[erlang-questions] Ports and piping output between them

Nathan Fiedler <>
Mon Jul 18 01:59:43 CEST 2016


Thanks for that explanation, Lukas, that definitely makes sense. I've gone
with generating a simple shell script that invokes tar and pipes it to
split.

n

On Sun, Jul 17, 2016 at 12:44 AM, Lukas Larsson <> wrote:

> Hello,
>
> There is no back-pressure mechanism for open_port, so when you call it on
> "cat /dev/random" you will get an endless stream of data into the process'
> message queue which Erlang most likely cannot keep up with and that makes
> the memory grow until it explodes. In order to get back-pressure you have
> to put something in between "cat /dev/random" and the erlang port which you
> processes can talk to and request more bytes instead of it just sending as
> much as it can. A small bash script which sends X bytes for every Y bytes
> it receives could do the trick.
>
> Lukas
>
> On Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 7:13 PM, Nathan Fiedler <>
> wrote:
>
>> My ultimate goal is to run two external processes, with the output of one
>> feeding into the input of the other, a la shell piping. So something like
>> `zfs send | zfs recv` or `tar | split`, but from within my Erlang
>> application. Below is my simple example that fairly quickly balloons memory
>> out of control and eventually explodes (i.e. the OS kills it).
>>
>> #!/usr/bin/env escript
>> %%!
>>
>> main(_Args) ->
>>     SendCmd = "cat /dev/random",
>>     %
>>     % not using 'binary' with open_port makes memory size grow really
>> fast,
>>     % but that's fine, I want that option anyway, just pointing it out
>>     %
>>     SendPort = erlang:open_port({spawn, SendCmd}, [exit_status, binary]),
>>     RecvCmd = "strings",
>>     RecvPort = erlang:open_port({spawn, RecvCmd}, [exit_status, binary]),
>>     {ok, 0} = pipe_until_exit(SendPort, RecvPort, 0),
>>     ensure_port_closed(SendPort),
>>     ensure_port_closed(RecvPort),
>>     ok.
>>
>> pipe_until_exit(SendPort, RecvPort, N) ->
>>     %
>>     % invoking garbage_collect/0 helps a little bit, but memory still
>> grows
>>     %
>>     io:format("iteration ~w~n", [N]),
>>     receive
>>         {SendPort, {exit_status, Status}} ->
>>             {ok, Status};
>>         {RecvPort, {exit_status, Status}} ->
>>             io:format("error: receive port exited ~w~n", [Status]);
>>         {SendPort, {data, Data}} ->
>>             true = erlang:port_command(RecvPort, Data),
>>             pipe_until_exit(SendPort, RecvPort, N + 1);
>>         {RecvPort, {data, _Data}} ->
>>             pipe_until_exit(SendPort, RecvPort, N + 1);
>>         Msg ->
>>             io:format("some other message: ~w", [Msg])
>>     end.
>>
>> ensure_port_closed(Port) ->
>>     case erlang:port_info(Port) of
>>         undefined -> ok;
>>         _         -> erlang:port_close(Port)
>>     end.
>>
>> My assumption is that I am doing something wrong, but I can't see it.
>> I'll explore other solutions, such as simply generating a shell script and
>> invoking it. In the mean time, if you can see something obvious, please let
>> me know.
>>
>> Yes, I am aware of os:cmd/1, but that does not return the exit code,
>> which I really want to have so I know that something at least appeared to
>> work (zfs send|zfs recv and tar|split do not generate any success
>> indication other than exit code).
>>
>> Thanks
>>
>> n
>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> erlang-questions mailing list
>> 
>> http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions
>>
>>
>
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