Title: Doc: subprocess should warn uses on race conditions when multiple threads spawn child processes
Type: behavior Stage:
Components: Documentation Versions: Python 2.7
Status: open Resolution:
Dependencies: Superseder:
Assigned To: docs@python Nosy List: docs@python, neologix, owenlin, sbt, vstinner
Priority: normal Keywords:

Created on 2013-11-27 09:30 by owenlin, last changed 2013-11-27 10:18 by vstinner.

File name Uploaded Description Edit owenlin, 2013-11-27 09:30
Messages (2)
msg204568 - (view) Author: Owen Lin (owenlin) Date: 2013-11-27 09:30
If we call two subprocess.Popen simultaneously, the second one is blocked until the first one is finished. 

The attached file is a code snippet to reproduce this bug. I can reproduce the bug in version 2.7.3 and 2.7.6 very easily (in few seconds with the code). But it works fine on python3. 

Here is the backtrace of python
#0  0x00007f0eba954d2d in read () at ../sysdeps/unix/syscall-template.S:82#1  0x00000000005d8d10 in posix_read (self=0x0, args=(5, 1048576)) at ../Modules/posixmodule.c:6628#2  0x0000000000486896 in PyCFunction_Call (func=<built-in function read>, arg=(5, 1048576), kw=0x0)    at ../Objects/methodobject.c:81#3  0x00000000005278e4 in ext_do_call (func=<built-in function read>, pp_stack=0x7fff1fc0ac80, flags=1, na=0, nk=0)    at ../Python/ceval.c:4331
#4  0x00000000005215cd in PyEval_EvalFrameEx (
    f=Frame 0x298f800, for file /usr/lib/python2.7/, line 478, in _eintr_retry_call (func=<built-in funct
ion read>, args=(5, 1048576)), throwflag=0) at ../Python/ceval.c:2705
#5  0x0000000000523c2e in PyEval_EvalCodeEx (co=0x294b880,     globals={'STDOUT': -2, '_has_poll': True, 'gc': <module at remote 0x29672d0>, 'check_call': <function at remote 0x29c4450>, 'mswindows': False, 'select': <module at remote 0x29676e0>, 'list2cmdline': <function at remote 0x29c45a0>, '__all__': ['Popen', 'PIPE', 'STDOUT', 'call', 'check_call', 'check_output', 'CalledProcessError'], 'errno': <module at remote 0x272d4d8>, '_demo_posix': <function at remote 0x29c4648>, '__package__': None, 'PIPE': -1, '_cleanup': <func

The fd 5 is actually a pipe. But I cannot find the other end of the pipe. A workaround is using lock around all the Popen()s.
msg204570 - (view) Author: STINNER Victor (vstinner) * (Python committer) Date: 2013-11-27 10:18
The creation of slave_popen is not protected by a lock, and so dummy_thread() may spawn a new process (master) at the same time than the main process (slave). If it occurs at the same time, the master may inherit a pipe of the slave process used internally by the subprocess module to send the exception to the parent process if a Python exception occurs in the child process.

The inheritance of pipes has been partially fixed in Python 3.2 with the new function _posixsubprocess.cloexec_pipe() which uses pipe2() function to atomically create a pipe with the O_CLOEXEC flag set.

The problem has been fixed complelty in Python 3.4 with the PEP 446: all files are now created non inheritable by default, and atomic functions to set the "non inheritable" flag are used when available.

You posted a Python 2.7 script, so I suppose that you are stuck at Python 2. In this case, you can workaround the issue by using a lock around the creation of any subprocess. To fix your example, just surround slave_popen creation with "with lock: ..." or lock.acquire()/lock.release(), as you did for master_popen.

I propose to convert this issue to a documentation issue: we should add a warning explaining that spawning processes in more than one thread can lead to such race condition and hang one or more threads. And suggest to use a lock to workaround such issue.

See also the atfork proposition which includes such lock:


Your script has other issues:

- you should pass a file open in write mode for stdout/stderr
- you should close open(os.devnull) files, or open them outside the loop
- you should join the thread, or use a daemon thread. If you don't join threads, you will quickly read the limit of the number of threads
- you can use shell=True to avoid spawning two process to run sleep (or simply use time.sleep :-))
- you need a synchronization between the two threads to ensure that master_popen is created before trying to kill it
Date User Action Args
2013-11-27 10:18:41vstinnersetassignee: docs@python

nosy: + docs@python
components: + Documentation
title: Python get stuck in second Popen call -> Doc: subprocess should warn uses on race conditions when multiple threads spawn child processes
2013-11-27 10:18:06vstinnersetnosy: + vstinner, neologix, sbt
messages: + msg204570
2013-11-27 09:30:46owenlincreate