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Concurrent Gzip in Python

Python, Linux, Docker

Suppose you have a bunch of files you need to Gzip in Python; what's the optimal way to do that? In serial, to avoid saturating the GIL? In multiprocessing, to spread the load across CPU cores? Or with threads?

I needed to know this for symbols.mozilla.org since it does a lot of Gzip'ing. In symbols.mozilla.org clients upload a zip file full of files. A lot of them are plain text and when uploaded to S3 it's best to store them gzipped. Basically it does this:

def upload_sym_file(s3_client, payload, bucket_name, key_name):
    file_buffer = BytesIO()
    with gzip.GzipFile(fileobj=file_buffer, mode='w') as f:
        f.write(payload)
    file_buffer.seek(0, os.SEEK_END)
    size = file_buffer.tell()
    file_buffer.seek(0)
    s3_client.put_object(
        Bucket=bucket_name,
        Key=key_name,
        Body=file_buffer
    )
    print(f"Uploaded {size}")

Another important thing to consider before jumping into the benchmark is to appreciate the context of this application; the bundles of files I need to gzip are often many but smallish. The average file size of the files that need to be gzip'ed is ~300KB. And each bundle is between 5 to 25 files.

The Benchmark

For the sake of the benchmark, here, all it does it figure out the size of each gzipped buffer and reports that as a list.

f1 - Basic serial

def f1(payloads):
    sizes = []
    for payload in payloads:
        sizes.append(_get_size(payload))
    return sizes

f2 - Using multiprocessing.Pool

def f2(payloads):  # multiprocessing
    sizes = []
    with multiprocessing.Pool() as p:
        sizes = p.map(_get_size, payloads)
    return sizes

f3 - Using concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor

def f3(payloads):  # concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor
    sizes = []
    futures = []
    with concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor() as executor:
        for payload in payloads:
            futures.append(
                executor.submit(
                    _get_size,
                    payload
                )
            )
        for future in concurrent.futures.as_completed(futures):
            sizes.append(future.result())
    return sizes

f4 - Using concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor

def f4(payloads):  # concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor
    sizes = []
    futures = []
    with concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor() as executor:
        for payload in payloads:
            futures.append(
                executor.submit(
                    _get_size,
                    payload
                )
            )
        for future in concurrent.futures.as_completed(futures):
            sizes.append(future.result())
    return sizes

Note that when using asynchronous methods like this, the order of items returned is not the same as they're submitted. An easy remedy if you need the results back in order is to not use a list but to use a dictionary. Then you can track each key (or index if you like) to a value.

The Results

I ran this on three different .zip files of different sizes. To get some sanity in the benchmark I made it print out how many bytes it has to process and how many bytes the gzip will manage to do.

# files 66
Total bytes to gzip 140.69MB
Total bytes gzipped 14.96MB
Total bytes shaved off by gzip 125.73MB

# files 103
Total bytes to gzip 331.57MB
Total bytes gzipped 66.90MB
Total bytes shaved off by gzip 264.67MB

# files 26
Total bytes to gzip 86.91MB
Total bytes gzipped 8.28MB
Total bytes shaved off by gzip 78.63MB

Sorry for being eastetically handicapped when it comes to using Google Docs but here goes...


This demonstrates the median times it takes each function to complete, each of the three different files.

In all three files I tested, clearly doing it serially (f1) is the worst. Supposedly since my laptop has more than one CPU core and the others are not being used. Another pertinent thing to notice is that when the work is really big, (the middle 4 bars) the difference isn't as big doing things serially compared to concurrently.

That second zip file contained a single file that was 80MB. The largest in the other two files were 18MB and 22MB.


This is the mean across all medians grouped by function and each compared to the slowest.

I call this the "bestest graph". It's a combination across all different sizes and basically concludes which one is the best, which clearly is function f3 (the one using concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor).

