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bug#14752: [PATCH] sort: print warning when fork() failed for --compress

From: Pádraig Brady
Subject: bug#14752: [PATCH] sort: print warning when fork() failed for --compress-program
Date: Tue, 2 Feb 2016 21:17:43 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:38.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/38.3.0

unarchive 14752

On 28/05/14 08:15, Pádraig Brady wrote:
> On 05/26/2014 10:10 PM, Pádraig Brady wrote:
>> On 05/26/2014 10:00 PM, Azat Khuzhin wrote:
>>>> So the issue here is that sort is allocating
>>>> a large buffer up front thus impacting the fork().
>>>> Really sort(1) should be trying to avoid this issue
>>>> in the first place, and the issue is already logged at:
>>>> http://bugs.gnu.org/14752
>>> Yes this is the same as I linked above.
>>> Does any body have a patch for this, or should I start working on this?
>> I was waiting for a patch that didn't materialize.
>> I'll have a look myself now.
> So I had a look and the change while definitely worth doing
> is a bit invasive and so probably not appropriate for the impending release,
> as that's focusing on bug fixes rather than performance characteristics.
> Some implementation notes for reference...
> vfork() is portable only when one essentially just does an
> execve() right after the vfork(). Therefore just for fire and forget 
> processes.
> Anything where you need to interact with the sub process like setting up files
> to communicate etc. is going to have portability issues. Even using execvp()
> is problematic I understand.  Also sort is multithreaded which might further
> complicate things.
> Leveraging posix_spawn() is promising, as the main reason for that
> interface is to provide an efficient fork()+exec() mechanism.
> That can be implemented using vfork() or with clone() on Linux.
> The implementation in glibc is only a token one however as it
> just uses fork()+exec() usually. One can override with the
> POSIX_SPAWN_USEVFORK flag, but there are many non obvious
> implementation gotchas with doing that.  Again being multithreaded
> may complicate things here.  Note the musl, freebsd, osx and solaris
> posix_spawn() implementations are efficient, which would be
> another reason to use this assuming the glibc/gnulib implementation
> is fixed up.

Progress on the glibc posix_spawn() front:

> Another option would be for sort(1) to start up a helper child process,
> before we allocate much memory. Then we could communicate descriptors
> back and forth to that, and it could deal with forking the children.
> That would be portable too, but a little involved. Ideally we could
> keep the complication within posix_spawn() instead.
> Note this is a general issue not just related to sort(1).
> Many servers for example whether written in java/python/ruby or whatever
> have this issue when they use lots of memory and would like to
> popen() something. So fixing up the glibc posix_spawn() implementation
> would be very useful so that popen() etc. within glibc and the
> various language runtimes could leverage.
> Some links for reference:
> http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/solaris10/subprocess-136439.html
> https://sourceware.org/ml/libc-help/2010-10/msg00001.html
> https://sourceware.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=10354
> https://sourceware.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=378
> http://git.musl-libc.org/cgit/musl/tree/src/process/posix_spawn.c
> http://ewontfix.com/7/
> http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2731531/faster-forking-of-large-processes-on-linux
> http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8152076/spawn-process-from-multithreaded-application
> https://github.com/rtomayko/posix-spawn/blob/master/ext/posix-spawn.c
> http://blog.famzah.net/2009/11/20/a-much-faster-popen-and-system-implementation-for-linux/
> http://code.google.com/p/popen-noshell/source/browse/trunk/popen_noshell.c

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