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Uniquely Identifying a Module's Build

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It is common practice to embed a version resource (VS_VERSIONINFO) into PE images such as DLL and EXE files. While this resource mainly serves informational purposes, the version information is occasionaly used to perform certain checks, such as verifying the module’s suitability for a particular purpose. Under certain circumstances, however, this versioning information may be too imprecise: Versions are not necessarily incremented after each build, so it is possible that two copies of a module carry the same versioning information, yet differ significantly in their implementation.

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cfix 1.2 Installer Fixed for AMD64

The cfix 1.2 package as released last week contained a rather stupid bug that the new build, 1.2.0.3244, now fixes: the amd64 binaries cfix64.exe and cfixkr64.sys were wrongly installed as cfix32.exe and cfixkr32.sys, respectively. Not only did this stand in contrast to what the documenation stated, it also resulted in cfix being unable to load the cfixkr driver on AMD64 platforms. The new MSI package is now available for download on Sourceforge.

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cfix 1.2 introduces improved C++ support

cfix 1.2, which has been released today, introduces a number of new features, the most prominent being improved support for C++ and additional execution options. New C++ API To date, cfix has primarily focussed on C as the programming language to write unit tests in. Although C++ has always been supported, cfix has not made use of the additional capabilities C++ provides. With version 1.2, cfix makes C++ a first class citizen and introduces an additional API that leverages the benefits of C++ and allows writing test cases in a more convenient manner.

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Effective Leak Detection with the Debug CRT and Application Verifier

Programming memory leaks in C or C++ is easy. Even careful programming often cannot avoid the little mistakes that finally end up in your program having a memory leak. Thankfully, however, there are plenty of helpful tools that assist in finding leaks as early as possible. One especially helpful tool for leak detection is the debug CRT. Although the leak detection facilities provided by the debug CRT are not as far-reaching as those of, say, UMDH, using the debug CRT is probably the most friction-less way of identifying leaks.

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Debugging a Debugger Deadlock

While I still use VisualStudio 2005 Team System for most of my development, I want to make sure that cfix works properly with VisualStudio 2008 as well. To test that, I recently started a Windows 2003 Server VM, installed VCExpress 2008 and cfix and attempted to run an example project in the VC debugger. As long as no assertions fired, everything seemed fine. I then altered the example’s source code so that one of the assertion would fail, ran it in the debugger – and waited.

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cfix 1.1 may experience hangs when used in the VisualStudio 2008 debugger

When used in conjunction with the VisualStudio 2008 debugger, cfix may hang indefinitely as soon as an assertion fails. The reason for this behavior is a Symbol Server-caused deadlock between the debugger and cfix. I am going to discuss the details of this deadlock in a separate post. Until a new version of cfix is available, you can work around this problem as follows: Go to the cfix installation directory and rename or delete symsrv.

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cfix 1.1 introduces NT kernel mode unit tests

cfix 1.1 introduces a number of new features. The most important among these is the additional ability to write kernel mode unit tests, i.e. unit tests that are run in kernel mode. Needless to say, cfix 1.1 still supports user mode unit tests. All contemporary unit testing frameworks focus on unit testing in user mode. Certainly, the vast majority of testing code can be assumed to be targeting user mode, so this does not come at a surprise.

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Explicit Symbol Loading with dbghelp

When working with symbols, the default case is that you either analyze the current process, a concurrently running process or maybe even the kernel. dbghelp provides special support for these use cases and getting the right symbols to load is usually easy – having access to the process being analyzed, dbghelp can obtain the necessary module information by itself and will come up with the matching symbols. Things are not quite as easy when analyzing symbols for a process (or kernel) that is not running any more or executes on a different machine.

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cfix 1.0.1 adds support for Windows 2000

Despite the fact that mainstream support for Windows 2000 has ended in 2005 and the system is well on its way to retirement, Windows 2000 is still in wide use today. As such, it remains being an important target platform for many software packages. The fact that cfix has not provided support for Windows 2000 was thus unfortunate – after all, if Windows 2000 is among the target platforms of your software, you should be able to run your tests on this platform.

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Fun with low level SEH

Most code that uses Structured Exception Handling does this with the help of the compiler, e.g. by using try/except/__finally. Still, it is possible to do everything by hand, i.e. to provide your own exception handlers and set up the exception registration records manually. However, as this entire topic is not documented very well, doing so opens room for all kind of surprises… Although more than 10 years old, the best article on this topic still seems to be Matt Pirtrek’s A Crash Course on the Depths of Win32™ Structured Exception Handling, which I assume you have read.

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