Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Writing signal-aware waitpid in Perl

As I have talked in YAPC::Asia couple of years ago, the wait functions (e.g. wait, waitpid) of Perl do not return EINTR when receiving a signal.

This is a problem if you would want to wait for child processes until receiving a signal. Proc::Wait3 can be a solution, however the module may be hard to install as it is an XS module. It should also be noted that the module provides replacement for wait only; no workaround exists for waitpid.

So today I have scrubbed my head wondering if I could come up with a pure-perl solution, and, here it is. The Perl script below launches a worker process (that just sleeps), and waits for the process to complete, or until SIGTERM is being received.

use strict;
use warnings;
use Errno ();

our $got_sigterm = 0;
our $sighandler_should_die = 0;

# fork a child process that does the task
my $child_pid = fork;
die "fork failed:$!"
    unless defined $child_pid;
if ($child_pid == 0) {
    # in child process, do something...
    sleep 100;
    exit 0;

$SIG{TERM} = sub {
    $got_sigterm = 1;
    die "dying to exit from waitpid"
        if $sighandler_should_die;

warn "master process:$$, child process:$child_pid";

# parent process, wait for child exit or SIGTERM
while (! $got_sigterm) {
    if (my_waitpid($child_pid, 0) == $child_pid) {
        # exit the loop if child died
        warn "child process exitted";
        $child_pid = -1;

if ($child_pid != -1) {
    warn "got SIGTERM, stopping the child";
    kill 'TERM', $child_pid;
    while (waitpid($child_pid, 0) != $child_pid) {

sub my_waitpid {
    my @args = @_;
    local $@;
    my $ret = eval {
        local $sighandler_should_die = 1;
        die "exit from eval"
            if $got_sigterm;
        waitpid($args[0], $args[1]);
    if ($@) {
        $ret = -1;
        $! = Errno::EINTR;
    return $ret;

The trick is that waitpid is surrounded by a eval within the my_waitpid function, and the signal handler calls die to exit the eval if the $sighandler_should_die flag is being set. It is also essential to check the $got_sigterm flag within the eval block after setting the $sighandler_should_die flag, since otherwise there would be a race condition.

By using these tricks it has now become possible to implement process managers in pure-perl!


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