internal redirect and module context

Maxim Dounin mdounin at
Sat Jan 22 05:20:20 UTC 2022


On Fri, Jan 21, 2022 at 04:07:26PM -0800, Dk Jack wrote:

> I have a question related to internal redirect, I am hoping someone from
> this forum can clarify. The email is a bit long since I wanted to provide
> enough background for my situation.
> In my module, I am creating my module context and saving some state. Some
> of this state is allocated using ngx_palloc. I am releasing this memory by
> adding a pool clean up handler.
> In my module, for certain requests I am doing an internal redirect. My code
> for redirect looks something like this:
>     ngx_http_internal_redirect(r, &new_uri, &r->args);
>     ngx_http_finalize_request(r, NGX_DONE);
> According to the documentation
> it says, on calling internal_redirect, the module context will be erased to
> avoid inconsistencies. It also says, the processing returns to the
> NGX_HTTP_SERVER_REWRITE_PHASE. To understand the behavior better, I
> attached a debugger and added a breakpoint after the above two lines. When
> the debugger stopped at my breakpoint, my module context still seems to be
> valid. I added a second breakpoint in my rewrite-handler and allowed the
> debugger to continue. Now when the debugger stopped at the second
> breakpoint, my module context was erased which seems consistent with the
> documentation.
> So my question is, if my context is erased, what happens to the memory I
> allocated before my module invoked the internal redirect call? I put a log
> statement in my cleanup function and I observed that it is getting invoked
> only once at the end of the request processing. It is not getting called
> when my context is erased after an internal redirect. Since I need my
> context data after redirection, do I reallocate and recreate it? Since my
> clean up code is getting called only once. Would this lead to a memory leak
> if I reallocated after the internal redirect call because I'd be allocated
> once before redirect and once after redirect. Any help or clarification in
> this regard is greatly appreciated.

By saying "all request contexts are erased" the development guide 
means that module contexts will no longer be available via the 
ngx_http_get_module_ctx() macro.  The ngx_http_internal_redirect() 
clears the r->ctx[] array of pointers:

    /* clear the modules contexts */
    ngx_memzero(r->ctx, sizeof(void *) * ngx_http_max_module);

That is, the actual memory you've used for your module context 
will be intact, but the pointer you've saved into request with 
ngx_http_set_module_ctx() macro will no longer be returned by 
the ngx_http_get_module_ctx() macro.

Usually, modules will simply re-allocate context as needed if it's 
not present.  As long as context memory is allocated from the 
request pool, this won't cause a memory leak: all memory allocated 
from the request pool is automatically released when the request 
pool is destroyed.

If you are allocating some external resources, such as open file 
descriptors or memory allocated directly from OS, you'll have to 
use cleanup handler free these resources.  In this case, you have 
to make sure that the cleanup handler you've installed will free 
all the external resources you've allocated.  Usually this means 
that you'll have to add a cleanup handler per resource: for 
example, nginx adds a cleanup handler for each file it opens, see 
ngx_open_cached_file().  Or, if you are keeping pointers to the 
allocated resources in your module context, a cleanup handler per 
each allocated context might be a good option.

Note well that in some cases it might not possible to re-create 
module context, for example, if some information is no longer 
available.  In this case it is possible to preserve the module 
context by saving the pointer elsewhere, and restoring it if 
possible instead of re-allocating if ngx_http_get_module_ctx() 
returns NULL.  For example, the realip module uses request pool 
cleanup handlers to save and restore its context when needed, see 

Hope this helps.

Maxim Dounin

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