process: External process

Description Polling Cleaning up background processes Methods Examples

Description

Managing external processes from R is not trivial, and this class aims to help with this deficiency. It is essentially a small wrapper around the system base R function, to return the process id of the started process, and set its standard output and error streams. The process id is then used to manage the process.

Polling

The poll_io() function polls the standard output and standard error connections of a process, with a timeout. If there is output in either of them, or they are closed (e.g. because the process exits) poll_io() returns immediately.

In addition to polling a single process, the poll() function can poll the output of several processes, and returns as soon as any of them has generated output (or exited).

Cleaning up background processes

processx kills processes that are not referenced any more (if cleanup is set to TRUE), or the whole subprocess tree (if cleanup_tree is also set to TRUE).

The cleanup happens when the references of the processes object are garbage collected. To clean up earlier, you can call the kill() or kill_tree() method of the process(es), from an on.exit() expression, or an error handler:

process_manager <- function() {
  on.exit({
    try(p1$kill(), silent = TRUE)
    try(p2$kill(), silent = TRUE)
  }, add = TRUE)
  p1 <- process$new("sleep", "3")
  p2 <- process$new("sleep", "10")
  p1$wait()
  p2$wait()
}
process_manager()

If you interrupt process_manager() or an error happens then both p1 and p2 are cleaned up immediately. Their connections will also be closed. The same happens at a regular exit.

Methods

Public methods


Method new()

Start a new process in the background, and then return immediately.

Usage
process$new(
  command = NULL,
  args = character(),
  stdin = NULL,
  stdout = NULL,
  stderr = NULL,
  pty = FALSE,
  pty_options = list(),
  connections = list(),
  poll_connection = NULL,
  env = NULL,
  cleanup = TRUE,
  cleanup_tree = FALSE,
  wd = NULL,
  echo_cmd = FALSE,
  supervise = FALSE,
  windows_verbatim_args = FALSE,
  windows_hide_window = FALSE,
  encoding = "",
  post_process = NULL
)
Arguments
command

Character scalar, the command to run. Note that this argument is not passed to a shell, so no tilde-expansion or variable substitution is performed on it. It should not be quoted with base::shQuote(). See base::normalizePath() for tilde-expansion.

args

Character vector, arguments to the command. They will be passed to the process as is, without a shell transforming them, They don't need to be escaped.

stdin

What to do with the standard input. Possible values:

  • NULL: set to the null device, i.e. no standard input is provided;

  • a file name, use this file as standard input;

  • "|": create a (writeable) connection for stdin.

stdout

What to do with the standard output. Possible values:

  • NULL: discard it;

  • a string, redirect it to this file;

  • "|": create a connection for it.

stderr

What to do with the standard error. Possible values:

  • NULL: discard it;

  • a string, redirect it to this file;

  • "|": create a connection for it;

  • "2>&1": redirect it to the same connection (i.e. pipe or file) as stdout. "2>&1" is a way to keep standard output and error correctly interleaved.

pty

Whether to create a pseudo terminal (pty) for the background process. This is currently only supported on Unix systems, but not supported on Solaris. If it is TRUE, then the stdin, stdout and stderr arguments must be NULL. If a pseudo terminal is created, then processx will create pipes for standard input and standard output. There is no separate pipe for standard error, because there is no way to distinguish between stdout and stderr on a pty. Note that the standard output connection of the pty is blocking, so we always poll the standard output connection before reading from it using the $read_output() method. Also, because $read_output_lines() could still block if no complete line is available, this function always fails if the process has a pty. Use $read_output() to read from ptys.

pty_options

Unix pseudo terminal options, a named list. see default_pty_options() for details and defaults.

connections

A list of processx connections to pass to the child process. This is an experimental feature currently.

poll_connection

Whether to create an extra connection to the process that allows polling, even if the standard input and standard output are not pipes. If this is NULL (the default), then this connection will be only created if standard output and standard error are not pipes, and connections is an empty list. If the poll connection is created, you can query it via p$get_poll_connection() and it is also included in the response to p$poll_io() and poll(). The numeric file descriptor of the poll connection comes right after stderr (2), and the connections listed in connections.

