Live from Adélie: Streaming Spotify on musl

Spotify on Adélie Linux

Over the July 4th holiday weekend, I was working on a secret project. It was a resounding success and I can now announce to the world: Spotify runs on musl distributions!

This article will describe how I went about accomplishing this feat. If you just want to take Spotify for a test drive on your Adélie workstation or Void desktop, scroll to the “Instructions” heading.


Thanks to these fine dwellers of IRC for helping make sense of the twisty mazes.

  • [[sroracle]]
  • Aerdan
  • cb
  • dalias
  • skarnet

gcompat 0.4.0: how very cash LC_MONETARY of you

The latest release version of gcompat did not get very far:

awilcox on laptop spotify % ./spotify
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Inspecting the core file was minimally helpful:

Thread 1 "ld-musl-x86_64." received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x0000000001d6ff60 in ?? ()
(gdb) bt
#0  0x0000000001d6ff60 in ?? ()
#1  0x00007fffffffd738 in ?? ()
#2  0x0000000001e94f13 in ?? ()
#3  0x00007fffffffd6d0 in ?? ()
#4  0x00007fffffffd738 in ?? ()
#5  0x0000000003e9d691 in ?? ()
#6  0x0000000003e9d698 in ?? ()
#7  0x0000000003e9d691 in ?? ()
#8  0x00007fffffffd738 in ?? ()
#9  0x00007fffffffdc40 in ?? ()
#10 0x0000000001ccd0f0 in ?? ()
#11 0x00007fffffffd7a0 in ?? ()
#12 0x0000000000000001 in ?? ()
#13 0x00007fffffffd720 in ?? ()
#14 0x0000000001e92e92 in ?? ()
#15 0x0000000003e9d691 in ?? ()
#16 0x0000000003e9d698 in ?? ()
#17 0x00007fffffffd738 in ?? ()
#18 0x00007fffffffd738 in ?? ()
#19 0x00007fffffffd760 in ?? ()
#20 0x0000000001e9dd51 in ?? ()
#21 0x00007fffffffdc40 in ?? ()
#22 0x0000000003e9b3e0 in ?? ()
#23 0x00007fffffffd7e8 in ?? ()
#24 0x00007fffffffd7b8 in ?? ()
#25 0x00007fffffffd7b8 in ?? ()
#26 0x00007fffffffd828 in ?? ()
#27 0x00007fffffffd810 in ?? ()
#28 0x0000000001e9df09 in ?? ()
#29 0x612f656d6f682f1a in ?? ()
#30 0x0000786f636c6977 in ?? ()
#31 0x0000000000000000 in ?? ()
(gdb) info registers
rax            0x54454e4f4d5f434c  6072345775086453580
rbx            0x53                83
rcx            0x53                83
rdx            0x2                 2
rsi            0x53                83
rdi            0x3e9b1a0           65647008
rbp            0x7fffffffd6f0      0x7fffffffd6f0
rsp            0x7fffffffd690      0x7fffffffd690
r8             0x0                 0
r9             0x0                 0
r10            0x1                 1
r11            0x7fffffffdb9c      140737488346012
r12            0x7fffffffd6b8      140737488344760
r13            0x7fffffffd6b0      140737488344752
r14            0x7fffffffd6a8      140737488344744
r15            0x7fffffffd6c0      140737488344768
rip            0x1d6ff60           0x1d6ff60
eflags         0x10202             [ IF RF ]
cs             0x33                51
ss             0x2b                43
ds             0x0                 0
es             0x0                 0
fs             0x0                 0
gs             0x0                 0

What are we trying to do? Looking at symbols present in the Spotify binary, this is actually part of the G++ runtime; specifically, std::ctype::do_tolower:

  1d6ff51:       48 8b 05 18 a8 12 02    mov    0x212a818(%rip),%rax        # 3e9a770 
  1d6ff58:       48 8b 40 70             mov    0x70(%rax),%rax
  1d6ff5c:       48 0f be cb             movsbq %bl,%rcx
=>1d6ff60:       8a 1c 88                mov    (%rax,%rcx,4),%bl
  1d6ff63:       89 d8                   mov    %ebx,%eax
  1d6ff65:       5b                      pop    %rbx
  1d6ff66:       c3                      retq

That rax value looks suspicious, and we can see if we translate it to ASCII that it is the little-endian representation of the string “LC_MONETARY”. We’re trying to reach 0x70 into a structure in %rax for a pointer value, but we’re getting a string instead.

