[Python-Dev] Signals+Threads (PyGTK waking up 10x/sec).

Guido van Rossum guido at python.org
Sun Dec 9 00:28:03 CET 2007

On Dec 8, 2007 2:36 PM, Adam Olsen <rhamph at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Dec 8, 2007 2:56 PM,  <glyph at divmod.com> wrote:
> > On 05:20 pm, guido at python.org wrote:
> > >The best solution I can think of is to add a new API that takes a
> > >signal and a file descriptor and registers a C-level handler for that
> > >signal which writes a byte to the file descriptor. You can then create
> > >a pipe, connect the signal handler to the write end, and add the read
> > >end to your list of file descriptors passed to select() or poll(). The
> > >handler must be written in C in order to avoid the race condition
> > >referred to by Glyph (signals arriving after the signal check in the
> > >VM main loop but before the select()/poll() system call is entered
> > >will not be noticed until the select()/poll() call completes).
> >
> > This paragraph jogged my memory.  I remember this exact solution being
> > discussed now, a year ago when I was last talking about these issues.
> >
> > There's another benefit to implementing a write-a-byte C signal handler.
> > Without this feature, it wouldn't make sense to have passed the
> > SA_RESTART flag to sigaction, because and GUIs written in Python could
> > have spent an indefinite amount of time waiting to deliver their signal
> > to Python code.  So, if you had to handle SIGCHLD in Python, for
> > example, calls like file().write() would suddenly start raising a new
> > exception (EINTR).  With it, you could avoid a whole class of subtle
> > error-handling code in Twisted programs.
> SA_RESTART still isn't useful.  The low-level poll call (not write!)
> must stop and call back into python.  If that doesn't indicate an
> error you can safely restart your poll call though, and follow it with
> a (probably non-blocking) write.

Can't say I understand all of this, but it does reiterate that there
are more problems with signals than just the issue that Gustavo is
trying to squash. The possibility of having *any* I/O interrupted is
indeed a big worry. Though perhaps this could be alleviated by rigging
things so that signals get delivered (at the C level) to the main
thread and the rest of the code runs in a non-main thread?

> Note that the only reason to use C for a low-level handler here is
> give access to sigatomic_t and avoid needing locks.  If you ran the
> signal handler in a background thread (using sigwait to trigger them)
> you could use a python handler.

I haven't seen Gustavo's patch yet, but *my* reason for using a C
handler was different -- it was because writing a byte to a pipe in
Python would do nothing to fix Gustavo's issue.

Looking at the man page for sigwait()  it could be an alternative
solution, but I'm not sure how it would actually allow PyGTK to catch

--Guido van Rossum (home page: http://www.python.org/~guido/)

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