2015-05-01 02:59
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In go, how can I control the concurrent writing to a text file?

I ask this because I will have multiple goroutines writing to a text file using the same file handler.

I wrote this bit of code to try and see what happens but I'm not sure if I did it "right":

package main

import (

func WriteToFile( i int, f *os.File, w *sync.WaitGroup ){
    //sleep for either 200 or 201 milliseconds
    randSleep := int( math.Floor( 200 + ( 2 * rand.Float64() ) ) )
    fmt.Printf( "Thread %d waiting %d
", i, randSleep )
    time.Sleep( time.Duration(randSleep) * time.Millisecond )

    //write to the file
    fmt.Fprintf( f, "Printing out: %d
", i )
    //write to stdout
    fmt.Printf( "Printing out: %d
", i )

func main() {
    rand.Seed( time.Now().UnixNano() )

    d, err := os.Getwd()
    if err != nil {
        fmt.Println( err )
    filename := d + "/log.txt"

    f, err := os.OpenFile( filename, os.O_CREATE | os.O_WRONLY | os.O_TRUNC, 0666 )

    if err != nil {
        fmt.Println( err )
    var w *sync.WaitGroup = new(sync.WaitGroup)
    w.Add( 10 )

    //start 10 writers to the file
    for i:=1; i <= 10; i++ {
        go WriteToFile( i, f, w )

    //wait for writers to finish


I half expected that the output would show something like this in the file instead of the coherent output I got:

Printing Printing out: 2
out: 5
Poriuntitng: 6

Essentially, I expected the characters to come out incoherently and interweaved due to a lack of synchronization. Did I not write code that would coax this behavior out? Or is some mechanism during calls to fmt.Fprintf synchronizing the writing?

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  • doue2666 2015-05-01 03:46

    There are many ways to control concurrent access. The easiest is to use a Mutex:

    var mu sync.Mutex
    func WriteToFile( i int, f *os.File, w *sync.WaitGroup ){
        defer mu.Unlock()
        // etc...

    As to why you're not seeing problems, Go uses operating system calls to implement file access, and those system calls are thread safe (emphasis added):

    According to POSIX.1-2008/SUSv4 Section XSI 2.9.7 ("Thread Interactions with Regular File Operations"):

    All of the following functions shall be atomic with respect to each other in the effects specified in POSIX.1-2008 when they operate on regular files or symbolic links: ...

    Among the APIs subsequently listed are write() and writev(2). And among the effects that should be atomic across threads (and processes) are updates of the file offset. However, on Linux before version 3.14, this was not the case: if two processes that share an open file description (see open(2)) perform a write() (or writev(2)) at the same time, then the I/O operations were not atomic with respect updating the file offset, with the result that the blocks of data output by the two processes might (incorrectly) overlap. This problem was fixed in Linux 3.14.

    I would still use a lock though, since Go code is not automatically thread safe. (two goroutines modifying the same variable will result in strange behavior)

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