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Source code analysis of spring-boot+Dubbo App start and stop

This article introduces the implementation details of app start and stop in dubbo-spring-boot-project.


Dubbo Spring Boot project is dedicated to simplifying the development of the Dubbo RPC framework in the Spring Boot application. It also integrates the feature of Spring Boot:

The analysis of DubboConsumer startup

Have you ever thought about this : since the DubboConsumerDemo application in dubbo-spring-boot-project has only one line of code, why not just exit directly when the main method is executed?

@SpringBootApplication(scanBasePackages = "")
public class DubboConsumerDemo {

    public static void main(String[] args) {,args);


In fact, to answer this question, we need to abstract it first, that is, under what circumstances will a JVM process exit?

Take Java 8 as an example. By referring to the JVM language specification[1], there is a clear description in Section 12.8:

A program terminates all its activity and exits when one of two things happens:

  • All the threads that are not daemon threads terminate.
  • Some thread invokes the exit method of class Runtime or class System, and the exit operation is not forbidden by the security manager.

Therefore, in view of the above situation, we judge that there must be some non-daemon thread not exiting. All thread information can be seen by jstack, including whether they are daemon threads, and jstack can be used to find out which threads are non-daemon.

➜  jstack 57785 | grep tid | grep -v "daemon"
"container-0" #37 prio=5 os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe312f5800 nid=0x7103 waiting on condition  [0x0000700010144000]
"container-1" #49 prio=5 os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe3117f800 nid=0x7b03 waiting on condition  [0x0000700010859000]
"DestroyJavaVM" #83 prio=5 os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30011000 nid=0x2703 waiting on condition  [0x0000000000000000]
"VM Thread" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe3005e800 nid=0x3703 runnable
"GC Thread#0" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30013800 nid=0x5403 runnable
"GC Thread#1" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30021000 nid=0x5303 runnable
"GC Thread#2" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30021800 nid=0x2d03 runnable
"GC Thread#3" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30022000 nid=0x2f03 runnable
"G1 Main Marker" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30040800 nid=0x5203 runnable
"G1 Conc#0" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe30041000 nid=0x4f03 runnable
"G1 Refine#0" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe31044800 nid=0x4e03 runnable
"G1 Refine#1" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe31045800 nid=0x4d03 runnable
"G1 Refine#2" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe31046000 nid=0x4c03 runnable
"G1 Refine#3" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe31047000 nid=0x4b03 runnable
"G1 Young RemSet Sampling" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe31047800 nid=0x3603 runnable
"VM Periodic Task Thread" os_prio=31 tid=0x00007fbe31129000 nid=0x6703 waiting on condition

We can find all the thread digests by grep tid here, and find the line that doesn’t contain the daemon keyword by grep -v command.

We can get some information from the above results:

  • There are two “suspicious” threads : container-0, container-1. They are non-daemon thread in wait state.
  • There are alse some threads about GC, and threads that start with VM. They are also some non-daemon threads, but they are most likely the JVM’s own threads, which we can ignore for now.

In summary, we can infer that it is likely that the container-0 and container-1 cause the JVM to not exit. Now let’s search through the source code to find out who created the two threads.

By the source code analysis of Spring-boot, we can find these code in the startDaemonAwaitThread method of org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat.TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer.

    private void startDaemonAwaitThread() {
        Thread awaitThread = new Thread("container-" + (containerCounter.get())) {

            public void run() {


Let’s add a breakpoint in this method, and focus on the call stack:

initialize:115, TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat)
<init>:84, TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat)
getTomcatEmbeddedServletContainer:554, TomcatEmbeddedServletContainerFactory (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat)
getEmbeddedServletContainer:179, TomcatEmbeddedServletContainerFactory (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat)
createEmbeddedServletContainer:164, EmbeddedWebApplicationContext (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded)
onRefresh:134, EmbeddedWebApplicationContext (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded)
refresh:537, AbstractApplicationContext (
refresh:122, EmbeddedWebApplicationContext (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded)
refresh:693, SpringApplication (org.springframework.boot)
refreshContext:360, SpringApplication (org.springframework.boot)
run:303, SpringApplication (org.springframework.boot)
run:1118, SpringApplication (org.springframework.boot)
run:1107, SpringApplication (org.springframework.boot)
main:35, DubboConsumerDemo (

It can be seen that during the startup process of the Spring-boot application, the above method is executed since the execution of Tomcat exposes the HTTP service by default. Also, all threads started by Tomcat are daemon threads by default, such as the Acceptor of the listening request, threads in working threads, etc. Thus the JVM will also exit after the startup is complete in there is no extra control here. Therefore, it is necessary to explicitly start a thread and continue to wait under certain conditions, thereby avoid thread exit.

