George V. Reilly

Never Sleep(0) in an Infinite Loop

Infinite Loop

I ran into a problem installing some COM+ components today. The installer was using Regsvcs.exe to register each COM+ component. I noticed after a while that the installer wasn’t making any progress and that my dual-proc system was stuck at 50% CPU uti­liza­tion. I attached a debugger to the offending process, regsvcs, and found that it was stuck in the following infinite loop (dis­as­sem­bly courtesy of Reflector):

internal void System.EnterpriseServices.CatalogSync.Wait()
  if (this._set)
    RegistryKey key1
      = Registry.LocalMachine.OpenSubKey(@"SOFTWARE\Classes\CLSID");
    while (true)
      int num1 = (int) key1.GetValue("CLBVersion", 0);
      if (num1 != this._version)
    this._set = false;

There are two severe problems with this code.

  1. The loop should time out. There must be some reasonable limit after
    which you can in­con­tro­vert­ibly say that something must have gone wrong, and throw an exception. There has to be some way to terminate a loop.
  2. Never use Sleep(0) in a loop. Sleep(0) yields the processor only
    if there’s a runnable thread. If there isn’t, Sleep(0) will return im­me­di­ate­ly. If the code is sitting in a tight loop, the net effect is that it will maximize the CPU until the thread’s quantum is exhausted. There are no other runnable threads, so the scheduler im­me­di­ate­ly starts this thread again. This code will run until your CPU burns out.

(And, yes, I have committed both of these sins in shipping code. Why do you ask?)

I don’t know what the calling code is doing or why CLBVersion isn’t being altered by some other thread or process. I had to use RegEdit to modify this value to get the loop to terminate, whereupon RegSvcs im­me­di­ate­ly did its work and terminated. And then it started all over again, with the next invocation of RegSvcs on another COM+ component. I don’t know if the components are really installed properly. I had to leave at that point.

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