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On Tue, May 12, 2015 at 06:28:22PM -0700, Josh Haberman wrote:
> Short question: what is the rationale for Lua loading C
> extensions as RTLD_LOCAL by default?

Because the alternative is even worse. With RTLD_GLOBAL unrelated modules
could (and would) cause symbol conflicts, either because they didn't
properly define the scope of internal functions, or because libraries that
they depend on had conflicting symbols. Using a default of RTLD_LOCAL is the
safest, sanest approach. If you _know_ there won't be conflicts, you can
explicitly load modules using RTLD_GLOBAL.

See my specific comments inline. But, quickly, I would use package.preload
to solve this.

  local lib_A --> XXX: not sure if we need to anchor the reference
  package.preload["A"] = function ()
    local path = assert(package.searchpath("A", package.cpath))
    lib_A = assert(package.loadlib(path, "*")) --> load global
    local luaopen_A = assert(package.loadlib(path, "luaopen_A"))
    return assert(luaopen_A("A", path))

  package.preload["B"] = function ()
    local path = assert(package.searchpath("B", package.cpath))
    local luaopen_B = assert(package.loadlib(path, "luaopen_B"))
    return assert(luaopen_B("B", path))

  package.preload["C"] = function ()
    local path = assert(package.searchpath("C", package.cpath))
    local luaopen_C = assert(package.loadlib(path, "luaopen_C"))
    return assert(luaopen_C("C", path))

> Long story: I have several C extensions with dependencies
> between them.
>          +---+
>      +-->| A |<--+
>      |   +---+   |
>      |           |
>    +---+       +---+
>    | B |       | C |
>    +---+       +---+
> These dependencies are C-level dependencies; ie. A contains
> a C function foo() that B and C call.
> Now I could tell the linker about these dependencies when
> I compile these modules.  That would make the OS aware of
> these dependencies, and make it automatically load A when
> B or C are loaded.
> But this approach has a couple downsides:
> 1. Users now need to set both LUA_CPATH *and* LD_LIBRARY_PATH
>    correctly.  Kind of a big pain, especially since the two
>    have different failures modes so it's not immediately
>    obvious which one you got wrong.  Also, the LD_LIBRARY_PATH
>    part is inherently OS-specific, and is different on OS X.

Not if you use rpath. Both ELF and Mach-O support embedding a directory name
in the module for use when searching for the dependency. (For Mach-O you
also need to use otool(3) on the dependency.) Alternatively, just also
install the module in the normal library path, e.g.

In any event, I'm not sure this strategy would work. The loader may end up
installing the module twice. The glibc ELF loader, IIRC, indexes libraries
by path name. If the path name is the same, a library will only get loaded
once, no matter how many times it's listed as a dependency or loaded with
dlopen. If the path is different it'll be re-loaded.

> 2. If the user wants to install your library, they will expect
>    to *not* have to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH, so you have to install
>    into /usr/lib or /usr/local/lib, and give it an soname that
>    won't conflict with anything else on the system.  But this
>    is a little weird, because the library isn't intended to
>    be used from C, it's *only* intended to be loaded by Lua.

Again, you would simply embed the direcory path for A within module's B and
C using the widely supported rpath linker support.
> What I wish I could do is guarantee, from Lua, that A is always
> loaded before B or C.  This is easy to do with some trivial
> wrappers:

> -- b.lua
> import("a")
> return import("b_cext")
> -- c.lua
> import("a")
> return import("c_cext")
> This would be a really nice solution that solves both of the
> above problems.  But unfortunately it is not possible because
> require() loads C libraries with RTLD_LOCAL.  That means that
> the symbols loaded in A are not available to be linked against
> from B or C.
> Any thoughts or workarounds?

The solution I gave above should implement precisely this. However, it
requires Lua 5.2+.

Lua 5.1 has no way to specify symbol visiblity. Furthermore, Lua 5.1 doesn't
pass the path name to the loaded module the way Lua 5.2 does. But most
platforms (notably not AIX, but including OS X and every ELF-based platform
I've tested) support dladdr(3). The A module can use dladdr and dlopen to
upgrade it's visibility instead of relying on loadlib(path, "*"). I use the
following trick in a Lua-Perl module at work to export the Perl XS API so
that Perl code can load other Perl modules.

  #include <dlfcn.h>

  int luaopen_A(lua_State *L) {

    if (!dladdr(&luaopen_A, &info) || !info.dli_fname)
      return luaL_error(L, "unable to locate path");

    if (!dlopen(info.dli_fname, RTLD_GLOBAL|RTLD_NOW|RTLD_NOLOAD))
      return luaL_error(L, "unable to export symbols");

    // normal module loading stuff

Full disclosure: I've used dladdr+dlopen to pin a module in memory so that
it can't be unloaded, and I know it works on Linux glibc, Linux musl, OS X,
FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Solaris. For example, if I've installed local
functions as callbacks with OpenSSL, I have to make sure the module is never
unloaded. However, I've only ever tested the visibility hack on Linux and
maybe OS X. I don't think RTLD_NOLOAD is needed, but it's a good way to be
sure that we're definitely only reloading ourselves.