[Mario Lorenz]
> we have spent most of the day tracking down obscure
> hangs of Zope (2.6.4rc1) under python2.1.3 on a RHEL3
> machine.

Based on what you say next, it sure sounds like this isn't unique to
2.6.4rc1.  Did the same code "work" under some previous release?  The
infinite loop appears to be an inherent property of this iteration of the
cPickleCache design, and that's not new in 2.6.4rc1.

> The problem seems to be a logic flaw somewhere related
> to the cPickleCache, when using a destructor in a Zope
> object that accesses itself.
>
> In our case(shortened to the offending line):
>
>  def __del__(self):
>      print "About to destroy: ", self.id
>
> What seems to happen is that the "self.id" access causes
> the object to be cached again, causing scan_gc_items()
> to run in circles.

Based on eyeballing the C code, "the ring" is a list of objects in cache,
ordered from least recently used to most recently used.  scan_gc_items
traverses this list once, from LRU to MRU, ghosting ghostifiable objects
until the target number of non-ghost objects remaining is reached, or the
entire list has been traversed.

It looks like ghostifying your "self" triggers self.__del__().  Then the
__del__ method unghostifies self, which has the side effect of moving self
to the MRU end of the ring, which in turn means the list traversal will
visit self *again*.  When it does, same thing happens all over again, ad
infinitum.

> Any ideas on how to best fix this?

As the docs Chris pointed you at say, persistent objects shouldn't have
__del__ methods.  If the by-eyeball analysis above is correct, if a
persistent object does have a __del__ method referencing an attribute of
self, an infinite loop in scan_gc_items() is inevitable.

So I only see 3 workarounds short of rewriting the C code:

1. Lose the __del__ method (recommended).

2. If you need a __del__ method (it's hard to imagine why, since it
   will get called whenever the object is ghostified, and has nothing
   to do with the object's actual lifetime), don't reference any
   persistent objects (and esp. not self) within it.

3. Recompile with MUCH_RING_CHECKING defined.  Then scan_gc_items
   will give up after max(cache_size * 10, 10000) iterations instead
   of running forever.


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