env

Environment variables of the child process. If NULL, the parent's environment is inherited. On Windows, many programs cannot function correctly if some environment variables are not set, so we always set HOMEDRIVE, HOMEPATH, LOGONSERVER, PATH, SYSTEMDRIVE, SYSTEMROOT, TEMP, USERDOMAIN, USERNAME, USERPROFILE and WINDIR.

cleanup

Whether to kill the process when the process object is garbage collected.

cleanup_tree

Whether to kill the process and its child process tree when the process object is garbage collected.

wd

Working directory of the process. It must exist. If NULL, then the current working directory is used.

echo_cmd

Whether to print the command to the screen before running it.

supervise

Whether to register the process with a supervisor. If TRUE, the supervisor will ensure that the process is killed when the R process exits.

windows_verbatim_args

Whether to omit quoting the arguments on Windows. It is ignored on other platforms.

windows_hide_window

Whether to hide the application's window on Windows. It is ignored on other platforms.

encoding

The encoding to assume for stdin, stdout and stderr. By default the encoding of the current locale is used. Note that processx always reencodes the output of the stdout and stderr streams in UTF-8 currently. If you want to read them without any conversion, on all platforms, specify "UTF-8" as encoding.

post_process

An optional function to run when the process has finished. Currently it only runs if $get_result() is called. It is only run once.

Returns

R6 object representing the process.


Method finalize()

Cleanup method that is called when the process object is garbage collected. If requested so in the process constructor, then it eliminates all processes in the process's subprocess tree.

Usage
process$finalize()

Method kill()

Terminate the process. It also terminate all of its child processes, except if they have created a new process group (on Unix), or job object (on Windows). It returns TRUE if the process was terminated, and FALSE if it was not (because it was already finished/dead when processx tried to terminate it).

Usage
process$kill(grace = 0.1, close_connections = TRUE)
Arguments
grace

Currently not used.

close_connections

Whether to close standard input, standard output, standard error connections and the poll connection, after killing the process.


Method kill_tree()

Process tree cleanup. It terminates the process (if still alive), together with any child (or grandchild, etc.) processes. It uses the ps package, so that needs to be installed, and ps needs to support the current platform as well. Process tree cleanup works by marking the process with an environment variable, which is inherited in all child processes. This allows finding descendents, even if they are orphaned, i.e. they are not connected to the root of the tree cleanup in the process tree any more. $kill_tree() returns a named integer vector of the process ids that were killed, the names are the names of the processes (e.g. "sleep", "notepad.exe", "Rterm.exe", etc.).

Usage
process$kill_tree(grace = 0.1, close_connections = TRUE)
Arguments
grace

Currently not used.

close_connections

Whether to close standard input, standard output, standard error connections and the poll connection, after killing the process.


Method signal()

Send a signal to the process. On Windows only the SIGINT, SIGTERM and SIGKILL signals are interpreted, and the special 0 signal. The first three all kill the process. The 0 signal returns TRUE if the process is alive, and FALSE otherwise. On Unix all signals are supported that the OS supports, and the 0 signal as well.

Usage
process$signal(signal)
Arguments
signal

An integer scalar, the id of the signal to send to the process. See tools::pskill() for the list of signals.


Method interrupt()

Send an interrupt to the process. On Unix this is a SIGINT signal, and it is usually equivalent to pressing CTRL+C at the terminal prompt. On Windows, it is a CTRL+BREAK keypress. Applications may catch these events. By default they will quit.

Usage
process$interrupt()

Method get_pid()

Query the process id.

Usage
process$get_pid()
Returns

Integer scalar, the process id of the process.


Method is_alive()

Check if the process is alive.

Usage
process$is_alive()
Returns

Logical scalar.


Method wait()

Wait until the process finishes, or a timeout happens. Note that if the process never finishes, and the timeout is infinite (the default), then R will never regain control. In some rare cases, $wait() might take a bit longer than specified to time out. This happens on Unix, when another package overwrites the processx SIGCHLD signal handler, after the processx process has started. One such package is parallel, if used with fork clusters, e.g. through parallel::mcparallel().

Usage
process$wait(timeout = -1)
Arguments
timeout

Timeout in milliseconds, for the wait or the I/O polling.

Returns

It returns the process itself, invisibly.


