We have set up a server to convert pptx files to pdf files using LibreOffice
(version: 18.104.22.168 ). Libreoffice is started using
subprocess.run() command in
Python. The external command I use is something like the following1:
soffice --headless --convert-to pdf test.pptx
If the client requests this service concurrently, some of the request will fail
with no result. The weird part is that
subprocess.run() will not report any
errors. It is just that we can not convert pptx to pdf. If the client only
request the service one pptx file after another, there is no error in getting
the result. It seems that libreoffice can not handle multiple concurrent
I captured the stdout and stderr from the external command:
subprocess.run(command_list, timeout=5, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
I find that although the command is executed without error (r.check_status()
runs without error),
r.stderr will be empty when no pdf is
So I add a retry strategy. If the
r.stdout is empty, we will try at most
three times to re-run the subprocess command. This reduces the failure numbers
for concurrent requests, but there are still quite a lot of failures.
Since one instance of libreoffice is limited in its concurrent handling of requests, why not deploy multiple instances of libreoffice? So we isolate the relevant code to generate from pptx to pdf as a separate service and deploy it in multiple docker containers. When new requests comes, it will be distributed evenly to different instances of this services. To handle more concurrent requests, we just need to deploy more docker containers. After this step, the failure rates drops to negligible count.
It seems that there is another way to solve this issue by spawning multiple LibreOffice instances in the same server, as documented here.
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