CPU Usage

This is probably the best way to explain how the CPU is used; I ran each function repeatedly, then opened gtop and took a screenshot of the list of processes sorted by CPU percentage.

f1 - Serially

f1
No distractions but it takes 100% of one CPU to work.

f2 - multiprocessing.Pool

f2
My laptop has 8 CPU cores, but I don't know why I see 9 Python processes here.
I don't know why each CPU isn't 100% but I guess there's some administrative overhead to start processes by Python.

f3 - concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor

f3
One process, with roughly 5 x 8 = 40 threads GIL swapping back and forth but all in all it manages to keep itself very busy since threads are lightweight to share data to.

f4 - concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor

f4
This is actually kinda like multiprocessing.Pool but with a different (arguably easier) API.

Conclusion

By a small margin concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor won. That's despite not being able to use all CPU cores. This, pseudo scientifically, proves that the overhead of starting the threads is (remember average number of files in each .zip is ~65) more worth it than being able to use all CPUs.

Discussion

There's an interesting twist to this! At least for my use case...

In the application I'm working on, there's actually a lot more that needs to be done other than just gzip'ping some blobs of files. For each file I need to a HEAD query to AWS S3 and an PUT query to AWS S3 too. So what I actually need to do is create an instance of client = botocore.client.S3 that I use to call client.list_objects_v2 and client.put_object.

When you create an instance of botocore.client.S3, automatically botocore will instanciate itself with credentials from os.environ['AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID'] etc. (or read from some /.aws file). Once created, if you ask it to do many different network operations, internally it relies on urllib3.poolmanager.PoolManager which is a list of 10 HTTP connections that get reused.

So when you run the serial version you can re-use the client instance for every file you process but you can only use one HTTP connection in the pool. With the concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor it can not only re-use the same instance of botocore.client.S3 it can cycle through all the HTTP connections in the pool.

The process based alternatives like multiprocessing.Pool and concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor can not re-use the botocore.client.S3 instance since it's not pickle'able. And it has to create a new HTTP connection for every single file.

So, the conclusion of the above rambling is that concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor is really awesome! Not only did it perform excellently in the Gzip benchmark, it has the added bonus that it can share instance objects and HTTP connections.

Please post a comment if you have thoughts or questions.

"No space left on device" on OSX Docker

Web development, MacOSX, Docker

https://forums.docker.com/t/no-space-left-on-device-error/10894/15

UPDATE 2020

As Greg Brown pointed out, the new way is:

docker container prune
docker image prune

Original blog post...


 

If you run out of disk space in your Docker containers on OSX, this is probably the best thing to run:

docker rm $(docker ps -q -f 'status=exited')
docker rmi $(docker images -q -f "dangling=true")

The Problem

This isn't the first time it's happened so I'm blogging about it to not forget. My postgres image in my docker-compose.yml didn't start and since it's linked its problem is "hidden". Running it in the foreground instead you can see what the problem is:

▶ docker-compose run db
The files belonging to this database system will be owned by user "postgres".
This user must also own the server process.

The database cluster will be initialized with locale "en_US.utf8".
The default database encoding has accordingly been set to "UTF8".
The default text search configuration will be set to "english".

Data page checksums are disabled.

fixing permissions on existing directory /var/lib/postgresql/data ... ok
initdb: could not create directory "/var/lib/postgresql/data/pg_xlog": No space left on device
initdb: removing contents of data directory "/var/lib/postgresql/data"

Docker on OSX

I admit that I have so much to learn about Docker and the learning is slow. Docker is amazing but I think I'm slow to learn because I'm just not that interested as long as it works and I can work on my apps.

It seems to me that there's a cap of all storage of all Docker containers in one big file in OSX. It's capped to 64GB:

▶ cd ~/Library/Containers/com.docker.docker/Data/com.docker.driver.amd64-linux/

com.docker.docker/Data/com.docker.driver.amd64-linux
▶ ls -lh Docker.qcow2
-rw-r--r--@ 1 peterbe  staff    63G Oct  3 08:51 Docker.qcow2

If you run the above mentioned commands (docker rm ...) this file does not shrink but space is freed up. Just like how MongoDB (used to) allocates much more disk space than it actually uses.

If you delete that Docker.qcow2 and restart Docker the space problem goes away but then the problem is that you lose all your active containers which is especially annoying if you have useful data in database containers.

Please post a comment if you have thoughts or questions.