[Python-Dev] Mysterious Python pyc file corruption problems

Brett Cannon brett at python.org
Wed May 15 23:34:02 CEST 2013

On Wed, May 15, 2013 at 4:58 PM, Barry Warsaw <barry at python.org> wrote:
> I am looking into a particularly vexing Python problem on Ubuntu that
> manifests in several different ways.  I think the problem is the same one
> described in http://bugs.python.org/issue13146 and I sent a message on the
> subject to the ubuntu-devel list:
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2013-May/037129.html
> I don't know what's causing the problem and have no way to reproduce it, but
> all the clues point to corrupt pyc files in Pythons < 3.3.
> The common way this manifests is a traceback on an import statement.  The
> actual error can be a "ValueError: bad marshal data (unknown type code)" such
> as in http://pad.lv/1010077 or an "EOFError: EOF read where not expected" as
> in http://pad.lv/1060842.  We have many more instances of both of these.
> Since both error messages come from marshal.c when trying to read the pyc for
> a module being imported, I suspect that something is causing the pyc files to
> get partially overwritten or corrupted.  The workaround is always to
> essentially blow away the .pyc file and re-create it.  (Various different
> techniques can be used, but they all boil down to the same thing.)
> Another commonality is that this bug -- so far -- has not been observed in any
> Python 3.3 code, only 3.2 and earlier, including 2.7 and 2.6.  This
> strengthens my hypothesis, since importlib in Python 3.3 included an atomic
> rename of the .pyc file whereas older Pythons only do an exclusive open on the
> pyc files, but do *not* do an atomic rename AFAICT.

Just an FYI, the renaming has caught at least one person off-guard:
http://bugs.python.org/issue17222, so you might have to be careful
about considering a backport.


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