Let’s dig deeper to find out how the thread stay alive in Tomcat’s this.tomcat.getServer().await() method.

public void await() {
        // ...
        if( port==-1 ) {
            try {
                awaitThread = Thread.currentThread();
                while(!stopAwait) {
                    try {
                        Thread.sleep( 10000 );
                    } catch( InterruptedException ex ) {
                        // continue and check the flag
            } finally {
                awaitThread = null;
        // ...

In the await method, the current thread checks the variable stopAwait every 10 seconds in a while loop. It is a volatile variable that is used to ensure that the current thread can see the change immediately after the variable being modified by another thread. If there is no change, it will stay in the loop. This is the reason why the thread does not exit, which is also the reason that the entire Spring-boot application doesn’t exit.

Since Spring-boot application enables port 8080 and 8081(management port) at the same time, there are actually two Tomcats. So there are two threads named container-0 and container-1.

Next, let’s see how this Spring-boot application exits.

The analysis of DubboConsumer exit

As mentioned in the previous description, there is a thread that checks the variable stopAwait continuously. So there must be a thread to modify stopAwait at Stop, thus break the while loop. But who is modifying this variable?

By analyzing the source code, we can see that there is only one method that modifies stopAwait : org.apache.catalina.core.StandardServer#stopAwait. To figure out who is calling this method, we add a breakpoint here.

Note that after adding a breakpoint in Intellij IDEA’s Debug mode, we also need to type kill -s INT $PID or kill -s TERM $PID in command line to trigger the breakpoint. Due to buggy IDEA, a single click to the stop button won’t trigger the breakpoint.

You can see the method is called by a thread called Thread-3:

stopAwait:390, StandardServer (org.apache.catalina.core)
stopInternal:819, StandardServer (org.apache.catalina.core)
stop:226, LifecycleBase (org.apache.catalina.util)
stop:377, Tomcat (org.apache.catalina.startup)
stopTomcat:241, TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat)
stop:295, TomcatEmbeddedServletContainer (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded.tomcat)
stopAndReleaseEmbeddedServletContainer:306, EmbeddedWebApplicationContext (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded)
onClose:155, EmbeddedWebApplicationContext (org.springframework.boot.context.embedded)
doClose:1014, AbstractApplicationContext (
run:929, AbstractApplicationContext$2 (

Through source code analysis, it was executed by Spring’s registered ShutdownHook.

    public void registerShutdownHook() {
        if (this.shutdownHook == null) {
            // No shutdown hook registered yet.
            this.shutdownHook = new Thread() {
                public void run() {
                    synchronized (startupShutdownMonitor) {

By reffering the Java API documentation[2], we found that ShutdownHook will be executed under the following two cases.

The Java virtual machine shuts down in response to two kinds of events:

  • The program exits normally, when the last non-daemon thread exits or when the exit (equivalently, System.exit) method is invoked, or
  • The virtual machine is terminated in response to a user interrupt, such as typing ^C, or a system-wide event, such as user logoff or system shutdown.
  1. So it’s either a call of System.exit()
  2. Respond to external signals, such as Ctrl+C(actually sent as SIGINT signal), or SIGTERM signal (kill $PID will send SIGTERM signal by default)

Therefore, the normal application will execute the above ShutdownHook during the stop process (except kill -9 $PID). Its function is not only to close the Tomcat, but also to perform other cleanup work. It is unnecessary to go into details.


  1. During the startup of DubboConsumer, an independent non-daemon thread is launched to query the status of the variable continuously, thus the process can’t exit.
  2. To stop the DubboConsumer, one should call ShutdownHook to change the variable to let the thread break the loop.


In the example of DubboProvider, we see that Provider doesn’t start Tomcat to provide HTTP service, then how does the program stays alive without exiting? We will answer this question in the next article.


By running the following unit test which create a thread in Intellij IDEA , we are surprised to find that the program exits with less than 1000s. Why?(The thread being created is a non-daemon thread)

    public void test() {
        new Thread(new Runnable() {
            public void run() {
                try {
                } catch (InterruptedException e) {