----- Original Message -----
I would like to confirm that there is no user of the Python "COUNT_ALLOCS" special build, because I plan to remove it from Python 3.9. If you use it, please raise your hand and explain why other debug tools don't fit your specific use case.
I'm always annoyed by "#ifdef COUNT_ALLOCS" code which is common in code related to reference counting (object.h, object.c, typeobject.c). It makes the code harder to read and harder to maintain. It's a 27 years old feature which always required to rebuild Python with COUNT_ALLOCS macro defined. In clear, you have to know about the feature and build your own Python binary to use it.
COUNT_ALLOCS was used for 6 years (2010-2015) in the debug build of Python of the Fedora package. Sadly, C extensions provided by Fedora are only built in release mode, and so cannot be used by the debug build. python2.7-debug requires to rebuild all C extensions in debug mode. IMHO nobody ever used python2.7-debug to debug real applications.
The feature was added to Fedora debug build by Dave Malcolm in 2010 to help him to debug memory leaks. Later, he wrote: "I don't think this patch ever really bought us much, and it sounds like there are better tools for this now, so feel free to drop the COUNT_ALLOC patches." So the feature was dropped from Python 3 package in 2015.
I never ever used this feature. I consider that there are now way better tools to debug memory leaks in Python 3, like tracemalloc and multiple tools based on gc.get_objects().
I failed to find any user of COUNT_ALLOCS on the Internet. I'm quite sure that many core developers never heard about this special build.
34 files changed, 24 insertions(+), 470 deletions(-)
Do you see any reason to keep COUNT_ALLOCS in Python 3.9? If yes, please elaborate :-)
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death.
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I've never used this feature and it was quite the hassle to maintain those patches downstream, so in my biased opinion, I would welcome the removal.
Charalampos Stratakis Software Engineer Python Maintenance Team, Red Hat