On Thu, Jul 16, 2009 at 1:08 PM, Thomas Wouters <thomas@python.org> wrote:

Picking up a rather old discussion... We encountered this bug at Google and I'm now "incentivized" to fix it.

For a short recap: Python has an import lock that prevents more than one thread from doing an import at any given time. However, unlike most of the locks we have lying around, we don't clear that lock in the child after an os.fork(). That means that doing an os.fork() during an import means the child process can't do any other imports. It also means that doing an os.fork() *while another thread is doing an import* means the child process can't do any other imports.

Since this three-year-old discussion we've added a couple of post-fork-cleanups to CPython (the TLS, the threading module's idea of active threads, see Modules/signalmodule.c:PyOS_AfterFork) and we already do simply discard the memory for other locks held during fork (the GIL, see Python/ceval.c:PyEval_ReInitThreads, and the TLS lock in Python/thread.c:PyThread_ReInitTLS) -- but not so with the import lock, except when the platform is AIX. I don't see any particular reason why we aren't doing the same thing to the import lock that we do to the other locks, on all platforms. It's a quick fix for a real problem (see http://bugs.python.org/issue1590864 and
http://bugs.python.org/issue1404925 for two bugreports that seem to be this very issue.)

+1.  We were also affected by this bug, getting sporatic deadlocks in a multi-threaded program that fork()s subprocesses to do processing.  It took a while to figure out what was going on.