how can a child thread notify a parent thread its status?

MRAB python at
Sun Jul 26 03:30:00 CEST 2009

scriptlearner at wrote:
> I decided to go with one big log file, which will be shared by all
> threads (child and parent).  A log message Queue is used to store all
> log entries, and a customized logger thread will get log entries from
> the Queue.
> #from the logger thread#
>     def run(self):
>         while self.flag == 1: #if the flag is set to 0, the logger
> thread should exit
>             try:
>                  entry = self.q.get()
>             except Empty:
>                  self.logger.debug('cant find any log entry')
>                  continue
>             except:
>                  self.logger.error("Unexpected error:", sys.exc_info()
> [0])
>                  raise
>             #do whatever that should be done
>"logger thread done") #should see this
> message in log file as well
>     def off(self):
>'turning off flag')
>         self.flag = 0
> #in parent thread#
>         logItemQ.put('We are done, lets stop the logger now.')
>         time.sleep(1) #it seems that the logger thread cannot exit if
> I put a sleep here
> #off is called successfully
>         myLog.join()
> I put an off method to turn off a flag so the logger thread knows it
> should exit.  However, the last log message (the one 'We are done,
> lets stop the logger now.') won't be logged if I call and
> myLog.join() immediately.  So, I put a time.sleep(1) to make sure the
> logger thread has enough time to finish it's job.  Unfortunately, now
> the logger thread simply won't exit, and I don't see the message
> 'logger thread done'.  I can't figure out at which point it hangs,
> since I don't any new log entry but the thread simply won't exit.
> Am I taking a right approach by using a flag?  Should I lock the flag?

self.q.get() will block if the queue is empty, so the Empty exception is
never raised.

What's happening is that the parent thread puts the final message into
the queue, sleeps, and then clears the flag; meanwhile, the logging
thread gets the message, writes it out, checks the flag, which is still
set, and then tries to get the next message. The queue is empty, so the
.get() blocks.

The simplest solution is not to use a flag, but the sentinel trick. The
parent thread can put, say, None into the queue after the last message;
when the logging thread gets None, it knows it should terminate.

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