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Entries from December 2010.

Sendmail in chroot-ed environment for CI purposes

Recently I've been working on simple continuous integration tool that builds fresh checkouts from Perforce and uploads binary artifacts to external FTP server for testing purposes. I'm using chrooted Debian Squeeze 32 bit environment inside 64 bit host based on RPM distro (basic chroot, a simpler form of BSD's chroot jail).

The frequent problem was failing builds caused by partial commits from different teams (client was not comfortable with shared codebase ownership idea). We decided to replace rule "before every commit check if all suite is building" to "minimize failed build time as possible". How to minize the problem if it cannot be avoided at all?

The simplest answer is: notify about build problems as soon as possible. Everyone will see an e-mail with latest committer and exact build error cause. Sounds simple? Let's implement it!

The main problem with sendind out e-mails from chroot-ed env is that typically SMTP daemon is not running in the same chroot-ed environment, so locally working e-mail tools (/usr/sbin/sendmail -t) probably will not work correctly. You have to use SMTP protocol to connect to host services (not very easy from shell scripts).

sSMTP is a simple proxy that can feed locally delived content (stdin) to remote SMTP server (smarthost). In our case SMTP daemon running on host will be used. Here's my configuration for sSMTP:

# cat /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf

ssmtp can mimic /usr/sbin/sendmail binary usage, so probably your script will not change after switching to sSMTP. And here's the sample result (generated e-mail body):

Build CL162394 failed.
Whole log: ftp://SERVER_IP/SDK/rootfs/build-dev-162394.log

Last build lines:
In file included from /usr/local/(...)
xyz.h:181: error: 'ODPlaybackState' does not name a type
make: *** [sub-CoreApplications-make_default-ordered] Error 2

Backtraces for C++

Java does it pretty well. C++ sucks by default. What is that?: The answer: Backtraces.

Sometimes assert information (file name and line number where assertion occured is not enough to guess where the problem is. It's useful to see the backtrace (stack trace in Java vocabulary) of calling methods/functions. You can achieve that in C++ using gdb (and analysing generated core files or run the program under debugger), but it's not a "light" (and elegant) solution (especially for embedded systems).

I'm presenting here a method to collect as meaningful backtraces in C++ as possible. Just link to module below and you will see pretty backtraces on abort/assert/uncaught throw/...

Let's first, install some handlers to connect to interesting events in program:

static int install_handler() {
    struct sigaction sigact;

    sigact.sa_flags = SA_SIGINFO | SA_ONSTACK;

    sigact.sa_sigaction = segv_handler;
    if (sigaction(SIGSEGV, &sigact, (struct sigaction *)NULL) != 0) {
        fprintf(stderr, "error setting signal handler for %d (%s)\n",
        SIGSEGV, strsignal(SIGSEGV));

    sigact.sa_sigaction = abrt_handler;
    if (sigaction(SIGABRT, &sigact, (struct sigaction *)NULL) != 0) {
        fprintf(stderr, "error setting signal handler for %d (%s)\n",
        SIGABRT, strsignal(SIGABRT));



    return 0;

static int x = install_handler();

Some notes:

  • qInstallHandler: some QT-related exceptions were not properly reported as backtrace, used for Q_ASSERT
  • set_terminate, set_unexpected: C++ standard of "catching" uncaught exceptions
  • sigaction: catch assert() macro call

Then define the handlers itself:

static void segv_handler(int, siginfo_t*, void*) {

static void abrt_handler(int, siginfo_t*, void*) {

static void terminate_handler() {

static void unexpected_handler() {

static void qt_message_handler(QtMsgType type, const char *msg) {
    fprintf(stderr, "%s\n", msg);
    switch (type) {
    case QtDebugMsg:
    case QtWarningMsg:
    case QtCriticalMsg:
    case QtFatalMsg:

And finally define function that renders stacktrace to file handle passed:

/** Print a demangled stack backtrace of the caller function to FILE* out. */
static void print_stacktrace(const char* source, FILE *out = stderr, unsigned int max_frames = 63)
    char linkname[512]; /* /proc/
/exe */
    char buf[512];
    pid_t pid;
    int ret;

    /* Get our PID and build the name of the link in /proc */
    pid = getpid();

    snprintf(linkname, sizeof(linkname), "/proc/%i/exe", pid);

    /* Now read the symbolic link */
    ret = readlink(linkname, buf, 512);
    buf[ret] = 0;

    fprintf(out, "stack trace (%s) for process %s (PID:%d):\n",
        source, buf, pid);

