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A user space multicast named pipe implementation backed by a regular file

Project description


A userspace multicast named pipe implementation, backed by a regular file, and accessed via a filebus stdio stream.


Imagine a stream of binary data like /dev/urandom that one wishes for programs to be able to consume in a multicast fashion. An obvious solution would be to redirect the binary data to a log file, and then launch a separate tail command for each program that needs to consume output from the log. However, this is not sustainable because the log size will eventually grow too large if it is unbounded.

In order to solve this problem with filebus, simply pipe the live stream to a filebus producer as follows:

strings /dev/urandom | filebus --filename /tmp/urandom.filebus producer

This command causes the file /tmp/urandom.filebus to behave like a multicast pipe for filebus consumers which are launched like this:

filebus --filename /tmp/urandom.filebus consumer

Implementation details

The on-disk file is updated via atomic rename while a lock is held. File locking makes it safe for multiple producers to concurrently produce to the same stream.

The filebus --back-pressure protocol uses deleted files to indicate consumed buffers. File locking ensures that exactly one consumer will consume and delete each buffer, and producers will not attempt to write a new buffer until the previous buffer has been consumed. A producer writes an empty buffer in order to indicate EOF, and a consumer will terminate when it reads the empty buffer.


The --back-pressure option implement a lossless protocol, but this protocol causes only a single consumer to receive a given buffer. However, it is possible for an unlimited number of consumers which are not using the --back-pressure option to eavesdrop on this stream (provided they have been granted file read permission at the OS level), albeit in a lossy manner.

In the absence of the --back-pressure option, consumers will certainly lose chunks at high data rates, but lower data rates should be lossless, and consumers should always be able to observe the most recent chunk if it has not been quickly replaced by another.

Alternative implementations

The bash implementation currently currently reads newline delimited chunks, whereas the python implementation uses the --sleep-interval and --block-size arguments to delimit chunks. The python implementation is agnostic to the underlying stream in the sense that it explicitly does not interpret any stream content as a delimiter, which is a desirable property for filebus, but not essential for many use cases.


usage: filebus [-h] [--back-pressure] [--block-size N]
               [--impl {bash,python}] [--lossless] [--no-file-monitoring]
               [--filename FILE] [--sleep-interval N] [-v]
               {producer,consumer} ...

  filebus 0.2.0
  A user space multicast named pipe implementation backed by a regular file

positional arguments:
    producer            connect producer side of stream
    consumer            connect consumer side of stream

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  --back-pressure       enable lossless back pressure protocol (unconsumed
                        chunks cause producers to block)
  --block-size N        maximum block size in units of bytes
  --impl {bash,python}, --implementation {bash,python}
                        choose an alternative filebus implementation
                        (alternative implementations interoperate with
  --lossless            an alias for --back-pressure
  --no-file-monitoring  disable filesystem event monitoring
  --filename FILE       path of the data file (the producer updates it via
                        atomic rename)
  --sleep-interval N    check for new messages at least once every N
  -v, --verbose         verbose logging (each occurence increases

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