I need to upload IPC::PipeWorkers to CPAN. It handles Solution 2 quite efficiently.
One down side is that you can't fork a replacement child when one of your worker children dies. That motivated me to consider exactly your Solution 1. I spent a little time trying to work out the details of that. But I ended up abandoning the idea because of the huge increase in complexity involved.
Worker children disappearing turned out to never be much of a problem in practice. Also, it is wise for long-running daemons to periodically be restarted anyway, which means the rate of child death needs to be pretty high for it to end up mattering much.
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