SelectableChannels and Process API

Peter Levart peter.levart at
Wed Apr 15 19:31:18 UTC 2015

On 04/15/2015 07:59 PM, Martin Buchholz wrote:
> I was at least partly responsible for the pipe buffer cleanup code.
> Subprocess terminates, but may have written some data to the pipe 
> buffer (typically 4k on Linux).  Usually the pipe buffer is empty, but 
> in case it's not, you don't want to lose the straggler data, you want 
> to drain it and close the file descriptor, because it's easier to 
> manage the memory than the fd.  Messy, but I didn't see a better way.

But the data would stay there (in the pipe's buffer) until it is read by 
the user. The producing end of pipe may already be closed, but the 
consuming end is still open. You would just have to keep the file 
descriptor open and let user drain and close it (or leave it to 
FileInputStream finalizer to close it). Yes, a file descriptor will be 
potentially open some more time, but you wouldn't loose any data. That's 
how Windows implementation works, I think. There's not reaper thread in 
Windows that would trigger asynchronous actions when subprocess exits.

Regards, Peter

> On Tue, Apr 14, 2015 at 11:31 PM, Peter Levart <peter.levart at 
> <mailto:peter.levart at>> wrote:
>     Hi Roger,
>     So I started new thread...
>     On 04/14/2015 11:33 PM, Roger Riggs wrote:
>         On 4/14/2015 11:47 AM, Peter Levart wrote:
>             I have been thinking of another small Process API update.
>             Some people find it odd how redirected in/out/err streams
>             are exposed:
>         yep, I've read that several times.
>     To be fair, it's mostly, but not entirely correct. The part that says:
>     " So when the child process exits, the any data waiting to be read
>     from its output stream is drained into a buffer. All of it. In memory.
>     Did you launch a process that writes a gigabyte of data to its
>     output stream and then terminates? Well, friend, I sure hope you
>     have a gigabyte of memory, because the JDK is going to read that
>     sucker in and there's nothing you can do about it. And let's hope
>     there's not more than 2GB of data, since this code basically just
>     grows a byte[], which in Java can only grow to 2GB. If there's
>     more than 2GB of data on that stream, this logic errors out and
>     the data is lost forever."
> exaggeration. This does not happen as the pipe has a bounded
>     buffer. When subprocess exits, there is at most that much data
>     left in the buffer (64k typically) and only that much is sucked
>     into the Java process and the underlying handle closed.
>             They basically don't like:
>             - that exposed Input/Output streams are buffered
>             - that underlying streams are File(Input/Output)Streams
>             which, although the backing OS implementation are not
>             files but pipes, don't expose selectable channels so that
>             non-blocking event-based IO could be performed on them.
>             - that exposed IO streams are automatically "managed" in
>             UNIX variants of ProcessImpl which needs subtle "hacks" to
>             do it in a perceptively transparent way (delayed close,
>             draining input on exit and making it available after the
>             underlying handle is already closed, ...)
>             So I've been playing with the idea of exposing the "real"
>             pipe channels in last couple of days. Here's the prototype
>             I came up with:
>             <>
>             This adds new Redirect type to the API and 3 new methods
>             to Process that return Pipe channels when this new
>             Redirect type is used. It's interesting that no native
>             code changes were necessary. The behavior of pipes on
>             Windows is a little different (perhaps because the Pipe
>             NIO API uses sockets under the hood on Windows - why is
>             that? Windows does have a pipe equivalent). What bothers
>             me is that file handles opened on files (when redirecting
>             to/from File) can be closed as soon as the subprocess is
>             started and the subprocess is still able to read/write
>             from the files (like with UNIX). It's not the same with
>             pipe (i.e. socket) handles on Windows. They must be closed
>             only after subprocess exits.
>             If this subtle difference between file handles and socket
>             handles on Windows could be dealt with (perhaps some
>             options exist that affect subprocess spawning), then the
>             extra waiting thread would not be needed on Windows.
>             So what do you think of this API update?
>         Definitely worthy of a separate thread.  It looks promising
>         and addresses some of the issues
>         raised, while moving other problems from the implementation to
>         the application.
>         Such as closing of the channels and cleanup.  I worry about
>         how the resources are freed
>         if the code spawning the app doesn't do the cleanup.  Will it
>         require hooks (like a finalizer)
>         to do the cleanup?
>         Also, it doesn't help with Martin's goal of being able to
>         implement
>         emacs in Java since it doesn't provide pty control.
>         As you are aware the complexity in Process is to ensure a
>         timely cleanup and
>         allowing the Process to terminate and release the process
>         resources
>         when it was done and not having to wait for the stdout/stderr
>         consumer.
>     I wonder how this automatic stream cleanup really helps in
>     real-world programs. It doesn't help the Process to terminate and
>     release the process resources any sooner as the process terminates
>     on it's own (unless killed) and OS releases it's resources without
>     the outside help anyway. Draining and closing the stream after the
>     process has already exited just releases one file handle (the
>     consuming side of the pipe) in a promptly manner. This could be
>     left to the user and/or finalizer. Draining after the process has
>     already exited does not help the process to exit any sooner as it
>     happens after the fact. A program that doesn't consume the stream
>     can cause the process to hang forever as the pipe's buffer is
>     bounded (64k typically). So draining and closing after the process
>     has exited only potentially helps for the last 64k of the stream
>     and only to release one file handle in a potentially more timely
>     manner.
>     OTOH now that ProcessImpl for UNIX does that (and why does Windows
>     implementation not do that?) sloppy programs might exist that
>     would potentially break if the status quo is not maintained.
>     But new functionality need not be so permissive. I'll take a look
>     at how and if Channel(s) do any kind of automatic cleanup based on
>     reachability and whether this can be bolted on for Process use. I
>     doubt it is possible to drain and close a Channel without
>     disturbing the ongoing Selector IO processing...
>     Regards, Peter
>         Thanks, Roger

More information about the core-libs-dev mailing list