[Mono-devel-list] Regarding file sharing in .NET and Mono

Bill Middleton flashdict at gmail.com
Wed Apr 27 17:54:06 EDT 2005

Hello group,

I've been trying to help work out bug number 74732:


I suspect that, in spite of his immense capacity to deliver excellent works, 
(or possibly because of that) I may be starting to irritate the developer in 
charge of fixing the problem with my suggestions. Clearly, Dick is very busy 
right now.

To avoid that, I've decided to simply subject myself to the ridicule of the 
group if I'm wrong. :-)

Now, for those who are familiar with the io-layer, you'll know that it 
performs a check when opening a file, to see if the wapi filehandle exists 
for the file. If a wapi filehandle exists, then one of the following is 

A. Another running mono process has the file open 
B. A mono process had the file open and crashed without clearing the handle

In both cases, the io-layer peforms another check in the (supported) /proc 
filesystem, to see if any other mono process truly has the file open, and if 
not, then the handle is cleared, and the file is allowed to be opened. 
Unfortunately, not all operating systems which run Mono have a procfs(5) 
which supports that secondary check, which relies on checking each and every 
file opened by every PID running on the system to see if it matches the one 
we currently want to open. This leaves OSX and FreeBSD, along with any other 
system which doesn't have, or doesn't enable /proc with a sharing exception, 
even if the the original opening process is long dead.

After groping about for awhile with debug modes in the io-layer, and reading 
some in MSDN, it has occured to me that the check to see whether a given 
file is actually open by a running process could be greatly simplified, and 
made to fully support any OS. How? 

Simply add a pid member to the wapi filehandle. When a file is opened in a 
non-shared mode, set the pid. If another process comes along and wants to 
open the file, and the file isn't shared, it simply needs to check if the 
pid which is attached to the wapi filehandle is still running. If it's not, 
then it's ok to clear the handle and reopen the file.

Because .NET (and thus Mono) cannot allow a file to be opened by more than a 
single process unless one of the FileShare enum values (FileShare.Read, 
FileShare.Write, etc) was passed in as an argument to the FileStream 
constructor, I believe this will work. If the file was opened in a shared 
mode, then it can always be reopened, even if the original process crashed 
and left the handle uncleared. If it was opened in a non-shared mode, then 
it can only be opened again if the PID which opened the file originally is 
dead, and a simple check in the toplevel /proc directory (or via other 
non-privileged means) can tell us if a given PID is alive.

Does this sound correct? Is it not the case that .NET absolutely requires 
FileShare.Write to be set, before a file can be opened for writing by more 
than one .NET process, including threads? If so, then please confirm. If 
not, then let the ridiculing begin. :)

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