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From Jordan Zimmerman <>
Subject Re: InterProcessMutex acquire times out and then _succeeds_?
Date Thu, 17 Oct 2013 20:33:03 GMT
InterProcessMutex has the same semantics as a JVM lock. It's re-entrant for the same thread
but it will block other threads that try to acquire it. In the example in the gist, the main
thread locks and then calls setData. The NodeCacheListener, from a different thread, tries
to acquire the same lock as the main thread has so it will have to wait until the main thread
release that lock.


On Oct 17, 2013, at 12:43 PM, Chris Jeris <> wrote:

> The issue seems to be caused by the fact that we have changes propagated by a NodeCache
on a different node, and the NodeCacheListener's implementation attempts to lock the same
lock.  Is this an instance of the "single threaded watcher" problem you're talking about?
> Here's an example that shows the problem:
> The sample output was generated by starting a single instance of the program.  You can
see a couple of cases where, although the MAIN THREAD has released the lock, the NodeCacheListener
thread which is trying to acquire the lock doesn't succeed until its timeout has elapsed all
the way ("took 5012").  It doesn't happen every time, but it happens a substantial fraction
of the time.
> If I change the implementation of listener to wrap the body of nodeChanged in a future,
so that it executes in a separate thread, the problem goes away.  We had thought from examining
the implementation of NodeCache that Listener bodies already execute in a separate background
thread; is this not the case?
> thanks, Chris
> On Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM, Jordan Zimmerman <>
> This sounds suspiciously like a misuse of a watcher somewhere. Are you doing other things
with ZooKeeper? ZooKeeper watches are single threaded. If you have a watcher that blocks,
etc. it will prevent other ZooKeeper recipes from functioning. See this Tech Note:
> Other than that, I haven't heard of this problem. If you can provide a test case, that
would help.
> -Jordan
> On Oct 17, 2013, at 7:47 AM, Chris Jeris <> wrote:
>> We have run into a knotty problem with InterProcessMutex, where calls to .acquire
will expend their full timeout and then _succeed_ in acquiring the lock.  This generally happens
when a different server process was the last one to hold the lock, but it does not happen
every time that is the case.
>> The lock is a single InterProcessMutex object per server process (= server machine),
all on a single persistent Zookeeper node name (the object being access controlled is a single
piece of shared state, whose data is not itself stored in ZK).  The problem arises in the
context of a test suite where requests to our server cluster are issued serially, so there
is basically no competing traffic on the lock, although there is traffic on the ZK cluster
from other applications.  The frequency of acquires on this lock is not excessive (order 1
per second), and we are reasonably certain our client code is not holding the lock longer
than it should.
>> The problem does not seem to be sensitive to the exact value of the timeout.  If
we set it to 15 seconds, we see lock acquires taking 15 seconds and then succeeding; if we
set it to 60 seconds, we see them taking 60 seconds and then succeeding.
>> Right now we observe the problem with Curator 2.1.0 against both ZK 3.3.6 and 3.4.5.
>> Is this a known or familiar issue?  Does it sound like we're doing something wrong?
>> thanks, Chris Jeris
>> -- 
>> Chris Jeris
>> freenode/twitter/github: ystael
> -- 
> Chris Jeris
> freenode/twitter/github: ystael

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