Android JNI – Call AttachCurrentThread without DetachCurrentThread

All we need is a simple explanation of the problem, which is provided below.

I have been reading about JNI stuff and can’t seem to figure out what happens if a thread starts -> calls AttachCurrentThread() -> make some JNI calls -> thread exit.

Ideally, we should call DetachCurrentThread() before thread exits, however, what are the implications if the app doesn’t do that? Would it cause memory leak or any other problem?

Let’s Solve it:

This is a common error many developers questioned us about it. So we write the explanation above. You just have to apply the suggested solution to your code and it will do for you. If you still getting this error after applying this code then comment below we will get back to you with the new method.

Solution 1

Not calling DetachCurrentThread() will definitely cause a memory leak; other consequences are JVM-specific, and probably irrelevant for Android apps, where the JVM shuts down when the process exits. There are quite a few C++ wrappers that help to manage thread Attach/Detach, see for example:

Update: 1000 thanks to fadden for the eye-opening link; on Dalvik, a thread that exits without calling DetachCurrentThread(), brings the whole VM and the process crashing down.

Here is the logcat from the official emulator, my code based on the HelloJni sample from NDK:

10-26 04:16:25.853: D/dalvikvm(1554): Trying to load lib /data/app-lib/com.example.hellojni-2/ 0xb3d264f0
10-26 04:16:25.893: D/dalvikvm(1554): Added shared lib /data/app-lib/com.example.hellojni-2/ 0xb3d264f0
10-26 04:16:25.893: D/dalvikvm(1554): No JNI_OnLoad found in /data/app-lib/com.example.hellojni-2/ 0xb3d264f0, skipping init
10-26 04:16:26.463: D/gralloc_goldfish(1554): Emulator without GPU emulation detected.
10-26 04:16:31.033: D/threadFunction(1554): Attaching
10-26 04:16:31.173: D/threadFunction(1554): Not Detaching
10-26 04:16:31.183: D/dalvikvm(1554): threadid=11: thread exiting, not yet detached (count=0)
10-26 04:16:31.193: D/dalvikvm(1554): threadid=11: thread exiting, not yet detached (count=1)
10-26 04:16:31.193: E/dalvikvm(1554): threadid=11: native thread exited without detaching
10-26 04:16:31.193: E/dalvikvm(1554): VM aborting
10-26 04:16:31.213: A/libc(1554): Fatal signal 6 (SIGABRT) at 0x00000612 (code=-6), thread 1567 (xample.hellojni)

Here is the relevant function added to hello-jni.c:

static JavaVM* jvm = 0;
static jobject activity = 0; // GlobalRef

void* threadFunction(void* irrelevant)
    JNIEnv* env;

    __android_log_print(ANDROID_LOG_DEBUG, "threadFunction", "Attaching");

    (*jvm)->AttachCurrentThread(jvm, &env, NULL);

    jclass clazz = (*env)->GetObjectClass(env, activity);
    jmethodID methodID = (*env)->GetMethodID(env, clazz, "finish", "()V" );
    (*env)->CallVoidMethod(env, activity, methodID);

    __android_log_print(ANDROID_LOG_DEBUG, "threadFunction", "Not Detaching");
//    (*jvm)->DetachCurrentThread(jvm);

Java_com_example_hellojni_HelloJni_stringFromJNI( JNIEnv* env,
                                                  jobject thiz )
    (*env)->GetJavaVM(env, &jvm);
    activity = (*env)->NewGlobalRef(env, thiz);

    pthread_t hThread;
    pthread_create(&hThread, NULL, &threadFunction, NULL);
    return (*env)->NewStringUTF(env, "Hello from JNI !");

A nice implementation of this strategy can be found in WebRTC git repo.

Note: You are free to use these solutions for your personal use. We recommend you apply the first solution to your code because it was tested in our system before posting it on this page.

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