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Subject[PATCH] perf: Incorrect use of snprintf results in SEGV

I have a workload where perf top scribbles over the stack and we
SEGV. What makes it interesting is that an snprintf is causing this.

The workload is a c++ gem that has method names over 3000 characters
long, but snprintf is designed to avoid overrunning buffers. So what
went wrong?

The problem is we assume snprintf returns the number of characters

ret += repsep_snprintf(bf + ret, size - ret, "[%c] ", self->level);
ret += repsep_snprintf(bf + ret, size - ret, "%s", self->ms.sym->name);

Unfortunately this is not how snprintf works. snprintf returns the
number of characters that would have been written if there was enough
space. In the above case, if the first snprintf returns a value larger
than size, we pass a negative size into the second snprintf and
happily scribble over the stack. If you have 3000 character c++
methods thats a lot of stack to trample.

This patch fixes repsep_snprintf by clamping the value at size - 1
which is the maximum snprintf can write before adding the NULL

I get the sinking feeling that there are a lot of other uses of
snprintf that have this same bug, we should audit them all.

Signed-off-by: Anton Blanchard <>

Index: linux-build/tools/perf/util/sort.c
--- linux-build.orig/tools/perf/util/sort.c 2012-03-07 10:58:57.502318907 +1100
+++ linux-build/tools/perf/util/sort.c 2012-03-07 11:00:58.812423271 +1100
@@ -33,6 +33,9 @@ static int repsep_snprintf(char *bf, siz
+ if (n >= (int)size)
+ return size - 1;
return n;

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