File::SharedNFSLock Perl module
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README

NAME
    File::SharedNFSLock - Inter-machine advisory file locking on NFS volumes

SYNOPSIS
      use File::SharedNFSLock;
      my $flock = File::SharedNFSLock->new(
        file => 'some_file_on_nfs',
      );
      my $got_lock = $flock->lock(); # blocks for $timeout_acquire seconds if necessary
      if ($got_lock) {
        # hack hack hack...
      }
      $flock->unlock;
  
      # meanwhile, on another machine or in another process:
      my $flock = File::SharedNFSLock->new(
        file => 'some_file_on_nfs',
      );
      my $got_lock = $flock->lock(); # blocks for timeout or until first process is done
      # ...

DESCRIPTION
    This module implements advisory file locking on NFS (or non-NFS)
    filesystems.

    NFS (at least before v4) is evil. File locking on NFS volumes is worse.
    This module attempts to implement file locking on NFS volumes using lock
    files and hard links. It's in production use at our site, but if it
    doesn't work for you, I'm not surprised!

    Note that the lock files are always written to the same directory as the
    original file! There is always one lock file per process that tries to
    acquire the lock. This module does NOT do signal handling. You will have
    to do that yourself.

  ALGORITHM
    I use the fact that hard links are (err, appear to be) atomic even with
    NFS. So I write a process-specific, unique lock file and then hard-link
    it to the real thing. Afterwards, `stat()' tells me the number of
    hard-linked instances of the file (when polling my unique, private
    file). This indicates that I have acquired the lock.

    The algorithm was snatched from a document called *NFS Considered
    Harmful* by *Shane Kerr*. I found it at
    http://www.time-travellers.org/shane/papers/NFS_considered_harmful.html.
    Look for chapter III, *List of Concerns*, concern *d*: *Exclusive File
    Creation*. The described workaround is, I quote:

      The solution for performing atomic file locking using a lockfile
      is to create a unique file on the same fs (e.g., incorporating
      hostname and pid), use link(2) to make a link to the lockfile and
      use stat(2) on the unique file to check if its link count has
      increased to 2. Do not use the return value of the link() call.

METHODS
  new
    Creates a new lock object but does NOT attempt to acquire the lock (see
    `lock()' below). Takes named arguments. All times in the parameters are
    in seconds and can be floating point values, indicating a fraction of a
    second.

    Mandatory argument: *file* pointing at the file that is to be locked.

    Optional arguments: *poll_interval* indicates the number of seconds to
    wait between attempts to acquire the lock. Defaults to 1 second.

    *timeout_acquire* indicates the total time that may be spent trying to
    acquire a lock when `lock()' is called. After this time has elapsed, we
    bail out without having acquired a lock. Default: 60 seconds. If set to
    0, the lock acquisition effectively becomes non-blocking.

    *timeout_stale* indicates the number of seconds since the creation of an
    existing lock file, after which this alien lock file is to be considered
    stale. A stale lock will be removed and replaced with our own lock
    (watch out!). Default: 5 minutes. Set this to 0 to disable the feature.

    *unique_token* is an optional parameter that will uniquely identify the
    lock. If you want to attempt locking the same file from the same process
    in different locations, they must set a unique token (host name, process
    id and thread id are used additionally). Set this to `1' to have a
    random token auto-generated.

  lock
    Attempts to acquire a lock on the file. Returns 1 on success, 0 on
    failure (time out).

  unlock
    Releases the lock, deletes the lock file. This is automatically called
    on destruction of the lock object!

  got_lock
    Checks whether we have the lock on the file. Prefer calling got_lock()
    instead of its older form, locked().

    *Note:* This is a fairly expensive operation requiring a `stat' call.

  is_locked
    Checks file is currently locked by someone.

  wait
    Wait until the file becomes free of any lock. This uses the
    *poll_interval* constructor passed to new().

CAVEATS
  Lack of link() support
    Some filesystems such as FAT32 do not support linking files. If the file
    you want to lock is on such a filesystem, you will receive an error
    message.

    Note: FAT32 is mostly relegated to USB sticks nowadays. No sane server
    will use NFS-mounted FAT32 filesystems.

  Testing
    Basic unit tests are in place for this module. However, it is not
    extensively tested (Patches welcome!). While the module is used on
    production systems here, do your own testing since it may contain hidden
    race conditions.

    Born out of frustration with existing locking modules.

SEE ALSO
    File::NFSLock, but that doesn't work for multiple machines (just for a
    single machine and multiple processes).

    Time::HiRes is used to implement fractional-second `sleep()' and
    `time()' calls.

AUTHOR
    Steffen Mueller, <smueller@cpan.org>

COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE
    Copyright (C) 2010-2011 by Steffen Mueller

    This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
    under the same terms as Perl itself, either Perl version 5.10.0 or, at
    your option, any later version of Perl 5 you may have available.