Friday, October 15, 2010

Java + Guava + Windows = Glitches

Some of my jSuneido tests started failing, some of them intermittently, but only on Windows. There were two problems, both related to deleting files.

The first was that deleting a directory in the tear down was failing every time. The test created the directory so I figured it probably wasn't permissions. I could delete the directory from Windows without any problems. The test ran fine in cSuneido.

I copied the Guava methods I was calling into my own class and added debugging. I tracked the problem down to Guava's Files.deleteDirectoryContents which is called by Files.deleteRecursively. It has the following:

// Symbolic links will have different canonical and absolute paths
if (!directory.getCanonicalPath().equals(directory.getAbsolutePath())) {

The problem was that getCanonicalPath and getAbsolutePath were returning slightly different values, even though there was no symbolic link involved - one had "jsuneido" and the other had "jSuneido". So the directory contents wasn't deleted so the directory delete failed. From the Windows Explorer and from the command line it was only "jsuneido". I even renamed the directed and renamed it back. I don't know where the upper case version was coming from. It could have been named that way sometime in the past. I suspect the glitch may come from remnants of the old short and long filename handling in Windows, perhaps in combination with the way Java implements these methods on Windows.

I ended up leaving the code copied into my own class with the problem lines removed. Not an ideal solution but I'm not sure what else to do.

My other thought at looking at this Guava code was that if that test was extracted into a separate method called something like isSymbolicLink, then the code would be clearer and they wouldn't need the comment. And that might make it slightly more likely that someone would try to come up with a better implementation.

The other problem was that new RandomAccessFile was failing intermittently when it followed file.delete. My guess is that Windows does some of the file deletion asynchronously and it doesn't always finish in time so the file creation fails because the file exists. The workaround was to do file.createNewFile before new RandomAccessFile. I'm not sure why this solves the problem, you'd think file.createNewFile would have the same problem. Maybe it calls some Windows API function that waits for pending deletes to finish. Again, not an ideal fix, but the best I could come up with.

Neither of these problems showed up on OS X. For the most part Java's write-once-run-anywhere has held true but there are always leaky abstractions.

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