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A module that samples running scripts, logging tracebacks.

Project description


Tripod is a module that samples running scripts, logging tracebacks to a temp file.

Most of the code was brought over from the Django watchdog middleware project, Dogslow.


Install tripod:

$ pip install tripod


You can use the following environmental variables to adjust the sampler:

# Log traceback of running script every 5 seconds


Run tripod:

$ python -m tripod.sampler ./
[Tripod] Sampling every 5.000000 seconds
[Tripod] Writing output to: /tmp/slow_process_tkM6Rt.log

Every 5 seconds the watchdog is activated and takes a peek at the script’s stack and appends the backtrace (including all local stack variables) to the log file.

Every stack is appended to the log file and looks like this:

File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 162, in _run_module_as_main
    "__main__", fname, loader, pkg_name)
File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 72, in _run_code
    exec code in run_globals
File "/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/", line 128, in <module>
File "/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/", line 118, in main
    exec in globals(), globals()
File "<string>", line 5, in <module>
File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 351, in read
    data = self._sock.recv(rbufsize)
File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 553, in read
    s =
File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 380, in read
    data = self._sock.recv(left)

Full backtrace with local variables:

File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 162, in _run_module_as_main
    "__main__", fname, loader, pkg_name)

    Arguments: _run_module_as_main(mod_name='tripod.sampler', alter_argv=1)
    Local variables:

    {'alter_argv': 1,
    'code': <code object <module> at 0x10ba09a30, file "/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/", line 1>,
    'fname': '/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/',
    'loader': <pkgutil.ImpLoader instance at 0x10ba0a368>,
    'main_globals': {'SafePrettyPrinter': <class '__main__.SafePrettyPrinter'>,
                        'Timer': <class 'tripod.timer.Timer'>,
                        '__builtins__': <module '__builtin__' (built-in)>,
                        '__doc__': None,
                        '__file__': '',
                        '__loader__': <pkgutil.ImpLoader instance at 0x10ba0a368>,
                        '__name__': '__main__',
                        '__package__': 'tripod',
                        'dt': <module 'datetime' from '/Users/shayne/pyenv/lib/python2.7/lib-dynload/'>,
                        'f': <addinfourl at 4495809568 whose fp = <socket._fileobject object at 0x10bac70d0>>,
                        'formatvalue': <function formatvalue at 0x10bac1320>,
                        'inspect': <module 'inspect' from '/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/'>,
                        'linecache': <module 'linecache' from '/Users/shayne/pyenv/lib/python2.7/linecache.pyc'>,
                        'main': <function main at 0x10bac1488>,
                        'os': <module 'os' from '/Users/shayne/pyenv/lib/python2.7/os.pyc'>,
                        'peek': <function peek at 0x10bac1410>,
                        'pprint': <module 'pprint' from '/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/'>,
                        'spformat': <function spformat at 0x10ba649b0>,
                        'stack': <function stack at 0x10bac1398>,
                        'sys': <module 'sys' (built-in)>,
                        'tempfile': <module 'tempfile' from '/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/tempfile.pyc'>,
                        'thread': <module 'thread' (built-in)>,
                        'urllib2': <module 'urllib2' from '/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/urllib2.pyc'>},
    'mod_name': 'tripod.sampler',
    'pkg_name': 'tripod'}

File "/System/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/lib/python2.7/", line 72, in _run_code
    exec code in run_globals

    Arguments: _run_code(code=<code object <module> at 0x10ba09a30, file "/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/", line 1>, run_globals=<dict object at 0x7f9812c1dc40 (really long repr)>, init_globals=None, mod_name='__main__', mod_fname='/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/', mod_loader=<pkgutil.ImpLoader instance at 0x10ba0a368>, pkg_name='tripod')
    Local variables:

    {'code': <code object <module> at 0x10ba09a30, file "/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/", line 1>,
    'init_globals': None,
    'mod_fname': '/Users/shayne/Code/tripod/tripod/',
    'mod_loader': <pkgutil.ImpLoader instance at 0x10ba0a368>,
    'mod_name': '__main__',

  ...loads more...

The example above shows that the request thread was blocked in at the time tripod took its snapshot.

Note that tripod only takes a peek at the thread’s stack. It does not interrupt the script, or influence it in any other way.


Tripod, like Dogslow uses multithreading. It has a single background thread that handles the timer timeouts and takes the tracebacks, so that the original script threads are not interrupted. This has some consequences.

Multithreading and the GIL

In cPython, the GIL (Global Interpreter Lock) prevents multiple threads from executing Python code simultaneously. Only when a thread explicitly releases its lock on the GIL, can a second thread run.

Releasing the GIL is done automatically whenever a Python program makes blocking calls outside of the interpreter, for example when doing IO.

For tripod this means that it can only reliably sample scripts that are slow because they are doing IO, calling sleep or busy waiting to acquire locks themselves.

In most cases this is fine. A scenario where cPython’s GIL is problematic is when the request’s thread hits an infinite loop in Python code (or legitimate Python that is extremely expensive and takes a long time to execute), never releasing the GIL. Even though tripod’s watchdog timer does become runnable, it cannot log the stack.

Co-routines and Greenlets

Tripod is intended for use in a synchronous configuration. A process that uses dedicated threads (or single-threaded processes).

When running with a “co-routines framework” where multiple requests are served concurrently by one thread, backtraces might become nonsensical.

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