How to implement retrying a lock tidily in Python?

tinnews at tinnews at
Sun Oct 17 18:58:12 CEST 2010

I'm writing some code that writes to a mbox file and want to retry
locking the mbox file a few times before giving up.  I can't see a
really tidy way to implement this.

Currently I have something like:-

    dest = mailbox.mbox(mbName, factory=None)

    for tries in xrange(3):
            # Do some stuff to the mbox file
            break       # done what we need, carry on

        except mailbox.ExternalClashError:
            log("Destination locked, try " + str(tries))
            # and try again

... but this doesn't really work 'nicely' because the break after
dest.unlock() takes me to the same place as running out of the number
of tries in the for loop.  I need a way to handle the case where we
run out of tries (and *haven't* done what we needed to do) separately
from the case where it worked OK.

I can see all sorts of messy ways to handle this with a flag of some
sort but is there a proper elegant way of doing it?

Chris Green

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