Semaphore or what should I use?

Jeremy Jones zanesdad at
Wed Dec 1 15:00:27 CET 2004

Bastian Hammer wrote:

>I´m wondering why there are so few examples with Semaphore.
>Is it obsolete?
>I´ve got a Class Data.
>It offers 2 Threads methods for updating, editing, .. a private
>Now I have to make sure, that both threads are synchronal, 
>1 thread edits something and the other is blocked until the first
>thread is ready.
>Isn´t it a good idea to do this with a semaphore?
>And if I should use a Semaphore here, could anybody give me an example
>how it should look like?
>Everything that I test throws errors :(
>Thank you :)
>Bye, Bastian
Sure, you can use a Semaphore.  But it sounds like you are really 
wanting an exclusive lock.  Semaphore can do that for you - actually 
it's the default behavior.  You could try using a regular old Lock.  
Semaphores are locking counters.  You set the counter at initialization 
to some number (the default is 1).  When you enter into a  semaphored 
area of code (using the .acquire() method), the counter attempts to 
decrement and will do so if it doesn't push it beneath 0.  Upon exiting 
the area of semaphored code (by calling the .release() method on the 
semaphore), the counter is incremented.  An example would look like this:

import threading
class locking_writer:
    def __init__(self, some_file):
        self.sema = threading.Semaphore()
        self.f = open(some_file, 'w')
    def write(self, content):

and used like this:

In [16]: l = locking_writer('/tmp/foo')

In [17]: l.write('test')

I haven't tested this with multiple threads, so I'll leave that up to 
you if you want to use it.

Now, with all that said, the preferred way of synchronizing between 
threads is to use a Queue (import Queue\nq = Queue.Queue()).  If you 
have a file that more than one thread needs to update, you probably want 
to create a thread just to update that file and have the threads 
responsible for getting information to update it with pass that 
information into a queue.  You may have reasons for not wanting to do 
that, but it's worth looking into and considering.

Jeremy Jones

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