[Python-Dev] windows file closing race condition?

Tim Golden mail at timgolden.me.uk
Fri Sep 6 09:58:06 CEST 2013

On 06/09/2013 08:14, Nick Coghlan wrote:
> On 6 September 2013 15:50, Chris Withers <chris at simplistix.co.uk> wrote:
>> Continuous testing is a wonderful thing when it comes to finding weird edge
>> case problems, like this one:

[... snip ...]
>>     os.rmdir(path)
>> OSError: [WinError 145] The directory is not empty:
>> 'c:\\users\\jenkins\\appdata\\local\\temp\\tmpkeg4d7\\a'

> This feels a lot like an issue we were seeing on the Windows
> buildbots, which we ended up working around in the test support
> library: http://bugs.python.org/issue15496
> That would be some awfully ugly code to upgrade from "hack in the test
> support library" to "this is just how Python unlinks files on
> Windows", though :P

I think that any kind of delay-retry loop falls squarely within the
remit of the calling application, not core Python. This isn't a problem
of Python's making: IIUC, you would see the same effect if you used any
language or simply deleted the folder from within Explorer. (I don't
know whether Explorer itself does anything canny under the covers to retry).

Obviously our test suite *is* a calling application, and so it makes
perfect sense to put some workaround in place.

The trouble with this class of problem, where a share-delete handle
allows operations to succeed and to fail later which would normally fail
early, is that the bad effect is at one remove from its cause. Here, by
the time the rmtree has reached the point of removing a parent
directory, it's long-since left behind the file which has a still-open
handle: the DeleteFile succeeded and the code moved on. You can't even
tell which file it was.

A related problem arises where the DeleteFile succeeds and an error
occurs when a subsequent CreateFile fails for the same filepath, again
because a share-delete handle is still open for a file at that path.
This is another one which hits our test suite because of an overuse of
one temp filename.

What should Python do? With some effort it could look for open file
handles against the file it's trying to delete, but what then? Wait
until they're all closed? That could leave it hanging. And even with a
timeout it would introduce a delay which might be unnecessary. A lot of
the time, no harm will come of the file existing a few seconds after the
DeleteFile has succeeded.

In short, I don't believe there's any mileage in introducing extra code
into Python's os or io modules. It falls on the shoulders of the calling
code to implement retry loops or whatever logic as needed.


More information about the Python-Dev mailing list