[erlang-patches] Montavista system call error handling patch

Björn Gustavsson <>
Fri May 14 10:27:33 CEST 2010

I agree with Steve's points.

In the Erlang/OTP team, we usually don't use the
term "broken platform". A platform may be broken
according to some definition of "broken", but if a
customer has chosen to use a certain platform
and Erlang/OTP does not work well on it, the
customer will blame us, not the platform. Pointing
out to the customer that their chosen platform
is "broken" will not do any good.

The patch looks fine to me. (Except that the
definition of SOCKET_ERROR should be removed
since it is presumably no longer used.)

Before accepting it, we will need to consider whether
a successful return value could be interpreted as
an error. That is, will any of the socket functions
return a negative error that does not indicate an

Looking at a few of the calls:

The connect() call return 0 if successful, otherwise
-1. It seems to me that if an implementation would
return for instance -2 to mean success, it would be
more horribly broken than Montavista Linux, so that
should be safe. (Alternatively, in this case, it would
be possible to test for 0, using another macro.)

listen() has the same return values as connect().

The man page for accept() says that it returns
a non-negative integer if it succeeds, so that should
be safe.

It seems that the send() family of system calls can
return a negative value that is a success, but only
if passed a sufficiently large buffer size so that
it will become negative when casted to a signed
integer. These functions could need a little
investigation to either show that it cannot happen
in practice, or do something about it so that it
cannot happen in practice (perhaps the error
should be checked in the old way for those
calls if those calls are not known for returning
strange error codes).

Steve, I suggest that you revise your commit
message to summarize the arguments in your
email and also a justification why the change
is safe (similar to what I have done in this
email, but expanding on it).

Putting that information in the commit message
has two advantages: It will be easier for us to
review the patch since all relevant information
can be found in one place and if anyone in the
future stumbles upon this commit and wonders
why it was made, (s)he will immediately find all
information in one place and will not have to
waste time searching through the mailing
list archives.

Björn Gustavsson, Erlang/OTP, Ericsson AB

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