Something is stepping on something

Discussion in 'Programmer Misc' started by Robert Peirce, Feb 12, 2008.

  1. I have the following definitions in a header file:

    Declarations for database variables

    char t[TL]; /* ticker */
    char n[SN]; /* name */
    int g1,g2,g3; /* group codes */

    TL is defined as 9 and SN as 31 in another header file.

    They are used in the following code segment:

    fgets(s1, BUF, sd);

    strcpy(t, s1);
    t[TL-1] = '\0';
    printf ("Ticker = %s.\n", t); // This is correct
    printf ("Something happens between here . . .\n");

    strcpy(n,s1+TL); // This is trashing t
    printf ("And here . . .\n");
    printf ("Ticker = %s.\n", t); // This is trash
    n[SN-1] = '\0';

    This code works fine under Uwin on a PC. The module compiles with no
    errors or warnings on my Intel based MacBook Pro. Something seems to be
    getting stepped on but I can't figure out how.

    I think I am missing something obvious. Can anybody help?
    Robert Peirce, Feb 12, 2008
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  2. 1. you do not describe all variables: what is BUF? sd? s1?
    2. I find it strange that you can figure out that "strcpy(n,s1+TL)" is
    the problematic line, but can not find out why. If you use a debugger,
    or even if you just insert print statements to dump all pointer
    values and their contents, it should not be too hard to find out what
    is wrong.
    3. I tend to evade programming in 70's C, so I may be wrong, but I
    think that the supposedly zero-terminated argument "s1+TL" to that
    strcpy call may be of arbitrary length if the call "fgets(s1, BUF,
    sd)" read less than TL-1 characters.

    Reinder Verlinde, Feb 12, 2008
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  3. BUF is 1024.
    sd is the current 160 character line from the s.d file and it is copied
    into s1, which is of size BUF.
    Actually, that is exactly how I found what line was causing the problem,
    but I cannot figure out why. s1+TL starts at the name ('n' is a
    security name and 't' is a ticker symbol), as it should, and terminates
    with a new line as it should.

    T and n, which are defined in a header file, are used in a number of
    other programs which do the same sort of thing but work as expected.

    I have tried to use gdb, but I am having problems understanding how to
    set it up properly, so I resorted to print statements.
    I wrote this stuff many years ago and I have ported it to several
    different platforms, including a NeXT. It currently runs on a PC under
    Uwin. Usually I have no problems with it. Print statements I used
    earlier in tracking this down show that sd has all 160 characters. It
    it pretty clear that t is getting stepped on by strcpy but I cannot
    figure out how or why.
    Robert Peirce, Feb 13, 2008
  4. Robert Peirce

    Sean McBride Guest

    Sean McBride, Feb 13, 2008
  5. I just thought of something you Apple experts might know. This has
    always worked before because t came in memory before n. I am copying
    s1+TL to n, which is bout 150 characters into a 31 character string. It
    is going to trash anything that follows it in memory, which has never
    been a problem because n always followed t. While this is probably a
    really dumb assumption, it has worked for 20 years. However, does that
    actually happen in this case? If t follows n in memory, it would
    explain why t is getting trashed. It wouldn't quite explain exactly
    what is getting into t, but it would be a start.
    Robert Peirce, Feb 13, 2008
  6. Okay, for the heck of it, I tried this code:

    strcpy(t, s1);
    t[TL-1] = '\0';

    s2[SN-1] = '\0';
    strcpy(n, s2);
    printf ("Ticker = %s.\n", t);
    printf ("Name = %s.\n",n);

    and it worked. Apparently, t follows n in memory on the Mac and n was
    trashing t.

    Thanks, everybody, for the tips.
    Robert Peirce, Feb 13, 2008
  7. Folks, please give me a break. This stuff is legacy software, written
    over 30 years ago and changed only enough to port it to new machines.
    In this case I did make that change and the code works properly

    Although I graduated from Carnegie Tech (CMU) in 1964 with a degree in
    Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the CS was primitive. In
    fact, the university didn't even create an official CS department until
    1965. I couldn't touch any of you who have graduated in the last few

    I started on a SouthWest Tecnical Products (Sweat-Pack) with 8"
    floppies and a primitive DOS. 8K of RAM was more than enough for any
    sensible person!

    I was reading about Unix, taking some courses and getting very
    enthusiastic when Altos came out with an M6800 computer running an
    early version of Unix, if I remember correctly. This saved my the
    expense of acquiring a DEC or Perkin-Elmer mini (remember those??).
    This was sometime in the late 1970s.

    The Altos had a C compiler and I started to write code to support my
    work in the investment business. The goal was to cobble together
    something that worked, not to be particularly elegant. The early C
    compilers were very lenient and you could get away with murder, which I
    did. At least I created man pages for all my programs!

    I went from there to an Altos 68020, running Unix System III. Then to
    a NeXT and most recently to a PC running Uwin. Uwin uses ksh and its
    C compiler is actually a front-end to Microsoft's C compiler.

    Through all of this I was usually able simply to recompile the old
    code for the new architecture, sometimes making a few changes.
    Consequently, it hasn't changed much in over 30 years. C is a
    remarkably robust language.

    Since my business is managing money for people, not software design, I
    have not moved ahead. I never learned C++ or ObjectiveC, because
    everything I needed was already written in C. For the same reason, I
    never learned Perl, Python, Ruby or any of the languages that have come
    along since awk, which has always served my needs. The one concession
    I have made is to pick up a smattering of ksh.

    By most of your standards I am an old foggy living in the last
    century. As a software engineer that is true, but that is not my
    business. My business is to manage money and the computer just
    supports that task. I happen to like coding, which is why I ended up
    doing it, but I always had to make that secondary to my primary role.
    By your standards I am way out of my depth, which is why I turn to you
    when I run into something I don't understand.
    Robert Peirce, Feb 14, 2008
  8. This is the fourth time I have ported the software in 30+ years. I am
    67 and will probably never have to port it again :). Nevertheless, the
    time required to re-write all the code versus the time required to port
    it every 5-10 years makes the minor fixes worthwhile.

    The fact is, I had to port 10 C programs (and 27 ksh scripts), of which
    9 compiled and ran with no problems. (All the ksh scripts required me
    to add '#!/bin/ksh' in the first line because OS X did not default to
    ksh, but after that, they ran fine as well). The tenth used the same
    module one of the 9 used and had a problem only because I added code for
    it a number of years ago in a very quick and unusually dirty way.

    Bottom line is most of the code was pretty clean going in and I have
    re-done this problem in a proper fashion to store character strings of
    the correct size.

    I am sure there are a number of other hidden gotchas buried in this
    code, but thankfully, I probably won't have to worry about them.
    Robert Peirce, Feb 14, 2008
  9. I second both the "it is just a suggestion", and the "still, I repeat
    that suggestion" parts. This does not have to mean staring for hours at
    the source. There are tools that can help here, such as clint
    (<>) and/or valgrind
    (<>) variant. The things these tools report might
    even help you solve some "it crashes once in a while", "the results look
    odd once in a while" or "it does not work when I enable compiler
    optimization" issues.

    Reinder Verlinde, Feb 14, 2008
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