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stale lock files


I have noticed GUI programs tend to be very inconsistent in behaviour
if I accidently kill them (e.g. by shutting down the X server) or
abort them (e.g. power failure).

For example:

gnucash (not tested newest version):

* displays a message box saying the file is locked, and asks if you
want to continue anyway.

* liferea: displays an error and terminates; the lock file must be
manually deleted.

* mozilla - occasionally will display a message that the profile is in
use, and won't let you reuse it until you delete the lock file. I am
not sure what triggers this condition.

In this era of making computers easier to use, forcing the user to
worry about cleaning up lock files like this seems very clumsy at
best, and can also be unreliable (e.g. I sometimes already do have a
copy of gnucash running, but I can't find it in the maze of windows,
and delete the lock file :-( ).

Is there any guidelines for checking for stale lock files in a sane
manner that doesn't involve the user?

Yes, I realize having a home directory on NFS or AFS or SMB might be
complications, but most users of these applications don't use these
protocols either.

Brian May <bam@debian.org>

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