Addressing now the point of the original poster, and speaking to the original poster not the esteemed monk, BrowserUK, I suggest that enough evidence has been gleaned from the various (useful...) responses to this thread to point the way to sleuthing-out the deficiency in the design of the original program. There is a timing hole, somewhere, in the application, and the objective is to
solve the damm thing make the application work properly. (The Perl Gods can do their magic on their own time; meanwhile, one must work with what one has.)
In my experience, the most probable cause of such a “once in a million” issue has to do with the order in which condition-variables are asserted and released. In much the same way that the Linux kernel stipulates that you must obtain this lock before you may obtain that one, the mutual-exclusion controls within the application should be arranged in a definite hierarchy. Each of the alternative paths through the application which employ mutual-exclusion must be hand-examined in this way. Furthermore, if you find yourself releasing one condition and in the very next statements grabbing another one, this practice probably should be avoided: devise some exclusion control that covers both.
Mutual exclusion mechanisms cover two distinct but useful purposes: not only do they regulate simultaneous access to a single atomic resource, but they also and more usefully can be employed to compel programs that need to shuffle between several resources to do that “shuffling” in only certain selected code-paths and therefore only in a known-in-advance timing sequence. If x code-paths are manipulating y resources, then you can wind up with x^y possible combinations between them, and that’s just too many possibilities to manage. Select a handful of reasonable sequences for the work, and oblige the programs who are doing it to grab some kind of semaphore to serialize their passage through it.
Even if the mutual-exclusion tools are “buried” within nice, safe, well-tested (as they certainly are...) perlguts, the essential principle remains: you have an application to write. Even if some bizzare, not yet found bug still exists in those “guts,” you have to devise this application so as to stay well clear of any of them. HTH.
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