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For 2023 (and 2024 ...) - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
Multiple processes (forking) in Python

What is forking

If you want a process to head off in two different directions, you can fork it. That results in identical copies of the process being created - the original (parent) and the copy (child), each with their own complete set of variables, and program counter, etc.

The clever thing is that the parent can tell it's the parent because the fork function return the process id of the child to it, and the child can tell its the child because it gets a false return from the fork. Thus you can test the code and have parent and child go off in different logic:

gerald = fork()
if not gerald:
  # child - doesn't know parent's PID
  # parent - gets process id of child

Full Sample source

Why would you fork a process?

If you're writing something like a print driver, then it can be a good idea to fork a process off to print, while you continue with the main parent code.

We've got an example of this technique in use to "ping" to a whole series of remote systems ... forking off a new child each time that an IP address is entered, with potentially lots of children waiting for slow / inaccessible hosts in parallel

Full Sample Source

What is you want to correlate responses from the children?

The "trick" here is to open a pipe before you fork; forking connects the read handle in the child to the write handle in the parent, and vice versa, so that the child can remain in touch with the child.

Full Sample source

Note that that parent process will now have to wait for the child - so you're not getting the same parallel benefits. You can use signals, and methods that check whether data's available in the buffers, to add greater flexibility if you need to do so.


Python threads are a lighter weight way of parallel processing - where execution remains within a single process. I've got an article about that [here] in the solution centre.

You can also start off two completely independent processes - on the same computer or on different computers - and have them talk through a network port - TCP or UDP. That's a subject for a further post! Now made [here]

(written 2010-03-25)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
Y303 - Python Network Programming
  [2365] Counting Words in Python via the web - (2009-08-18)
  [2368] Python - fresh examples of all the fundamentals - (2009-08-20)
  [2695] TCP v UDP / Client v Server - Python examples - (2010-03-25)
  [2765] Running operating system commands from your Python program - (2010-05-14)
  [4087] Python network programming - new FTP and socket level examples - (2013-05-14)

P223 - Perl - Interprocess Communication
  [604] Perl - multiprocess applications - (2006-02-13)
  [1918] Perl Socket Programming Examples - (2008-12-02)
  [2970] Perl - doing several things at the same time - (2010-09-25)
  [3010] Children, zombies, and reaping processes - (2010-10-23)
  [3011] What are .pid files? - (2010-10-23)
  [3412] Handling binary data in Perl is easy! - (2011-08-30)
  [3940] Run other processes from within your Perl program - (2012-12-03)

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Methods that run on classes (static methods) in Python
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Some other Articles
Ruth Davis, 1916 - 2010
Email metrics and filtering
Garlic bread without garlic
Multiple processes (forking) in Python
Methods that run on classes (static methods) in Python
Flexible search and replace in Python
New brochures for the Melksham area
The World Company Register - is it another scam?
Can my dog eat potatoes? Doggie Dietary Research, and political sleaze!
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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