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Node.js setInterval callback function unexpected halt (github.com)
65 points by luu 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments

Ouch, not a good look when someone keeps mentioning that you should never expect a month of uptime.

I am impressed the reporter of the bug kept his cool and did all the debugging work for them using libfaketime while they blobiated about code not supposed to be running for 25 days and being unable to reproduce anything.

Eh, I've seen worse. Overall it seems everyone was pretty cooperative. We're just lucky this wasn't an npm bug...

2^31 seconds is a little more than 68 years. But the thread discusses 2^31 milliseconds, which is a little less than a month.

It's milliseconds, the title is incorrect as stated in the comments here and the linked issue thread.

Yes I fixed my comment.

It’s amusing to see the bottom of issue threads like this grow with messages “issue was referenced from another project.” It would be cool to generate a graph of which projects have issues linking to each other. I suppose it would be sort of like a dependency graph, but one that only includes the most fragile dependencies. :)

> Note that what I meant by that isn't that your services aren't expected to be up for a month. It's that redundancy is expected (2+ instances behind a load balancer) so servers are resilient to failure.

I guess thats why he mentioned gameservers specifically, as those often depend on being a single node

Even if not a gameserver, virtually anything should not be buggy after one month of uptime. That is just ridiculous. Redundancy is completely orthogonal to this issue.

I hate and like people behind JS development as a language at the same time.

Node.js devs more than anybody else realize what's wrong with the general direction of mainstream webdev languages, while at the same time cultivating that culture around themselves like that.

A good decision they made was not using high level IO abstractions that both eats performance, and obscures synchronicity implications.

And the bad one is their general chabuduo attitude. While nobody in a sane mind will use node.js for an airplane autopilot,or a space mission software, there is no reason for them not to strive for improving node.js reliability to the extend demanded in the "serious software" industry

> While nobody in a sane mind will use node.js for an airplane autopilot,or a space mission software,

The Nightscout artificial pancreas system runs Node.js.


With this bug, glucose monitor readings would stop being delivered after 25 days.

And if you boot all your redundant servers at the same time, they're all going to go down pretty close to the same time as well.

And you also need to know about this bug in order to make your server go down after 2^31 ms. As stated in the Github issue, the service remained otherwise functional.

So the lesson learned: Dont' check if the service is up, just restart it anyways.

Exactly, that is one of the problems.

Here is the commit that fixes it: https://github.com/nodejs/node/pull/22214

TL;DR from the GitHub discussion: had to do with an integer overflow related to oxffffff hex string lengths and unsigned ints, introduced in one of the Node 10.x versions. This is the pull request that fixes it: https://github.com/nodejs/node/pull/22214

doesn't this fix mean it crashes after 2^32 milliseconds now?

No, it only uses an int if the value is less than 0xffffffff, otherwise it uses a double.

That means it's ok up to 2^53 milliseconds, at which point it starts losing precision (you can't represent every integer above 2^53 as a double, it gets rounded).

It doesn't really matter because no computer that exists today will still be running in 2^53 milliseconds.

AFAICT hasn't the fix just kicked the can down the road to 2^64 milliseconds? Future NodeJS coders 585 million years from now are going to be cursing at us...

exactly same thing i thought when i see some timer bug (not recurring events)

i actually came to this bug couple times (nw.js user here) i re-initialize timers once in a week. :/

Seems similar to this beauty: https://github.com/nodejs/node/issues/12115

You seem to be making some sort of negative judgment about that particular issue. Perhaps you'd care to give us the benefit of your reasoning.

> You seem to be making some sort of negative judgment about that particular issue. Perhaps you'd care to give us the benefit of your reasoning.

A freshman learns not to store data in floating point data types if the significant digits of the data's domain exceeds the floating points guaranteed 1:1 domain.

Some maintainers of node.js's file system module did not (or did not care about it)[].

Given that JS developers are hailed as the pinnacle of software engineering, this strikes me as odd.

[] "But JS does not have a proper 64 bit datatype / BigInts" ... that's not an argument

Incorrect title, should be 2^31 milliseconds

Which is about 25 days, or roughly a month, either of which would make a better title. I read the article hoping to discover how they ran a test that was 60 years long...

I don't think so, seeing 2^31 (units) immediately tells me what's probably going wrong in a way that 25 days or ~1 month doesn't unless I go and convert that into milliseconds.

Just spitballing, could use a tool like the debugger to inject a value into a system library function to set it to 59.99 years or whatever value necessary to do tests.

Well it would've been the same as what they did for the 25 days case I imagine - using libfaketime.

> I read the article hoping to discover how they ran a test that was 60 years long...

If you read the link you could figure that out: ;)

"I used libfaketime to speed things up by a factor of 1000 on a linux server "

Agreed, I just read the title and thought: Who cares? there is no way this could be a problem yet.

Even Windows 95 lasted longer than that: https://www.cnet.com/news/windows-may-crash-after-49-7-days/


I get that you're expressing a personal opinion, but in this form it's just vacuous snark and doesn't belong on this site. Maybe you could rephrase so that we might stand to learn something?


