Thread: fseek() changing an unrelated variable?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Whitby, Canada

    fseek() changing an unrelated variable?

    Hi all,
    Sorry, I'm a bit new at this, but I'm trying to get a certain function to work on my Mac (using XCode on Leopard), and I've discovered some weird behaviour. I've atomized the issue down to this code:

    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <string.h>
    int main (int argc, const char * argv[]) {
        char* string;
    	FILE* filename;
    	filename = fopen("sample.pdf", "rb");
    	printf("Enter a string: ");
    	scanf("%s", string);
    	printf("Pass before fseek() = %i\n", strlen(string));
    	printf("Pass after fseek() = %i\n", strlen(string));
    	//printf("String is %i characters long", strlen(string));
        return 0;

    I've been testing with Windows and Mac, but I really need to get this working on the Mac. What happens is, this program takes a string -- it's meant to be a password. However, after doing an fseek operation on a file, it gets very whacky. I'm testing length of the string, and depending on its original length, it either decrements by one, or goes to zero altogether. Here's some sample output:

    Password: asdf
    Pass before fseek() = 4
    Pass after fseek() = 3

    Password: dkdkd
    Pass before fseek() = 5
    Pass after fseek() = 0
    It works fine in Windows. Any suggestions?


  2. #2
    Kernel hacker
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Farncombe, Surrey, England
    I'm utterly surprised that IT "WORKS" at all. By all means, this code should crash.

    The variable string is a pointer to char that hasn't been given a value, so when you do scanf() you are reading into a undefined memory location - you are just "lucky" enough that it doesn't crash immediately [actualy, if I make a mistake where I use an uninitialized pointer, and it does happen, I prefer it when it crashes immediately, rather than "sort of working but behaving strange", which is the situation you are in].

    If you allocate some memory for your "string", you will most likely be able to use it correctly too.

    Compilers can produce warnings - make the compiler programmers happy: Use them!
    Please don't PM me for help - and no, I don't do help over instant messengers.

  3. #3
    Frequently Quite Prolix dwks's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    In other words, storing data into a char* isn't going to work. You need to either use an array
    char string[LENGTH];
    or dynamically allocate memory for yourself.
    char *string = malloc(length);
    /* ... */
    Note that with this you have to put an upper limit on the number of characters the user can enter. (When calculating sizes, don't forget to take the NULL into account.) You can also resize the allocated memory as required, to allocate just the right amount of memory (or maybe a little more) for your string, but it's a little complicated and I'm not going to explain it right now. (Look into realloc() if you're interested.)

    Pedantic note: your FILE* filename variable isn't really a "filename". I usually refer to FILE* pointers as "file pointers" (and UNIX-style int ones as "file descriptors"), while a char* filename like "text.txt" is a "filename".

    Seek and ye shall find. quaere et invenies.

    "Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it." -- Alan Perlis
    "Testing can only prove the presence of bugs, not their absence." -- Edsger Dijkstra
    "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing." -- John Powell

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  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Whitby, Canada
    Aha! Right you are. Thanks so much for your help, and your rapid replies!


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