[p4perl] memory leak in P4Perl and API fix (with patch)

John LoVerso John.LoVerso at mathworks.com
Tue Mar 6 14:49:49 PST 2007

Sandy Currier and I found two problems in P4Perl that the stable
version (3.5708) and in the devel tip (3.5787).

1. As documented in the changelog for 3.5038, this leaks like a sieve:
        while (1) {
            my $p4 = new P4;

It leaks just as much when making multiple requests the same P4 object,
as in:

        while (1) {
            $res = $p4->changes('-m2')

The leak is caused by the use of 'newAV()' in P4Result::Reset(), since
fails to free the previous values of the 3 arrays (really the AV * array
head, since the contents of the array have been cleared by the
This could be fixed by just removing the calls to newAV(), but that
brings us to...

2. The second problem is that each successive call to a P4 object
the previous return value.  You can see this in:

        my $p4 = new P4;

        my $res1 = $p4->changes('-m3');
        print "result1 has ".scalar(@$res1)." entries\n";

        my $res2 = $p4->users('-m2');
        print "result2 has ".scalar(@$res2)." entries\n";

        print "result1 has ".scalar(@$res1)." entries\n";

This displays:

        result1 has 3 entries
        result2 has 2 entries
        result1 has 0 entries

That's because of the same code path through P4Result::Reset(), which
ends up calling av_undef() via P4Result::Clear().  PerlClientApi::Run()
returns a new reference to the output array collected in P4Result, and
so the call to av_undef() actually destroys the previously returned

The fix to this is just as simple: instead of calling av_undef(),
call sv_free() to just decrement the reference count being held on the
arrays in the P4Result object.  If we've already returned a reference
on the output array to the user, their reference count will keep their
copy in existence.  If not, the array will be reclaimed by Perl.
The call to newAV() gets a fresh array for the next operation.

The combined fix for both of the above is in the attached patch.

John & Sandy

John LoVerso
The MathWorks 
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