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Copilot Lvl 2
Message 1 of 6

forked process in one run stalls other runs

I had some CI configured in such a way, that a certain process is run for x minutes, and then its results inspected. How I was doing it was by having it start forked in one run, sleep in another run (which was dynamic depending on base ref), and then kill in a run thereafter. All worked fine, until about yesterday.

Here's the simplest workflow example:

name: broken_ci
  - push
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      image: ubuntu
    - uses: actions/checkout@v1
    - name: forked job
      run: |
        apt update && apt install -y iputils-ping
        ping > /tmp/ping.out &
        echo "this will echo"
    - name: this is never reached
      run: echo "i dont get echoed ever"

This issue is specific to running in containers. Without a container, it works as expected and as it used to even in containers.

One work around I currently have is adding

        sleep 60 && pkill ping &

to the same run of the forked process (basically at the end of the "forked job" run).

5 Replies
GitHub Partner
Message 2 of 6

Re: forked process in one run stalls other runs

Thank you for reporting this issue. I could reproduce it in my side. I have directed this scenario to the appropriate engineering team for further evaluation. Let's wait for their response. 

Pilot Lvl 1
Message 3 of 6

Re: forked process in one run stalls other runs

Could this be related to the Docker environment not having a real init process, and zombie processes not getting collected? I had a similar issue with a test script written in Python that (simplified) does the following:

  1. Start an Apache HTTPD instance
  2. Run some test requests
  3. Tell the server to stop
  4. Wait for the server process to disappear from the process table

Step four never completed, because the server double forks during start by default, making the main service a zombie process on exit, and without an init process to reap it it remained in the process table indefinitely. With the Apache server I could work around that issue by telling it not to fork ("-DFOREGROUND" option), so my Python script can do a proper wait() and avoid the zombie process issue. The similarity is that your ping will become a orphan process when the shell running the "run:" block exits.


Maybe you can do something similar as a workaround, e.g. a Python script like this?

import subprocess
import time

process = subprocess.Popen(['your', 'command', 'here'])


Copilot Lvl 2
Message 4 of 6

Re: forked process in one run stalls other runs

The issue is that the behaviour is inconsistent. It worked fine, months and weeks ago, and only a few days ago it started acting like this, effectively breaking a bunch of my CI unless I hack around with it. It is not a docker environment issue, as my local docker environment behaviour matches how things used to work, and the non-container github actions environment.

GitHub Partner
Message 5 of 6

Re: forked process in one run stalls other runs

Sorry to tell you that I haven't heard from github actions team till now , please try to add 

sleep 60 && pkill ping &

as temporary workaround. I will try to contact to github actions team again. Thank you for your understanding. 

Copilot Lvl 2
Message 6 of 6

Re: forked process in one run stalls other runs

Also seeing this behaviour. Any updates from the team would be greatly appreciated!