. You can never have enough self tests.
The general idea is to compile and link with the sanitizer flags. At link time,
Clang will include the needed runtime libraries. However, you can’t use
CXXFLAGS to pass the options through the compiler to the
linker because the makefile rules for
_freeze_importlib don’t use the implicit variables.
As a workaround to the absence of flags to the linker, you can pass the
sanitizer options by way of the compilers -
CXX. Passing the
flags though the compiler is used below, but passing them through
also reported to work.
To begin, export the variables of interest with the desired sanitizers. Its OK to specify both sanitizers:
# ASan export CC="/usr/local/bin/clang -fsanitize=address" export CXX="/usr/local/bin/clang++ -fsanitize=address -fno-sanitize=vptr"
# UBSan export CC="/usr/local/bin/clang -fsanitize=undefined" export CXX="/usr/local/bin/clang++ -fsanitize=undefined -fno-sanitize=vptr"
-fno-sanitize=vptr removes vtable checks that are part of UBSan from C++
projects due to noise. Its not needed with Python, but you will likely need it
for other C++ projects.
configure as normal:
$ ./configure checking build system type... x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu checking host system type... x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu checking for --enable-universalsdk... no checking for --with-universal-archs... 32-bit checking MACHDEP... linux checking for --without-gcc... no checking for gcc... /usr/local/bin/clang -fsanitize=undefined checking whether the C compiler works... yes ...
Next is a standard
make (formatting added for clarity):
$ make /usr/local/bin/clang -fsanitize=undefined -c -Wno-unused-result -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O3 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -I. -IInclude -I./Include -DPy_BUILD_CORE -o Modules/python.o ./Modules/python.c /usr/local/bin/clang -fsanitize=undefined -c -Wno-unused-result -DNDEBUG -g -fwrapv -O3 -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -I. -IInclude -I./Include -DPy_BUILD_CORE -o Parser/acceler.o Parser/acceler.c ...
make test (formatting added for clarity):
Objects/longobject.c:39:42: runtime error: index -1 out of bounds for type 'PyLongObject ' Objects/tupleobject.c:188:13: runtime error: member access within misaligned address 0x2b76be018078 for type 'PyGC_Head' (aka 'union _gc_head'), which requires 16 byte alignment 0x2b76be018078: note: pointer points here 00 00 00 00 40 53 5a b6 76 2b 00 00 60 52 5a b6 ... ^ ...
If you are using the address sanitizer, its important to pipe the output through
asan_symbolize.py to get a good trace. For example, from Issue 20953 during
compile (formatting added for clarity):
$ make test 2>&1 | asan_symbolize.py ... /usr/local/bin/clang -fsanitize=address -Xlinker -export-dynamic -o python Modules/python.o libpython3.3m.a -ldl -lutil /usr/local/ssl/lib/libssl.a /usr/local/ssl/lib/libcrypto.a -lm ./python -E -S -m sysconfig --generate-posix-vars ================================================================= ==24064==ERROR: AddressSanitizer: heap-buffer-overflow on address 0x619000004020 at pc 0x4ed4b2 bp 0x7fff80fff010 sp 0x7fff80fff008 READ of size 4 at 0x619000004020 thread T0 #0 0x4ed4b1 in PyObject_Free Python-3.3.5/./Objects/obmalloc.c:987 #1 0x7a2141 in code_dealloc Python-3.3.5/./Objects/codeobject.c:359 #2 0x620c00 in PyImport_ImportFrozenModuleObject Python-3.3.5/./Python/import.c:1098 #3 0x620d5c in PyImport_ImportFrozenModule Python-3.3.5/./Python/import.c:1114 #4 0x63fd07 in import_init Python-3.3.5/./Python/pythonrun.c:206 #5 0x63f636 in _Py_InitializeEx_Private Python-3.3.5/./Python/pythonrun.c:369 #6 0x681d77 in Py_Main Python-3.3.5/./Modules/main.c:648 #7 0x4e6894 in main Python-3.3.5/././Modules/python.c:62 #8 0x2abf9a525eac in __libc_start_main /home/aurel32/eglibc/eglibc-2.13/csu/libc-start.c:244 #9 0x4e664c in _start (Python-3.3.5/./python+0x4e664c) AddressSanitizer can not describe address in more detail (wild memory access suspected). SUMMARY: AddressSanitizer: heap-buffer-overflow Python-3.3.5/./Objects/obmalloc.c:987 PyObject_Free Shadow bytes around the buggy address: 0x0c327fff87b0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff87c0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff87d0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff87e0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff87f0: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa =>0x0c327fff8800: fa fa fa fa[fa]fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff8810: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff8820: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff8830: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff8840: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa 0x0c327fff8850: fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa fa Shadow byte legend (one shadow byte represents 8 application bytes): Addressable: 00 Partially addressable: 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 Heap left redzone: fa Heap right redzone: fb Freed heap region: fd Stack left redzone: f1 Stack mid redzone: f2 Stack right redzone: f3 Stack partial redzone: f4 Stack after return: f5 Stack use after scope: f8 Global redzone: f9 Global init order: f6 Poisoned by user: f7 ASan internal: fe ==24064==ABORTING make: *** [pybuilddir.txt] Error 1
asan_symbolize.py is supposed to be installed during
If its not installed, then look in the Clang/LLVM build directory for it and
copy it to
Blacklisting (ignoring) findings#
Clang allows you to alter the behavior of sanitizer tools for certain source-level by providing a special blacklist file at compile-time. The blacklist is needed because it reports every instance of an issue, even if the issue is reported 10’s of thousands of time in un-managed library code.
You specify the blacklist with
-fsanitize-blacklist=XXX. For example:
my_blacklist.txt would then contain entries such as the following. The entry
will ignore a bug in
ios formatting functions:
As an example with Python 3.4.0,
audioop.c will produce a number of
./Modules/audioop.c:422:11: runtime error: left shift of negative value -1 ./Modules/audioop.c:446:19: runtime error: left shift of negative value -1 ./Modules/audioop.c:476:19: runtime error: left shift of negative value -1 ./Modules/audioop.c:504:16: runtime error: left shift of negative value -1 ./Modules/audioop.c:533:22: runtime error: left shift of negative value -128 ./Modules/audioop.c:775:19: runtime error: left shift of negative value -70 ./Modules/audioop.c:831:19: runtime error: left shift of negative value -70 ./Modules/audioop.c:881:19: runtime error: left shift of negative value -1 ./Modules/audioop.c:920:22: runtime error: left shift of negative value -70 ./Modules/audioop.c:967:23: runtime error: left shift of negative value -70 ./Modules/audioop.c:968:23: runtime error: left shift of negative value -70 ...
One of the function of interest is
audioop_getsample_impl (flagged at line
422), and the blacklist entry would include:
Or, you could ignore the entire file with:
Unfortunately, you won’t know what to blacklist until you run the sanitizer.
The documentation is available at Sanitizer special case list.