    // storage array for stack trace address data
    void* addrlist[max_frames+1];

    // retrieve current stack addresses
    int addrlen = backtrace(addrlist, sizeof(addrlist) / sizeof(void*));

    if (addrlen == 0) {
        fprintf(out, "  \n");

    // resolve addresses into strings containing "filename(function+address)",
    // this array must be free()-ed
    char** symbollist = backtrace_symbols(addrlist, addrlen);

    // allocate string which will be filled with the demangled function name
    size_t funcnamesize = 256;
    char* funcname = (char*)malloc(funcnamesize);

    // iterate over the returned symbol lines. skip first two,
    // (addresses of this function and handler)
    for (int i = 2; i < addrlen; i++)
    char *begin_name = 0, *begin_offset = 0, *end_offset = 0;

    // find parentheses and +address offset surrounding the mangled name:
    // ./module(function+0x15c) [0x8048a6d]
    for (char *p = symbollist[i]; *p; ++p)
        if (*p == '(')
        begin_name = p;
        else if (*p == '+')
        begin_offset = p;
        else if (*p == ')' && begin_offset) {
        end_offset = p;

    if (begin_name && begin_offset && end_offset
        && begin_name < begin_offset)
        *begin_name++ = '\0';
        *begin_offset++ = '\0';
        *end_offset = '\0';

        // mangled name is now in [begin_name, begin_offset) and caller
        // offset in [begin_offset, end_offset). now apply
        // __cxa_demangle():

        int status;
        char* ret = abi::__cxa_demangle(begin_name,
                        funcname, &funcnamesize, &status);
        if (status == 0) {
        funcname = ret; // use possibly realloc()-ed string
        fprintf(out, "  (PID:%d) %s : %s+%s\n",
            pid, symbollist[i], funcname, begin_offset);
        else {
        // demangling failed. Output function name as a C function with
        // no arguments.
        fprintf(out, "  (PID:%d) %s : %s()+%s\n",
            pid, symbollist[i], begin_name, begin_offset);
        // couldn't parse the line? print the whole line.
        fprintf(out, "  (PID:%d) %s: ??\n", pid, symbollist[i]);


    fprintf(out, "stack trace END (PID:%d)\n", pid);

And finally: some includes to be able to compile the module:

#include <cxxabi.h>
#include <execinfo.h>
#include <execinfo.h>
#include <signal.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <ucontext.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <Qt/qapplication.h>

Note that you have to pass some flags during compiling / linking phase in order to have dynamic backtraces available:

  • -funwind-tables for compiler
  • -rdynamic for linker

Chrooting 32-bit Debian

Sometimes brand-new 64 bit architecture must be used for running 32-bit programs. You can preserve your 64-bit system and create so called "32 bit chroot" environment. I'll use Debian as guest operating system because it supports easy bootstrapping out-of-the-box.

I assume debootstrap program is already installed. First: create Debian tree:

# debootstrap --arch=i386 lenny /home/dccb/lenny

Then we can chroot to new env and customize:

# chroot /home/dccb/lenny /usr/bin/i386

Note that shell "/usr/bin/i386" is required for chrooted environment to see 32-bit architecture. If you want to jump directly into plain user account use this command:

# chroot /home/dccb/lenny /usr/bin/i386 su - $CHROOT_USER

Inside chroot you can do (almost) everything (install programs, run daemons, ...). Note that sometimes you will have to change services ports to not collide with services present on host (HTTP, SSH, ...) - it's not a virtualisation, just chroot jail.

Additional note: In order to get correct /dev and /proc tree you have to mount them before chrootting:

mount -o bind /proc /home/dccb/lenny/proc
mount -o bind /dev /home/dccb/lenny/dev

Logs on X background

Do you want to easily control different events that may occure in your system? Are you boring of looking into log files (or do you reviewing them regularly?). Here's simple method how to not miss any interesting event! Place logs on X server root!

As you can see you can mix logs from many sources. It's "tail -f" ported to X server. Here's command line invocation I placed in ~/.xinitrc:

root-tail -color white -font "-misc-*-*-r-*-*-10-*-*-*-*-*-*-*"\
        -g 2020x350+1-10 \
        --outline --minspace \
        ~/procmail.log \
        /var/log/messages \
        /var/log/daemon.log \
        /var/log/syslog \
        ~/.xsession-errors \

Pretty useful small pgm. Enjoy!