Its a feature rather than a bug ;)

Can't think why someone would do that. Such a large number of milliseconds just not practical.

stuff like crons, logging stats, all kinds of things. Note that this apparently even affected some setTimeout calls after that long, so you couldn't schedule something to happen 500 ms from now, for example...

Long runtime apps, calendar-esque scheduling, etc al@ seem like things that could reasonably* hit that

* specifically they could reasonably end up with time steps >= 2^31ms. Even if the design isn’t ideal it should still work

That does not sound like a sound implementation.

The bug occurs if your process reaches ~25 days, period. Regardless of the interval that you set - it could be 1ms and still fail. It has been 'fixed' and is now ~49 days, but setTimeout does not throw and so you have to rely on your process crashing due to some other condition.

If you have setTimeout anywhere in your code (including packages), you will need to force it to crash/exit once a month.

The implementation of setTimeout in Node is not sound.

It’s perfectly reasonable:

Run task every 4 weeks:

Onesecond = 1000;

Oneminute = 60 * oneSecond;

oneHour = 60 * oneMinute;

oneDay = 24 * oneHour;

oneWeek = 7 * oneDay;

Then from that reasonable set of definitions you make a even fire in 4 * oneWeek.

Maybe you aren’t even using setTimeout, but you’re using a timer library that internally is just using aetTineout (what does node have besides setTimeout by the way?).

You end up with an accumulation of individually reasonable questions that don’t work, for no obvious reason.

That said someone else is saying this actually is a “timers stop working in general after X days”, rather than just long lifetime timers, which makes this even more obtuse.

IMHO Scheduling the task beyond 12-24 hours, especially when it requires the Runtime timers overhead won't be practical.

I thank everyone from bottom of my heart who downvoted the comment but know this you will NOT get a gift from Santa this christmas. ;)

Maybe next time read the bug report. 500 is not an impractically large number of milliseconds.

Either it works or it does not. If it doesn't, you document the fact.

If it doesn't work, the attempt to set a timer that won't ever fire should throw as well.

I was pointing such large number of milliseconds passed as argument.

The bug was discovered on a call with 500 passed as the number of milliseconds.

So this is like a reminder to anyone who always reminder others that you do not need to solve problems like Google has.

Well, so does the settimeout. A lot of underlying code is limited to signed 32 bit integers as per prehistoric convention.

JS committee should consider turning timer values into js native signed double

> cumulative running time is not needed to calculate when next to call the interval

I don't see how that solves anything, you are just defining a new limit to be broken, which would occur when the timer resolution is next increased if not in practice.

It makes sense that either the actual interval or timeout periods are limited by the underlying types used to store them... but I see no intrinsic reason why cumulative time that setInterval runs need be limited by any underlying type (cumulative running time is not needed to calculate when next to call the interval).

>I don't see how that solves anything, you are just defining a new limit to be broken, which would occur when the timer resolution is next increased if not in practice.

I think that having some uniformity in a zoo of rolloverable values will make life easier to people who don't read the language spec meticulously to the letter.

And yes, by any extend of human imagination, no programming language can justify implemention of a plain periodic timer through (oldTime - nowTime) % interval.

A timer should be a timer, and modern opetating sysyems provide developers with a whole arsenal of high level timer abstractions just for those people to not to write their own hacks.

Would someone seriously encounter a defect like that? Who would set a function to run after ~25 days (2^31 milliseconds) and expect that that process still runs after all those days? You're not safeguarding yourself against the very likely situation that processes could stop over such a long period.

Also, considering the length of that period, it's most likely that the delay for the function-to-be-called is from a business (and not some technical) requirement. So, a more fitting design would be to set up a delayed job for asynchronously executing long-running or later tasks in the background by a scheduler.

Conceptually they are not scheduling a function to be run after a month, but scheduling it to run twice per second as long as the process is running. When the process is still running a month later, it is very unexpected that the scheduling would suddenly stop.

My bad, perhaps because of the original (or confusing) post title earlier. A scheduling process that stops after 25 days is indeed a more realistic bug than a function planned for execution in 25 days not being called.

The bug happened for setInterval() with any timeout (the bug report is for one with 500 milliseconds).

The problem is that the function that returned the current time was overflowing a 32-bit integer, so interval calculations were messed up and setInteval() wouldn't fire.

The fix[1] was simply to change an int to an unsigned int.

[1] https://github.com/nodejs/node/pull/22214/commits/3bb7fdfbbe...

So, kudos to the maintainer to solve the issue, as it is a valid bug to be fixed... but it's not likely (or a case of suboptimal design) that such a defect would ever be encountered for real.

I quite often write stuff with a function that gets called every few minutes or seconds... which is what the bug was actually discovered on. That's not suboptimal design.

Agreed. A scheduling process that stops (does not call functions anymore) after 25 days is a strange phenomenon. I misread the post title.

What? The scheduled delay isn't 25 days.

No, I realized later. But also that case wouldn't have worked :-)

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