basic thread question

Dave Angel davea at
Mon Aug 24 11:23:24 CEST 2009

Dennis Lee Bieber wrote:
> On Sun, 23 Aug 2009 22:14:17 -0700, John Nagle <nagle at>
> declaimed the following in gmane.comp.python.general:
>>      Multiple Python processes can run concurrently, but each process
>> has a copy of the entire Python system, so the memory and cache footprints are
>> far larger than for multiple threads.
> 	One would think a smart enough OS would be able to share the
> executable (interpreter) code, and only create a new stack/heap
> allocation for data.
That's what fork is all about.  (See os.fork(), available on most 
Unix/Linux)  The two processes start out sharing their state, and only 
the things subsequently written need separate swap space.

In Windows (and probably Unix/Linux), the swapspace taken by the 
executable and DLLs(shared libraries) is minimal.  Each DLL may have a 
"preferred location" and if that part of the address space is available, 
it takes no swapspace at all, except for static variables, which are 
usually allocated together.  I don't know whether the standard build of 
CPython (python.exe and the pyo libraries) uses such a linker option, 
but I'd bet they do.  It also speeds startup time.

On my system, a minimal python program uses about 50k of swapspace.  But 
I'm sure that goes way up with lots of imports.


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