Migrating off of Eventlet

There are two main use cases for Eventlet:

  1. As a required networking framework, much like one would use asyncio, trio, or older frameworks like Twisted and tornado.

  2. As an optional, pluggable backend that allows swapping out blocking APIs for an event loop, transparently, without changing any code. This is how Celery and Gunicorn use eventlet.

Pretending to look like a blocking API while actually using an event loop underneath requires exact emulation of an ever-changing and ever-increasing API footprint, which is fundamentally unsustainable for a volunteer-driven open source project. This is why Eventlet is discouraging new users.

Most of this document will focus on the first use case: Eventlet as the sole networking framework. For this use case, we recommend migrating to Python’s asyncio, and we are providing infrastructure that will make this much easier, and allow for gradual migration.

For the second use case, we believe this is a fundamentally unsustainable approach and encourage the upstream frameworks to come up with different solutions.

Step 1. Switch to the asyncio Hub

Eventlet has different pluggable networking event loops. By switching the event loop to use asyncio, you enable running asyncio and Eventlet code in the same thread in the same process.

To do so, set the EVENTLET_HUB environment variable to asyncio before starting your Eventlet program. For example, if you start your program with a shell script, you can do export EVENTLET_HUB=asyncio.

Alternatively, you can explicitly specify the asyncio hub at startup, before monkey patching or any other setup work:

import eventlet.hubs
eventlet.hubs.use_hub("eventlet.hubs.asyncio")

Step 2. Migrate code to asyncio

Now that you’re running Eventlet on top of asyncio, you can use some new APIs to call from Eventlet code into asyncio, and vice-versa.

To call asyncio code from Eventlet code, you can wrap a coroutine (or anything you can await) into an Eventlet GreenThread. For example, if you want to make a HTTP request from Eventlet, you can use the asyncio-based aiohttp library:

import aiohttp
from eventlet.asyncio import spawn_for_awaitable

async def request():
    async with aiohttp.ClientSession() as session:
        url = "https://example.com"
        async with session.get(url) as response:
            html = await response.text()
            return html


# This makes a coroutine; typically you'd ``await`` it:
coro = request()

# You can wrap this coroutine with an Eventlet GreenThread, similar to
# ``evenlet.spawn()``:
gthread = spawn_for_awaitable(request())

# And then get its result, the body of https://example.com:
result = gthread.wait()

In the other direction, any eventlet.greenthread.GreenThread can be await-ed in async functions. In other words async functions can call into Eventlet code:

def blocking_eventlet_api():
    eventlet.sleep(1)
    # do some other pseudo-blocking work
    # ...
    return 12

async def my_async_func():
    gthread = eventlet.spawn(blocking_eventlet_api)
    # In normal Eventlet code we'd call gthread.wait(), but since this is an
    # async function we'll want to await instead:
    result = await gthread
    # result is now 12
    # ...

Cancellation of asyncio.Future and killing of eventlet.GreenThread should propagate between the two.

Using these two APIs, with more to come, you can gradually migrate portions of your application or library to asyncio. Calls to blocking APIs like urlopen() or requests.get() can get replaced with calls to aiohttp, for example.

The awesome-asyncio github repository propose a curated list of awesome Python asyncio frameworks, libraries, software and resources. Do not hesitate to take a look at it. You may find candidates compatible with asyncio that can allow you to replace some of your actual underlying libraries.

Step 3. Drop Eventlet altogether

Eventually you won’t be relying on Eventlet at all: all your code will be asyncio-based. At this point you can drop Eventlet and switch to running the asyncio loop directly.

Known limitations and work in progress

In general, async functions and Eventlet green threads are two separate universes that just happen to be able to call each other.

In async functions:

  • Eventlet thread locals probably won’t work correctly.

  • evenlet.greenthread.getcurrent() won’t give the result you expect.

  • eventlet locks and queues won’t work if used directly.

  • Eventlet multiple readers are not supported, and so using eventtlet.debug.hub_prevent_multiple_readers neither.

In Eventlet greenlets:

  • asyncio locks won’t work if used directly.

We expect to add more migration and integration APIs over time as we learn more about what works, common idioms, and requirements for migration. You can track progress in the GitHub issue, and file new issues if you have problems.

Alternatives

If you really want to continue with Eventlet’s pretend-to-be-blocking approach, you can use gevent. But keep in mind that the same technical issues that make Eventlet maintenance unsustainable over the long term also apply to Gevent.