Sunday, October 5, 2008

Perl Semaphores 'n stuff

This is a pretty good and gentle introduction into file locking and using semaphores in Perl:

I was having the exact problems being described:

Unfortunately, this means trouble for our flock-using code. Notably, there can still be a problem with instances being out of phase — since we can’t lock a file without already having opened it, things can still happen in that brief moment between opening the file and locking it. Consider when one instance is updating counter.dat just as another new instance is about to read it:

Instance 1                         Instance 2
----------------- -----------------
open COUNTER, ">counter.dat"
or die "Can't write-open: $!";
open COUNTER, "<counter.dat"
or die "Can't read-open: $!";
my $hits = <COUNTER>;


There, the OS dutifully kept two instances at once from having an exclusive lock on the file. But the locking is too late, because instance 1, just by opening the file, has already overwritten counter.dat with a zero-length file, just as instance 2 was about to read it. So we’re back to the same problem that existed before we had any flock calls at all: two processes accessing a file that we wish only one process at a time could access.

In a very very complex part of my app, that has to do with basically managing a queueing system - something that really really really should be written using a transaction capable SQL backend. If only I knew how to do that.

I combined the semaphore file with the, Highlander, THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! Idea:

So if I can't get a lock, I can wait a little longer. I thought, "Hey, sounds like a good idea". It also sorta kinda puts a queueing system to the resources that a lot of different thingies want to hit, and hopefully, stop the programming from giving back errors like, all the fucking time. We'll see.

All the tests pass (you do write tests, right?), but using the app doesn't really... um, work. It's timing out. Most likely from the Highlander idea. More whackin' to do...

1 comment:

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