Just An Application

May 25, 2012

Adventures In Distributed Garbage Collection: Part Fourteen – Post Unbind Service State

Filed under: Android, Android Internals, Java, Mobile Java, Services — Tags: , , , , — Simon Lewis @ 6:00 am

1.0 Object State

Once the client has unbound from the Fastnet Service then on the basis of the source code we would expect that in the Service process

  • there should no longer be a reference to the FastnetService object from the ActivityThread via its mServices instance variable

  • the FastnetService object should no longer exist

  • the FastnetServiceBinder object should no longer exist

The production of a diagram showing the absence of these things is left as an exercise for the reader.

2.0 Java Heap State

This graph was generated from a Java heap dump of the Service process taken after the client has unbound from the Fastnet Service.

Like its counterpart here it was generated using the FastnetService object [0x40517518] as the root. As before greyed out nodes have been filtered, that is, one or more instance variables have been omitted for clarity.

The existence of this graph is problematic. If the FastnetService object is no longer in the Java heap it should not be possible to generate
a graph with it as the root.

Evidently the graph does exist therefore the assumption that the FastnetService object no longer existing in the Java heap is wrong.

The graph shows two references to the FastnetService object

  • one from the FastnetServiceBinder object [0x40517fc0], and

  • one from the ContextImpl object [0x40517548]

However none of these objects are referenced from any other objects in the graph so this does not explain why the FastnetService object still exists. Either it, or something which references it, is being referenced by something else which is not reachable from any object in the graph.

According to MAT there are no other references to the FastnetService object but there is another reference to the FastnetServiceBinder object.

The reference is identified as Native Stack and it is a GC Root, that is, it is a reference that will ensure the FastnetServiceBinder object will not be garbage collected as long as the GC Root continues to exist.

The Native Stack GC Root is described in the MAT documentation as follows.

In or out parameters in native code, such as user defined JNI code or JVM internal code. This is often the case as many methods have native parts and the objects handled as method parameters become GC roots. For example, parameters used for file/network I/O methods or reflection.

It is not obvious what this reference from the native code might be but presumably it is transient. Possibly the continued existence of the FastnetService object is simply an anomaly that happens to have occurred on this occasion.


Copyright (c) 2012 By Simon Lewis. All Rights Reserved.

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