Method get_exit_status()

$get_exit_status returns the exit code of the process if it has finished and NULL otherwise. On Unix, in some rare cases, the exit status might be NA. This happens if another package (or R itself) overwrites the processx SIGCHLD handler, after the processx process has started. In these cases processx cannot determine the real exit status of the process. One such package is parallel, if used with fork clusters, e.g. through the parallel::mcparallel() function.

Usage
process$get_exit_status()

Method format()

format(p) or p$format() creates a string representation of the process, usually for printing.

Usage
process$format()

Method print()

print(p) or p$print() shows some information about the process on the screen, whether it is running and it's process id, etc.

Usage
process$print()

Method get_start_time()

$get_start_time() returns the time when the process was started.

Usage
process$get_start_time()

Method is_supervised()

$is_supervised() returns whether the process is being tracked by supervisor process.

Usage
process$is_supervised()

Method supervise()

$supervise() if passed TRUE, tells the supervisor to start tracking the process. If FALSE, tells the supervisor to stop tracking the process. Note that even if the supervisor is disabled for a process, if it was started with cleanup = TRUE, the process will still be killed when the object is garbage collected.

Usage
process$supervise(status)
Arguments
status

Whether to turn on of off the supervisor for this process.


Method read_output()

$read_output() reads from the standard output connection of the process. If the standard output connection was not requested, then then it returns an error. It uses a non-blocking text connection. This will work only if stdout="|" was used. Otherwise, it will throw an error.

Usage
process$read_output(n = -1)
Arguments
n

Number of characters or lines to read.


Method read_error()

$read_error() is similar to $read_output, but it reads from the standard error stream.

Usage
process$read_error(n = -1)
Arguments
n

Number of characters or lines to read.


Method read_output_lines()

$read_output_lines() reads lines from standard output connection of the process. If the standard output connection was not requested, then it returns an error. It uses a non-blocking text connection. This will work only if stdout="|" was used. Otherwise, it will throw an error.

Usage
process$read_output_lines(n = -1)
Arguments
n

Number of characters or lines to read.


Method read_error_lines()

$read_error_lines() is similar to $read_output_lines, but it reads from the standard error stream.

Usage
process$read_error_lines(n = -1)
Arguments
n

Number of characters or lines to read.


Method is_incomplete_output()

$is_incomplete_output() return FALSE if the other end of the standard output connection was closed (most probably because the process exited). It return TRUE otherwise.

Usage
process$is_incomplete_output()

Method is_incomplete_error()

$is_incomplete_error() return FALSE if the other end of the standard error connection was closed (most probably because the process exited). It return TRUE otherwise.

Usage
process$is_incomplete_error()

Method has_input_connection()

$has_input_connection() return TRUE if there is a connection object for standard input; in other words, if stdout="|". It returns FALSE otherwise.

Usage
process$has_input_connection()

Method has_output_connection()

$has_output_connection() returns TRUE if there is a connection object for standard output; in other words, if stdout="|". It returns FALSE otherwise.

Usage
process$has_output_connection()

Method has_error_connection()

$has_error_connection() returns TRUE if there is a connection object for standard error; in other words, if stderr="|". It returns FALSE otherwise.

Usage
process$has_error_connection()

Method has_poll_connection()

$has_poll_connection() return TRUE if there is a poll connection, FALSE otherwise.

Usage
process$has_poll_connection()

Method get_input_connection()

$get_input_connection() returns a connection object, to the standard input stream of the process.

Usage
process$get_input_connection()

Method get_output_connection()

$get_output_connection() returns a connection object, to the standard output stream of the process.

Usage
process$get_output_connection()

Method get_error_connection()

$get_error_conneciton() returns a connection object, to the standard error stream of the process.

Usage
process$get_error_connection()

Method read_all_output()

$read_all_output() waits for all standard output from the process. It does not return until the process has finished. Note that this process involves waiting for the process to finish, polling for I/O and potentically several readLines() calls. It returns a character scalar. This will return content only if stdout="|" was used. Otherwise, it will throw an error.

Usage
process$read_all_output()

Method read_all_error()

$read_all_error() waits for all standard error from the process. It does not return until the process has finished. Note that this process involves waiting for the process to finish, polling for I/O and potentically several readLines() calls. It returns a character scalar. This will return content only if stderr="|" was used. Otherwise, it will throw an error.

