Mar 10, 2010

Single-instance daemon or "invisible dock"

You always have the touch-sensitive, solid, reliable dock right under your hands - the keyboard, so what's the point of docks?
  • Mouse-user-friendly
  • Look cool (cairo-dock, kiba-dock, macosx)
  • Provide control over the launched instances of each app
Two first points I don't care much about, but the last one sounds really nice - instead of switching to app workspace, you can just push the same hotkey and it'll even be raised for you in case WS is messed up with stacked windows.
Kinda excessive to install a full-fledged dock for just that, besides it'd eat screen space and resources for no good reason, so I made my own "dock".

But it's not really a "dock", since it's actually invisible and basically is just a wrapper for launched commands to check if last process spawned by identical command exists and just bring it to foreground in this case.

For reliable monitoring of spawned processes there has to be a daemon and wrappers should relay either command (and env) or spawned process info to it, which inplies some sort of IPC.
Choosing dbus as that IPC handles the details like watcher-daemon starting and serialization of data and makes the wrapper itself quite liteweight:
#!/usr/bin/env python
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-

dbus_iface = 'net.fraggod.SID'
dbus_path = '/net/fraggod/SID'

import os, sys, dbus
sid = dbus.SessionBus().get_object(dbus_iface, dbus_path)

if sys.argv[1][0] != '/':
    for path in os.getenv('PATH').split(os.pathsep):
        path = os.path.join(path, sys.argv[1])
        if os.path.exists(path):
            sys.argv[1] = path

sid.instance_request(sys.argv[1:], dict(os.environ))

And that's it, most of these just resolves binary location via PATH so it can be used as unique-index in daemon process right off the pipe.

Daemonized part of the scheme just takes the instance off it's stack, fires up a new one or returs back some error message:

@dbus.service.method( dbus_iface,
    in_signature='asa{ss}', out_signature='s' )
def instance_request(self, argz, env):
        data = self.pop_instance(argz, env)
        return data if data else ''
    except Exception, err: return 'ERROR: {0}'.format(err)

def pop_instance(self, argz, env):
    ps = argz[0]'InstanceRequest: {0}'.format(argz))
    if ps[0] != '/': raise TypeError, 'App path must be absolute'
    ps = os.path.realpath(ps)
    log.debug('Pulling out "{0}"'.format(ps))
        app = self.apps[ps]
        log.debug('App "{0}" exists, pulling to fg'.format(ps))
    except KeyError:
        log.debug('No app "{0}", starting'.format(ps))
        self.apps[ps] = AppInstance(argz, env, self.log)
        return 'Started'

Dead apps are collected on SIGCHLD and some extra precautions should be taken for the case when the signal arrives during the collector code execution, like when several apps die simultaneously:

def reap_apps(self, sig, frm):
    log.debug('Got app exit signal')
        locked = self.lock.acquire(False)
        self.lock_req = True # indicates that apps have to be re-checked
        if not locked:
            log.debug('Reap is in progress, re-check scheduled')

        while self.lock_req:
            self.lock_req = False
            log.debug('Reaping dead apps')
            for k,app in self.apps.iteritems():
                if app.dead:
                    del self.apps[k]
                    log.debug('App "{0}" was released'.format(k))

        if locked: self.lock.release()
        global loop_interrupt
        loop_interrupt = True
        log.debug('Reaper done')

That way, collector should run until signals stop arriving and shouldn't miss any app under any circumstances.

AppInstance objects incapsulate all operations concerning each app from starting it to focus and waitpid:

class AppInstance(object):
    _id = None # for debugging purposes only
    _ps = _win = None

    def __init__(self, argz, env, logfile=False):
        log.debug('Creating instance with argz: {0}'.format(argz))
        self._id = argz[0]
        self._ps = exe.proc( *argz,
            preexec_fn=os.setsid, env=env,
            stdout=logfile, stderr=exe.STDOUT, stdin=False )

    def show(self):
            for win in win.focus()
        else: log.debug('No window for app "{0}"'.format(self._id))

    def windows(self):
        if self._win is None:
            self._win = wm.Window.by_pid(
            if self._win: self._win = list(self._win) # all windows for pid
            else: self._win = False
        return self._win

    def dead(self):
        return self._ps.wait(0) is not None

WM ops here are from fgc package.

From here all that's left to code is to create dbus-handler instance and get the loop running.
I called the daemon itself as "sid" and the wrapper as "sic".

To make dbus aware of the service, short note should be put to "/usr/share/dbus-1/services/net.fraggod.SID.service" with path to daemon binary:

[D-BUS Service]
Exec=/usr/libexec/sid the hotkeys rebound from "myapp" to just "sic myapp" and the key-dock is ready.

Works especially well with WMs that can keep app windows' props between launches, so just pressing the relevant keys should launch every app where it belongs with correct window parameters and you won't have to do any WM-related work at all.


What can be more user-friendly than that? Gotta think about it...