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Manual Reference Pages  -  TIE::SHARELITE (3)

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Tie::ShareLite - Tied hash interface to IPC::ShareLite



  use Tie::ShareLite qw( :lock );

  $ipc = tie %shared, Tie::ShareLite, -key     => 1971,
                                        -mode    => 0600,
                                        -create  => yes,
                                        -destroy => no
    or die("Could not tie to shared memory: $!");

  $shared{myKey} = "This is stored in shared memory");

  $ipc->lock( LOCK_EX );
  $shared{var1} = some value;
  $shared{var2} = some other value;


Tie::ShareLite provides for a tied hash interface to the IPC::ShareLite module that is very similar to the one provided by IPC::Shareable. Only hashes can be tied at this time. The hashes can be of any complexity allowed by the Storable module, however, there are some caveats covered below in the REFERENCES section.

To tie a hash to shared memory, use the tie command:

  $ipc = tie %shared, Tie::ShareLite, -key     => 1971,
                                        -mode    => 0600,
                                        -create  => yes,
                                        -destroy => no
    or die("Could not tie to shared memory: $!");

Any parameters you pass (such as -key, -mode, -create, etc) are passed straight through to IPC::ShareLite. After this call, the contents of the hash %shared are now in shared memory, and the $ipc variable can be used to lock the memory segment.

To update the shared memory, simply assign something to it like you would any other hash:

  $shared{myKey} = "This is stored in shared memory");

Each read and write to the hash is atomic. In the background IPC::ShareLite makes sure that each process takes their turn.

You can make several operations atomic by calling lock() and unlock():

  $ipc->lock( LOCK_EX );
  $shared{var1} = some value;
  $shared{var2} = some other value;

I suggest locking any time you do multiple reads or writes. If you have a read or write operation in a loop, locking before the loop can speed things up a lot. This is because when a lock is in place, the module thaws the data from shared memory once and keeps it in memory until you unlock. The following code illustrates how this works. The comments show you what happens behind the scenes. fetch() means that the data is read from shared memory and thawed. store() means that the data is frozen, then written to shared memory. Both the fetch and store operations are relatively expensive, so reducing how many times they happen can speed up your code a lot.

  $shared{name}  = Fred;                  # fetch(), update, store()
  $shared{title} = Manager;               # fetch(), update, store()

  $ipc->lock( LOCK_EX );
  $shared{age}   = 45;                    # fetch(), update
  $shared{sex}   = male;                  # update
  $shared{dept}  = sales;                 # update
  $ipc->unlock();                             # store()

  print "Name:  " . $shared{name}  . "\n";  # fetch()
  print "Title: " . $shared{title} . "\n";  # fetch()

  $ipc->lock( LOCK_SH );
  print "Age:   " . $shared{age}   . "\n";  # fetch()
  print "Sex:   " . $shared{sex}   . "\n";
  print "Dept:  " . $shared{dept}  . "\n";

Tie::ShareLite will keep tabs on locks and smartly fetch and store the data only when needed.


lock( $mode ) Obtains a lock on the shared memory by calling IPC::ShareLite::lock().
unlock() Releases a lock on the shared memory by calling IPC::ShareLite::unlock().
shlock( $mode ) Calls lock(). Here for drop-in compatibility with IPC::Shareable.
shunlock() Calls unlock(). Here for drop-in compatibility with IPC::Shareable.


Storing references in tied hashes is not very well supported by Perl. There are a few gotchas that are not very obvious. When you say something like

  $shared{key}{subkey} = value;

Perl actually creates a real anonymous hash with nothing in it, assigns the reference of that hash to $shared{’key’}, then finally puts the subkey => value part into the anonymous hash. This anonymous hash only exist in the current process, and after the whole shared hash is serialized, that reference is lost. Plus the tied hash is never told about the change to the anonymouse hash. So in other words, it doesn’t work.

IPC::Shareable solved this problem by tying the anonymous hash as another shared hash. This has the downside of using up a lot of shared memory segments very fast. Plus it has some weird side effects that have caused me problems in the past. In this module, for now I have decided to forgo any kind of special hacks to get this to work. So if you want to share complex hashes then you have to copy the hash into local memory, access it as you want, then assign it back to the shared hash. Example:

  my $tmp = $shared{key};
  $tmp->{subkey} = value;
  $shared{key} = $tmp;

I would suggest putting the lock there, otherwise another process could change the contents of the ’key’ between when you read it, and when you write it back and thus your process would overwrite the others change.

Luckily, reads don’t have this problem and are much simpler:

  my $value = $shared{key}[subkey};

I have played around with a possible solution to this, but I have a feeling it would add some serious overhead that would slow the whole module down. I would be more than happy to hear from anyone that has found a clean solution to this.


Anything that IPC::ShareLite exports.


Copyright 2004, Nathan Shafer <>. All rights reserved.

This module is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.


Special thanks to Maurice Aubrey for his wonderful module, IPC::ShareLite.


perl, IPC::ShareLite.


Hey! <B>The above document had some coding errors, which are explained below:B>
Around line 115: You forgot a ’=back’ before ’=head1’
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perl v5.20.3 SHARELITE (3) 2004-08-03

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