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Exception Handling Interface


Hardware exceptions (invalid memory accesses, division by zero and etc) can not be caught in the standard C/C++. Different OS provide different mechanisms to catch hardware exception. POSIX standardizes hardware exception handling via signals. Native Client doesn't support signals but it provides somewhat similar interface. The main difference is that Native Client doesn't allow to resume execution from the failed instruction. Note, that exception handling is disabled for PNaCl because exception handling interface uses platform-dependent register context.

Retrieving Hardware Exception Handling Interface

#include <irt.h>

struct nacl_irt_exception_handling exception_handling_interface;

size_t interface_size = nacl_interface_query(




if (interface_size != sizeof(exception_handling_interface)) {

/* error */


Using nacl_exception Library

An alternative way to access hardware exception handling interface is via nacl_exception library (it is part of libc). Add -lnacl_exception flag and use functions from nacl/nacl_exception.h header. They have the same parameters and their names are just prefixed with nacl_exception.

Handling Hardware Exceptions

Hardware exception handlers are declared as

typedef void (*NaClExceptionHandler)(struct NaClExceptionContext *context);

in irt.h. They receive platform-dependent hardware exception context which contains the register state. This function should not return since there is nowhere to return to. Once exception handler is called, the exception handling is disabled on this thread. You must call

int exception_clear_flag(void);

if you need to reenable it (you want to handle hardware exceptions inside hardware exception handler for example). This function returns 0 on success and error code on error (exception handling is disabled). If hardware exception happens on a thread where exception handling is disabled, the whole NaCl process is terminated.

The definition of NaClExceptionContext can be found in nacl/nacl_exception.h header.

NaCl supports only one exception handler per process. The exception handler is set with

int exception_handler(NaClExceptionHandler handler,

NaClExceptionHandler *old_handler);

This function returns 0 on success, or error code on error (exception handling is disabled, handler is not aligned to the bundle size or outside of code region, exception handler thread is failed to start). Old exception handler is returned via old_handler parameter. In order to disable exception handling, pass NULL exception handler.

Exception handler is called on current thread stack by default. If you want to set alternative stack (to handle stack overflows for example) for exception handler, use

int exception_stack(void *stack, size_t size);

The alternative stack is set per thread. The function returns 0 on success and error code on error (stack location is outside of NaCl address space). If you want to disable alternative stack, call this function with NULL stack pointer and zero size.