It turns out that when libstdc++ is compiled on a glibc system, it will attempt to access the internal __ctype_* members in the locale_t of the current locale. musl’s locale_t is not ABI-compatible with glibc’s. In fact, it is only 48 bytes in length; 0x70 (or 112 bytes) is past the end of the locale object musl has provided it!

I implemented a stub locale module in gcompat, and… it tried to exec /proc/self/exe, which broke under the gcompat loader. This required me to write a patch interposing the execv* functions to catch this. And suddenly…

The lights that stop me turn to stone

Slight success! We have a Spotify window!

Spotify, but only a white screen

… but a blank white screen only. After some inspecting, I found that one of the many zygotes CEF was forking was segfaulting:

[158358.508029] ThreadPoolForeg[3230]: segfault at 0 ip 0000000000000000 sp 00007fe3203db448 error 14 in spotify[200000+1acd000]
[158365.067313] ThreadPoolForeg[3252]: segfault at 0 ip 0000000000000000 sp 00007f2d69c172e8 error 14 in spotify[200000+1acd000]
[158378.506832] ThreadPoolForeg[3312]: segfault at 0 ip 0000000000000000 sp 00007f52ed7c8448 error 14 in spotify[200000+1acd000]
[158383.654027] ThreadPoolForeg[3339]: segfault at 0 ip 0000000000000000 sp 00007fcb631eb2e8 error 14 in spotify[200000+1acd000]

I replaced from the Spotify DEB package with a matched-version from Spotify’s Open Source builds page. This allowed me to have more debugging symbols, and generating a core dump revealed:

Core was generated by ` --argv0 /usr/share/spotify/spotify --type=utility --field-'.
Program terminated with signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
#0  0x0000000000000000 in ?? ()
[Current thread is 1 (LWP 12774)]
(gdb) bt
#0  0x0000000000000000 in ?? ()
#1  0x00007f79a8a3d671 in sqlite3MallocSize () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:26957
#2  mallocWithAlarm () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:26891
#3  sqlite3Malloc () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:26913
#4  0x00007f79a8aff232 in sqlite3MallocZero () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:27118
#5  pthreadMutexAlloc () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:25755
#6  0x00007f79a8a4e9b2 in sqlite3MutexAlloc () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:25298
#7  chrome_sqlite3_initialize () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:24906
#8  0x00007f79a8a350bd in EnsureSqliteInitialized () at ../../sql/
#9  0x00007f79a8a30eb2 in OpenInternal () at ../../sql/
#10 0x00007f79a8a30dfa in Open () at ../../sql/
#11 0x00007f79a8fb8de6 in InitializeDatabase () at ../../net/extras/sqlite/
#12 0x00007f79a8fb9751 in LoadNelPoliciesAndNotifyInBackground () at ../../net/extras/sqlite/
#13 0x00007f79a5abe25b in Invoke<void (leveldb_proto::ProtoDatabaseSelector::*)(base::OnceCallback), scoped_refptr, base::OnceCallback > () at ../../base/bind_internal.h:498
#14 MakeItSo<void (leveldb_proto::ProtoDatabaseSelector::*)(base::OnceCallback), scoped_refptr, base::OnceCallback > ()
    at ../../base/bind_internal.h:598
#15 RunImpl<void (leveldb_proto::ProtoDatabaseSelector::*)(base::OnceCallback), std::__1::tuple<scoped_refptr, base::OnceCallback >, 0, 1> () at ../../base/bind_internal.h:671
#16 RunOnce () at ../../base/bind_internal.h:640
#17 0x00007f79a7776fa0 in Run () at ../../base/callback.h:98
#18 RunTask () at ../../base/task/common/
#19 0x00007f79a7792862 in base::internal::TaskTracker::RunBlockShutdown(base::internal::Task*) () at ../../base/task/thread_pool/
#20 0x00007f79a7792062 in RunTask () at ../../base/task/thread_pool/
#21 0x00007f79a77d42fb in RunTask () at ../../base/task/thread_pool/
#22 0x00007f79a7791a43 in RunAndPopNextTask () at ../../base/task/thread_pool/
#23 0x00007f79a7798386 in RunWorker () at ../../base/task/thread_pool/
#24 0x00007f79a77980f4 in base::internal::WorkerThread::RunPooledWorker() () at ../../base/task/thread_pool/
#25 0x00007f79a77d4a05 in ThreadFunc () at ../../base/threading/
#26 0x00007f79ac9fe2dd in ?? ()
#27 0x00007f79aca799e8 in ?? ()
#28 0x00007f7998247ce0 in ?? ()
#29 0x0000000000000000 in ?? ()
(gdb) frame 1
#1  0x00007f79a8a3d671 in sqlite3MallocSize () at ../../third_party/sqlite/amalgamation/sqlite3.c:26957
26957     return sqlite3GlobalConfig.m.xSize(p);

