Tomer Gabel's annoying spot on the 'net RSS 2.0
# Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Our test code makes extensive use of a lightweight web server implementation based on the .NET 2.0 HttpListener class (I'll write a separate post on this, source code included, in the near future). The web server implementation randomizes an incoming port and exposes its URI via a property; this is done for two reasons: to avoid conflicts with other listeners on the machine, and to facilitate multi-threading test runners (like TestDriven.NET). Even with a serial test-runner (like ReSharper's unit test driver, which is what most of us at Semingo use) this means that for an average test suite a large number of web-server instances are initiated and disposed of in very rapid succession. Our implementation creates each web server on its own dedicated port (using Socket.Bind to make sure that the port is free), and closes the listener via HttpListener.Abort when the test ends.

Although the entire test suite seems to run fine locally (both via ReSharper's test runner and using NUnit-Console), at some point we started getting strange errors from our continuous integration server:

System.Net.HttpListenerException : Failed to listen on prefix 'http://+:40275/' because it conflicts with an existing registration on the machine.

I verified this by running the tests with NUnit-Console on the CI server and it was consistent (but only on that server). Since the only instances of HttpListener used throughout the test suite are those used by the test web servers, this means that HttpListener.Abort does not properly unregister its own prefixes. Since the documentation for HttpListener is rather sparse and I couldn't find any mention of this issue on the web, I eventually went the Reflector route. Check out the Reflector decompiler output for both HttpListener.Dispose (called via Close) and HttpListener.Abort methods:



if (this.m_State != State.Closed)
    this.m_RequestHandleBound = false;
    this.m_State = State.Closed; 
if (this.m_RequestQueueHandle != null)
this.m_RequestHandleBound = false;
this.m_State = State.Closed;

The primary difference is the call to HttpListener.Stop. Here's a code snippet from that method:

if (this.m_State != State.Stopped)
    this.m_RequestHandleBound = false;
    this.m_State = State.Stopped;

I'll spare you the hunt and point the problem out. There are two tangible differences between the two calls:

  1. HttpListener.Close closes the request queue handle (which is used in calls to the native HTTP API) whereas HttpListener.Abort aborts it. I didn't delve into this but the semantics seem to be the same as for the HttpListener itself.
  2. HttpListener.Close calls RemoveAll before disposing of the queue handle, presumably in order to stop accepting incoming requests.

In order to solve the problem, you can either remove the prefixes manually, or call the internal method like so:

"RemoveAll", BindingFlags.NonPublic | BindingFlags.InvokeMethod | BindingFlags.Instance, null, listener, new object[] { false } );
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 7:40:26 PM (Jerusalem Standard Time, UTC+02:00)  #    -
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