Apr 09

GCC Rant + Progress

I feel strange working on GCC-specific stuff and then discussing it on planet mozilla as mozilla work. However, without GCC, Dehydra and Treehydra would not be half as awesome (much less feasible even). The power of open source is that it allows us to leverage the entire open source ecosystem to achieve specific goals. When open source projects combine their efforts, not even the biggest software companies can compete as cross-project goals would be incredibly expensive and unpleasant otherwise.

Occasionally, it is very frustrating to see people treat open source software as immutable and independent black boxes. In my personal experience, the browser and the compiler are viewed as finished products and therefore it is OK to bitch and complain about them. That’s frustrating because the same users could be channeling that energy in a more positive way by reporting bugs, contributing code/documentation, etc.

Sometimes these rants result in rather comical conclusions: Ingo’s rant is priceless. My perspective on this:

  • what have Linux kernel devs done to help GCC help them?
  • <flame>Sparse is a deadend. Writing compiler code in C is silly, writing analysis code in C is sillier (and frustrating and limiting). Taking a crappy parser and bolting a crappy compiler backend onto it will result in bigger pile of crap 🙂 Given how smart kernel devs are, they sure like wasting their time on crappy solutions in crappy languages.</flame>
  • Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of complaining these talented people wrote a GCC plugin to do what they want?

GCC Plugin Progress

I finally landed the massively boring and annoying GTY patch. I can barely believe that the patch went in so smoothly without excess complaining from GCC devs. From GCC perspective it’s merely a cosmetic cleanup that affects a large number of headers. For us it enables Treehydra to be generated via Dehydra with little manual effort. It basically makes Treehydra possible without patching GCC. I have another 3-4 patches that need to land before trunk GCC can run the hydras out of the box. Those are mainly localized bugfixes and cleanups so I fully expect them to go in and for GCC 4.5 to rock my world.
Once GCC 4.5 ships. analyzing code will depend on a trivial matter of apt-getting(or equivalent) the hydras and specifying the analysis flags on the GCC commandline!

Apr 09

Benchmarks and Instrumentation for Fennec/etc

I wrote Fennecmark to automate some of the tasks that I did manually while doing performance debugging.

I tried to capture some of the “perceived performance” in numbers. My goal is to focus on user-visible areas of performance. Ideally it will enable us to track performance better to ensure that key features do not regress in performance and enable us to compare Fennec speed on various platforms. I need to spend some quality time with QA people to figure out how to achieve that.

Currently Fennecmark loads a slow-to-load webpage, zooms around it and then pans from the top to the bottom. This measures: responsiveness during pageload, zoom speed and panning lag.

See code at http://hg.mozilla.org/users/tglek_mozilla.com/fennecmark.

JSD Instrumentation

Spidermonkey provides an API that allows one to get a notification on every method entry/exit. I was able to do most of my Fennec performance analysis via a component in bug 470116. My stopwatch component times the execution of every js function call and spits out a log that has been very useful in figuring out what is taking up time in Fennec chrome.


I am itching to write a tool that can instrument large portions of Mozilla code such that it can be profiled across C++/JS boundaries and without any external tool support. I am guessing this would be most useful on platforms with crappy sampling tools, but it would be cool if it made finding slow codepaths easier in general. If you know any lightweight instrumentation techniques, please share.

I wrote a little prototype to insert stopwatch stuff into code deemed interesting by oprofile (stuff in the bug above). The code patching part works well, but it’s a big runtime hit and outputs too much data.

Apr 09

Misc Static Analysis News: s/#mmgc/#static/, Codecon, piglet, …

#static on irc.mozilla.org is now the correct irc channel for anything to do with static analysis.

On Sunday, I will be presenting on Pork at codecon. I have been meaning to attend codecon since the days when P2P was considered cool, was not able to make it until this year. It is a historical milestone for me. Codecon was how people at Mozilla first heard of Elsa, which is now the foundation of all our refactoring tools (it is also inherited baggage I get to maintain).


I adopted Piglet, Dave Mandelin‘s de-oinkification project, and imported it into hg. It feels really good to finally be able to do a make -j without disturbing people nearby with surprise explosions of foul language. I plan to move all relevant static analysis tools into piglet. After that I shall finally merge a dozen or so elsa repositories and end up with Pork consisting of elsa/ + piglet/.


Chris Jones is quietly working on making Pork magnitudes more useful to average developers. It’s exciting stuff and I’ll let him announce it when he’s ready. Between his work and David Humphrey‘s DXR. I think we are finally going to make it easier to hack on Mozilla for a much wider audience than before.