Python subprocesses experience mysterious delay in receiving stdin EOF

Yang Zhang yanghatespam at
Tue Feb 8 20:59:18 EST 2011

I reduced a problem I was seeing in my application down into the
following test case. In this code, a parent process concurrently
spawns 2 (you can spawn more) subprocesses that read a big message
from the parent over stdin, sleep for 5 seconds, and write something
back. However, there's unexpected waiting happening somewhere, causing
the code to complete in 10 seconds instead of the expected 5.

If you set `verbose=True`, you can see that the straggling subprocess
is receiving most of the messages, then waiting for the last chunk of
3 chars---it's not detecting that the pipe has been closed.
Furthermore, if I simply don't do anything with the second process
(`doreturn=True`), the first process will *never* see the EOF.

Any ideas what's happening? Further down is some example output.
Thanks in advance.

    from subprocess import *
    from threading import *
    from time import *
    from traceback import *
    import sys
    verbose = False
    doreturn = False
    msg = (20*4096+3)*'a'
    def elapsed(): return '%7.3f' % (time() - start)
    if sys.argv[1:]:
      start = float(sys.argv[2])
      if verbose:
        for chunk in iter(lambda:, ''):
          print >> sys.stderr, '..', time(), sys.argv[1], 'read', len(chunk)
      print >> sys.stderr, elapsed(), '..', sys.argv[1], 'done reading'
      print msg
      start = time()
      def go(i):
        print elapsed(), i, 'starting'
        p = Popen(['python','',str(i), str(start)],
stdin=PIPE, stdout=PIPE)
        if doreturn and i == 1: return
        print elapsed(), i, 'writing'
        print elapsed(), i, 'closing'
        print elapsed(), i, 'reading'
        print elapsed(), i, 'done'
      ts = [Thread(target=go, args=(i,)) for i in xrange(2)]
      for t in ts: t.start()
      for t in ts: t.join()

Example output:

      0.001 0 starting
      0.003 1 starting
      0.005 0 writing
      0.016 1 writing
      0.093 0 closing
      0.093 0 reading
      0.094 1 closing
      0.094 1 reading
      0.098 .. 1 done reading
      5.103 1 done
      5.108 .. 0 done reading
     10.113 0 done

Yang Zhang

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