Golang Internals Part 1: Autogenerated functions (and how to get rid of them)

Maybe if you are like us at MinIO, you have every now and then come across ‘autogenerated’ functions in your Golang call stacks and wondered what they are all about?

We had a case the other day where the call stack showed something like the following:

   cmd.retryStorage.ListDir(0x12847c0, 0xc420402e70, 0x1, ...)
 minio/cmd/retry-storage.go:183 +0x72

cmd.(*retryStorage).ListDir(0xc4201624b0, 0xdf3b5f, 0xe, 0x25, ...)
                           :932 +0xaf

       cmd.cleanupDir.func1(0xf18f1ec540, 0x25, 0x24, 0xde7eb5)
minio/cmd/object-api-com.go:215 +0xe1
             cmd.cleanupDir(0x1284860, 0xc4201624b0, 0xdf3b5f, ...)
minio/cmd/object-api-com.go:231 +0x1d1

As you can see the second function looks similar to the first function (value receiver, defined in our MinIO code at minio/cmd/retry-storage.go:183), however it takes a pointer receiver instead. Also suspiciously there is just a line number shown for the second function but the file name for the source code is absent.

The code that created this call stack originates from the following function where a (recursive) function is declared that in turn calls storage.ListDirwhereby storage is passed into cleanupDir.

// Cleanup a directory recursively.
func cleanupDir(storage StorageAPI, volume, dirPath string) error {
	var delFunc func(string) error
	// Function to delete entries recursively.
	delFunc = func(entryPath string) error {

		// List directories
		entries, err := storage.ListDir(volume, entryPath)
		if err != nil { 
			return err

		// Recurse and delete all other entries
		for _, entry := range entries {
			err = delFunc(pathJoin(entryPath, entry))
			if err != nil {
				return err
		return nil
	return delFunc(retainSlash(pathJoin(dirPath)))

Looking at the code above, one would assume that storage.ListDir (value receiver) is called immediately without any need for a pointer receiver version (cmd.(*retryStorage).ListDir) to be called in between. So what is going on here?

Autogenerated functions

Let’s first examine what this pointer receiver function is all about. By running go tool objdump -s ListDir minio we can get the definition of the function and see that it is apparently <autogenerated>:

TEXT minio/cmd.(*retryStorage).ListDir(SB) <autogenerated>
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e00	GS MOVQ GS:0x8a0, CX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e09	CMPQ 0x10(CX), SP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e0d	JBE 0x1f2f42
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e13	SUBQ $0x78, SP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e17	MOVQ BP, 0x70(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e1c	LEAQ 0x70(SP), BP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e21	MOVQ 0x20(CX), BX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e25	TESTQ BX, BX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e28	JE 0x1f2e3a
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e2a	LEAQ 0x80(SP), DI
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e32	CMPQ DI, 0(BX)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e35	JNE 0x1f2e3a
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e37	MOVQ SP, 0(BX)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e3a	MOVQ 0x80(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e42	TESTQ AX, AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e45	JE 0x1f2efa
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e4b	MOVQ 0x80(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e53	MOVQ 0(AX), CX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e56	MOVQ CX, 0(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e5a	LEAQ 0x8(AX), SI
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e5e	LEAQ 0x8(SP), DI
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e63	MOVQ BP, -0x10(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e68	LEAQ -0x10(SP), BP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e6d	CALL 0x5d5a4
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e72	MOVQ 0(BP), BP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e76	MOVQ 0x88(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e7e	MOVQ AX, 0x28(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e83	MOVQ 0x90(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e8b	MOVQ AX, 0x30(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e90	MOVQ 0x98(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e98	MOVQ AX, 0x38(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2e9d	MOVQ 0xa0(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ea5	MOVQ AX, 0x40(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2eaa	CALL cmd.retryStorage.ListDir(SB)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2eaf	MOVQ 0x48(SP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2eb4	MOVQ 0x50(SP), CX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2eb9	MOVQ 0x58(SP), DX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ebe	MOVQ 0x60(SP), BX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ec3	MOVQ 0x68(SP), SI
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ec8	MOVQ AX, 0xa8(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ed0	MOVQ CX, 0xb0(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ed8	MOVQ DX, 0xb8(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ee0	MOVQ BX, 0xc0(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ee8	MOVQ SI, 0xc8(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ef0	MOVQ 0x70(SP), BP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ef5	ADDQ $0x78, SP
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2ef9	RET
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2efa	LEAQ 0x96c2bb(IP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f01	MOVQ AX, 0(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f05	MOVQ $0x3, 0x8(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f0e	LEAQ 0x976870(IP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f15	MOVQ AX, 0x10(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f1a	MOVQ $0xc, 0x18(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f23	LEAQ 0x9707a2(IP), AX
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f2a	MOVQ AX, 0x20(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f2f	MOVQ $0x7, 0x28(SP)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f38	CALL runtime.panicwrap(SB)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f3d	JMP 0x1f2e4b
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f42	CALL runtime.morestack_noctxt(SB)
 <autogenerated>:926  0x1f2f47	JMP cmd.(*retryStorage).ListDir(SB)