Inspecting the SQLite3 code, I realised that it was somehow getting a nullptr for the malloc_usable_size pointer. Further inspection revealed that this was not exactly the case:

(gdb) disassemble 0x7f79a77d5520
Dump of assembler code for function malloc_usable_size():
   0x00007f79a77d5520 :     push   %rbp
   0x00007f79a77d5521 :     mov    %rsp,%rbp
   0x00007f79a77d5524 :     mov    %rdi,%rsi
   0x00007f79a77d5527 :     mov    0x484a76a(%rip),%rdi        # 0x7f79ac01fc98 
   0x00007f79a77d552e :    mov    0x28(%rdi),%rax
   0x00007f79a77d5532 :    xor    %edx,%edx
   0x00007f79a77d5534 :    pop    %rbp
   0x00007f79a77d5535 :    jmpq   *%rax
End of assembler dump.

Looking at how the Chromium allocator works internally, the issue is that RTLD_NEXT won’t work on libraries loaded before libcef. And looking at the output of ldd spotify revealed both libm and libdl before libcef; musl always redirects these to libc for glibc ABI compatibility.

Using PatchELF to remove these two DT_NEEDEDs from the binary yielded a surprising result…

Music makes the people come together

Spotify on Adélie Linux
Spotify, playing “Rhinestone Eyes” by Gorillaz, on my Adélie laptop

It works! All the features I tested work: Spotify Connect, which means I can control the laptop’s playback using the iOS and Apple Watch apps; radio playback; Bluetooth speaker support.


You will need to download the official Spotify 64-bit DEB. I have not tested this on a 32-bit system yet, but I see no reason it won’t work. Once you have the DEB, extract the data.tar.xz file somewhere. Use PatchELF on the Spotify binary as so:

$ patchelf --remove-needed usr/share/spotify/spotify
$ patchelf --remove-needed usr/share/spotify/spotify

Move the extracted usr/share/spotify directory to your system’s /usr/share directory. For better integration, I moved the /usr/share/spotify/spotify.desktop file to /usr/share/applications. Then move the usr/bin/spotify link to /usr/bin.

Ensure that you have the latest gcompat installed. As I write this, only Adélie has the newest version in the current repo. I’ll be submitting merge requests to the distros I know that ship gcompat this week to ensure everyone has a chance to play around with the new bits.

Have fun!

Do you like running Spotify on musl? Or do you just like reading about fun hacks? Consider donating to Adélie to keep the fun going!

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