[erlang-questions] EOF to external program

Matthias Lang matthias@REDACTED
Wed Nov 17 05:44:21 CET 2010


None of the people who know a definite answer have answered.

One likely reason for ports being the way they are is that whoever
first implemented them intended them for running external programs
specifically written to work with Erlang. I.e. the general case of
running Erlang-oblivious code wasn't considered, or was considered as
something to be done through a wrapper, or was thrown on the "worry
about that later" pile. And nobody since then has been both
sufficiently annoyed and sufficiently skilled to remove that

Using 'netcat' (my suggestion) is a pretty desperate workaround, i.e.
it works, but it's not pretty. 

A proper fix would be to give ports a similar interface to gen_tcp in
{active, false} mode, something like:

   {ok, Port} = os_process:open("wc /dev/zero", [binary, {active, false}]).
   {ok, Bin} =  os_process:recv(Port, 0).
   {ok, Last_bin, Exit_value} = os_process:close(Port).

it probably wouldn't hurt supporting {active, once} too.



On Friday, November 05, Timo Lindemann wrote:
> Hello erlangers,
> I like to use external programs, so I thought I could use ports a lot. I
> fail to understand one detail about ports: Why can one not close the write
> end (such that the connected external program registers an EOF on its stdin
> descriptor)?
> I dug around the web some, and found that this has stumped other people in
> the past, with suggestions about using netcat to work around that problem,
> to writing a wrapper that parses the data for some marker the process would
> send to the external program signalling EOF and have the wrapper close the
> write end.
> Why is there NO way in erlang to let a program know the input's data has
> ended *and* fetching its response *and* getting its (normal) exit status?
> port_close/1 will normally instantly kill the external program.
> Omitting this feature severely limits the things one can do with ports. awk
> will not process its END clause, wc will never exit, ... if there's no EOF
> to be found. There's a lot of programs waiting for stdin to close.
> So please, what's the reason for not allowing this? Will this be added
> sometime later on? Or have I just not found a way to do it?
> All the best
> -T.
> -- 
> Timo Lindemann
> Software Systems Engineer

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