Practically Correct, Just-in-Time Shell Script Parallelization


Konstantinos Kallas, University of Pennsylvania; Tammam Mustafa, MIT CSAIL; Jan Bielak, XIV Staszic High School; Dimitris Karnikis, Aarno Labs; Thurston H.Y. Dang, MIT CSAIL; Michael Greenberg, Stevens Institute of Technology; Nikos Vasilakis, MIT CSAIL


Recent shell-script parallelization systems enjoy mostly automated parallel speedups by compiling scripts ahead-of-time. Unfortunately, such static parallelization is hampered by the dynamic behaviors pervasive in shell scripts—e.g., variable expansion and command substitution—which often requires reasoning about the current state of the shell and filesystem.

We present a just-in-time (JIT) shell-script compiler, PaSh-JIT, that intermixes evaluation and parallelization during a script's run-time execution. JIT parallelization collects run-time information about the system’s state, but must not alter the behavior of the original script and must maintain minimal overhead. PaSh-JIT addresses these challenges by (1) using a dynamic interposition framework, guided by a static preprocessing pass, (2) developing runtime support for transparently pausing and resuming shell execution; and (3) operating as a stateful server, communicating with the current shell by passing messages—all without requiring modifications to the system's underlying shell interpreter.

When run on a wide variety of benchmarks, including the POSIX shell test suite, PaSh-JIT (1) does not break scripts, even in cases that are likely to break shells in widespread use; and (2) offers significant speedups, whenever parallelization is possible. These results show that PaSh-JIT can be used as a drop-in replacement for any non-interactive shell use, providing significant speedups without any risk of breakage.

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@inproceedings {280846,
author = {Konstantinos Kallas and Tammam Mustafa and Jan Bielak and Dimitris Karnikis and Thurston H.Y. Dang and Michael Greenberg and Nikos Vasilakis},
title = {Practically Correct, {Just-in-Time} Shell Script Parallelization},
booktitle = {16th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI 22)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-28-1},
address = {Carlsbad, CA},
pages = {769--785},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = jul,