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Resolving Selenium's Zombie Process Issue

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When working with Selenium in Python, developers often encounter a persistent issue: the generation of zombie processes. These defunct processes can significantly degrade server performance by consuming valuable system resources. This article addresses this common challenge and provides a practical solution.

Understanding the Issue

  • Zombie Processes: These are processes that have completed execution but still remain in the process table, typically because their parent process has not yet read their exit status. In a Linux environment, such processes are marked with a 'Z' and can be identified using commands like ps.

  • Example Scenario:

  root     32358  0.0  0.0      0     0 pts/0    Z    09:36   0:00 [chrome] <defunct>
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Implementing the Solution
The key to resolving this issue lies in modifying the WebDriver options used by Selenium. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Modifying WebDriver Options: Add the --no-zygote argument to the ChromeOptions in Selenium. This prevents the Chrome driver from initiating the Zygote process, which, although generally beneficial for performance and security, can inadvertently lead to zombie processes in certain environments.
   from selenium import webdriver

   options = webdriver.ChromeOptions()
   driver = webdriver.Chrome(options=options)
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Key Considerations

  • Selective Use: The --no-zygote option should be used judiciously, as it is only necessary in specific environments and scenarios.
  • Troubleshooting: Before applying this solution, it's advisable to check for other potential causes, like outdated drivers or inefficient coding practices.

The addition of the --no-zygote option in Selenium's ChromeOptions provides a straightforward and effective solution to the zombie process issue on Linux servers. By understanding and implementing this solution, developers can enhance the performance and reliability of their Selenium-based automation scripts.

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