So we can see that, about half way in at offset 0x1f2eaa, it calls retryStorage.ListDir (value receiver) which we have defined in our Golang code at minio/cmd/retry-storage.go:183. Before this it sets up all arguments on the stack which includes dereferencing *retryStorage and creating a copy of it on the stack (as retryStorage.ListDir needs).

After the CALL the return arguments are loaded (offsets 0x1f2eaf through to 0x1f2ec3) and copied into the appropriate slots (offsets 0x1f2ec8 through to 0x1f2ee8) for the return arguments of (*retryStorage).ListDir after which the autogenerated function returns.

So all that (*retryStorage).ListDir essentially does is wrapping the call to retryStorage.ListDir and making sure that the object pointed to by the pointer receiver is not modified.

Why does Golang do this?

Now that we know what (*retryStorage).ListDir does, the next question is why does Golang do this? This has to do with the fact that StorageAPI is an interface type, and therefore the storage argument in cleanupDir is an interface value which effectively is a two-pointer structure: Interface values are represented as a two-word pair giving a pointer to information about the type stored in the interface and a pointer to the associated data.

So when we make the call to storage.ListDir we are caught in the situation that we have access to a pointer to retryStorage but only a value receiver method for ListDir. This is then where the Golang compiler is nice enough to (auto)generate it for us, although it does come at a considerable execution cost since we need to dereference our object and copy the return arguments etc. Thanks to @thatcks for providing a clarification on this point.

What if you don’t want this?

Well, first of all you don’t necessarily need to ‘fix’ anything because there is nothing inherently wrong and your code will run just fine.

However if you do want to fix it, it is deceptively simple: simply change func (f retryStorage) ListDir(...) to func (f *retryStorage) ListDir(...) at minio/cmd/retry-storage.go:183 and you are all set as per:

TEXT github.com/minio/minio/cmd.(*retryStorage).ListDir(SB)
 retry-storage.go:199	0x15edc0	GS MOVQ GS:0x8a0, CX
 retry-storage.go:199	0x15edc9	CMPQ 0x10(CX), SP
 retry-storage.go:199	0x15edcd	JBE 0x15efe5
 <rest omitted>

Obviously you will want to make sure that your implementation of the function does not by accident change the value of f because you will then start noticing this (which would most likely be a little weird anyway because presumably the intent of changing the contents of f would be of the caller to take notice of this which does not happen with value receiver functions).

And, as a free bonus, you will shave a couple of hundreds of bytes of the size of your executable (for just this single function, not a bad result for just adding a single * in your source code file…).


Hopefully this blog post will have given you some insights into how Golang functions internally and clarifies what these autogenerated functions are about and what you may do about them.

In a later post in this series we will also elaborate more on the performance of pointer receiver versus value receiver functions.

Previous Post Next Post