/Haskell 7


Copyright (c) The University of Glasgow 2001
License BSD-style (see the file libraries/base/LICENSE)
Maintainer libraries@haskell.org
Stability provisional
Portability portable
Safe Haskell Unsafe
Language Haskell2010



"Unsafe" IO operations.

Unsafe IO operations

unsafePerformIO :: IO a -> a Source

This is the "back door" into the IO monad, allowing IO computation to be performed at any time. For this to be safe, the IO computation should be free of side effects and independent of its environment.

If the I/O computation wrapped in unsafePerformIO performs side effects, then the relative order in which those side effects take place (relative to the main I/O trunk, or other calls to unsafePerformIO) is indeterminate. Furthermore, when using unsafePerformIO to cause side-effects, you should take the following precautions to ensure the side effects are performed as many times as you expect them to be. Note that these precautions are necessary for GHC, but may not be sufficient, and other compilers may require different precautions:

  • Use {-# NOINLINE foo #-} as a pragma on any function foo that calls unsafePerformIO. If the call is inlined, the I/O may be performed more than once.
  • Use the compiler flag -fno-cse to prevent common sub-expression elimination being performed on the module, which might combine two side effects that were meant to be separate. A good example is using multiple global variables (like test in the example below).
  • Make sure that the either you switch off let-floating (-fno-full-laziness), or that the call to unsafePerformIO cannot float outside a lambda. For example, if you say: f x = unsafePerformIO (newIORef []) you may get only one reference cell shared between all calls to f. Better would be f x = unsafePerformIO (newIORef [x]) because now it can't float outside the lambda.

It is less well known that unsafePerformIO is not type safe. For example:

    test :: IORef [a]
    test = unsafePerformIO $ newIORef []

    main = do
            writeIORef test [42]
            bang <- readIORef test
            print (bang :: [Char])

This program will core dump. This problem with polymorphic references is well known in the ML community, and does not arise with normal monadic use of references. There is no easy way to make it impossible once you use unsafePerformIO. Indeed, it is possible to write coerce :: a -> b with the help of unsafePerformIO. So be careful!

unsafeDupablePerformIO :: IO a -> a Source

This version of unsafePerformIO is more efficient because it omits the check that the IO is only being performed by a single thread. Hence, when you use unsafeDupablePerformIO, there is a possibility that the IO action may be performed multiple times (on a multiprocessor), and you should therefore ensure that it gives the same results each time. It may even happen that one of the duplicated IO actions is only run partially, and then interrupted in the middle without an exception being raised. Therefore, functions like bracket cannot be used safely within unsafeDupablePerformIO.


unsafeInterleaveIO :: IO a -> IO a Source

unsafeInterleaveIO allows IO computation to be deferred lazily. When passed a value of type IO a, the IO will only be performed when the value of the a is demanded. This is used to implement lazy file reading, see hGetContents.

unsafeFixIO :: (a -> IO a) -> IO a Source

A slightly faster version of fixIO that may not be safe to use with multiple threads. The unsafety arises when used like this:

 unsafeFixIO $ \r -> do
    forkIO (print r)
    return (...)

In this case, the child thread will receive a NonTermination exception instead of waiting for the value of r to be computed.


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Licensed under a BSD-style license (see top of the page).