[erlang-questions] Is ei_xreceive_msg() thread safe?

Serge Aleynikov <>
Tue Aug 27 18:43:02 CEST 2013


I think a cleaner/safer solution would be not to have multi-threaded code
calling ei functions. You can create a FIFO queue (pipe, or user-level
queue with eventfd() file descriptor) that the other threads would write to
in a thread-safe manner.  This queue would have an associated file
descriptor that could be added to the select set together with the file
descriptor returned by ei_xconnect_tmo(). This way you can poll for input
from the socket connected to an Erlang node and be awaken when some other
thread writes something to the output queue - all in the same ei-handling
thread and have all socket-related I/O serialized safely.


On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 11:27 AM, Peter Membrey <> wrote:

> Hi Serge,
>
> Thank you very much for clarifying this! At least I know where everything
> stands now.
>
> Does the scenario I'm talking about make sense? Could a heartbeat in the
> current design end up interleaved with other data? I suspect it would be
> pretty rare, but we pump 10 million or more messages through this app per
> day, so even if the chance was a million to one, we'd end up seeing it ten
> times a day on average...
>
> I'm thinking for now that I'll give Robert's suggestion a try. If I call
> ei_xreceive() with a timeout and wrap a mutex around it, would that then
> protect the socket? I'm assuming (probably a bad thing) that it doesn't
> reply in a different thread or something...
>
> I guess it would be a bit wasteful to effectively poll the socket every
> millisecond or so (I can't really block the other threads from writing
> longer than that) but it seems to be a potential way to resolve this issue
> in the short term while I come up with a better fix.
>
> Does that sound like a reasonable plan?
>
> Thanks again!
>
> Kind Regards,
>
> Peter Membrey
>
> ------------------------------
> *From: *"Serge Aleynikov" <>
> *To: *"Peter Membrey" <>
> *Cc: *"Erlang Questions" <>
> *Sent: *Tuesday, August 27, 2013 10:59:27 PM
> *Subject: *Re: [erlang-questions] Is ei_xreceive_msg() thread safe?
>
> e
> i_send/receive family of functions are not thread safe, and receive
> functions do handle heartbeats internally.  The way the
> ei_{connect,send,receive} functions are written it's not possible to do any
> non-blocking I/O with them or use them in multi-threaded code in the manner
> you described without modifying the functions.
>
> You can take a look at the alternative C++ library that doesn't have such
> limitations:
> https://github.com/saleyn/eixx
> , and offers almost all functionality that ei has.
>
> Regards,
>
> Serge
>
>
> On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 3:30 AM, Peter Membrey <> wrote:
>
>> Hi guys,
>>
>> I've got a fairly basic C Node set up where I have the main thread
>> running in a loop with ei_xreceive_msg() and a number of "callback" threads
>> that execute functions and write data using ei_send() to the shared socket
>> (connecting to the Erlang node).
>>
>> Originally I had a lot of data corruption (the Erlang node crashing due
>> to corrupt data) because of incorrect locking on socket writes. I added
>> mutexes to the ei_send() calls and this problem seemed to go away.
>>
>> However I've had a couple of occasions where the system has been quiet
>> and then suddenly become busy where corrupt data has still been sent to the
>> Erlang node. I'm positive all the places where I do ei_send() are
>> protected, but that got me wondering about ei_xreceive_msg().
>>
>> From what I can find, ei_xreceive_msg() automatically handles heartbeats
>> for you and I guess that means it will send some sort of reply on that
>> socket. If the heart beat is being sent at the same time as some other
>> process tries to write to the socket, is it possible that the two could get
>> interleaved or something? I would honestly have thought it unlikely but I'm
>> running out of ideas.
>>
>> Assuming it's possible, how could I add a mutex in this case? The call
>> itself blocks, so I can't wrap the whole call in the mutex else nothing
>> else will be able to send data, and there's no way to pass a mutex into the
>> call itself. So as far as I can tell, there's no way to protect these
>> writes and prevent them from getting mixed up with other writes on that
>> socket.
>>
>> Does anyone have any ideas? I'm quite willing to accept I could be doing
>> something pretty stupid, but I'm really out of ideas as to what that might
>> be...
>>
>> Thanks in advance!
>>
>> Kind Regards,
>>
>> Peter Membrey
>> _______________________________________________
>> erlang-questions mailing list
>> 
>> http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions
>>
>
>
>
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