Usage
process$read_all_error()

Method read_all_output_lines()

$read_all_output_lines() waits for all standard output lines from a process. It does not return until the process has finished. Note that this process involves waiting for the process to finish, polling for I/O and potentically several readLines() calls. It returns a character vector. This will return content only if stdout="|" was used. Otherwise, it will throw an error.

Usage
process$read_all_output_lines()

Method read_all_error_lines()

$read_all_error_lines() waits for all standard error lines from a process. It does not return until the process has finished. Note that this process involves waiting for the process to finish, polling for I/O and potentically several readLines() calls. It returns a character vector. This will return content only if stderr="|" was used. Otherwise, it will throw an error.

Usage
process$read_all_error_lines()

Method write_input()

$write_input() writes the character vector (separated by sep) to the standard input of the process. It will be converted to the specified encoding. This operation is non-blocking, and it will return, even if the write fails (because the write buffer is full), or if it suceeds partially (i.e. not the full string is written). It returns with a raw vector, that contains the bytes that were not written. You can supply this raw vector to $write_input() again, until it is fully written, and then the return value will be raw(0) (invisibly).

Usage
process$write_input(str, sep = "\n")
Arguments
str

Character or raw vector to write to the standard input of the process. If a character vector with a marked encoding, it will be converted to encoding.

sep

Separator to add between str elements if it is a character vector. It is ignored if str is a raw vector.

Returns

Leftover text (as a raw vector), that was not written.


Method get_input_file()

$get_input_file() if the stdin argument was a filename, this returns the absolute path to the file. If stdin was "|" or NULL, this simply returns that value.

Usage
process$get_input_file()

Method get_output_file()

$get_output_file() if the stdout argument was a filename, this returns the absolute path to the file. If stdout was "|" or NULL, this simply returns that value.

Usage
process$get_output_file()

Method get_error_file()

$get_error_file() if the stderr argument was a filename, this returns the absolute path to the file. If stderr was "|" or NULL, this simply returns that value.

Usage
process$get_error_file()

Method poll_io()

$poll_io() polls the process's connections for I/O. See more in the Polling section, and see also the poll() function to poll on multiple processes.

Usage
process$poll_io(timeout)
Arguments
timeout

Timeout in milliseconds, for the wait or the I/O polling.


Method get_poll_connection()

$get_poll_connetion() returns the poll connection, if the process has one.

Usage
process$get_poll_connection()

Method get_result()

$get_result() returns the result of the post processesing function. It can only be called once the process has finished. If the process has no post-processing function, then NULL is returned.

Usage
process$get_result()

Method as_ps_handle()

$as_ps_handle() returns a ps::ps_handle object, corresponding to the process.

Usage
process$as_ps_handle()

Method get_name()

Calls ps::ps_name() to get the process name.

Usage
process$get_name()

Method get_exe()

Calls ps::ps_exe() to get the path of the executable.

Usage
process$get_exe()

Method get_cmdline()

Calls ps::ps_cmdline() to get the command line.

Usage
process$get_cmdline()

Method get_status()

Calls ps::ps_status() to get the process status.

Usage
process$get_status()

Method get_username()

calls ps::ps_username() to get the username.

Usage
process$get_username()

Method get_wd()

Calls ps::ps_cwd() to get the current working directory.

Usage
process$get_wd()

Method get_cpu_times()

Calls ps::ps_cpu_times() to get CPU usage data.

Usage
process$get_cpu_times()

Method get_memory_info()

Calls ps::ps_memory_info() to get memory data.

Usage
process$get_memory_info()

Method suspend()

Calls ps::ps_suspend() to suspend the process.

Usage
process$suspend()

Method resume()

Calls ps::ps_resume() to resume a suspended process.

Usage
process$resume()

Examples

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p <- process$new("sleep", "2")
p$is_alive()
p
p$kill()
p$is_alive()

p <- process$new("sleep", "1")
p$is_alive()
Sys.sleep(2)
p$is_alive()

r-pkgs/processx documentation built on Feb. 18, 2020, 5:52 a.m.