If you peruse the archives of language-summit blogs, you’ll find that one theme comes up again and again : the dream of Python without the GIL. Continuing this venerable tradition, Sam Gross kicked off the 2022 Language Summit by giving the attendees an update on nogil, a project that took the Python community by storm when it was first announced in October 2021.
The GIL, or “Global Interpreter Lock”, is the key feature of Python that prevents true concurrency between threads. This is another way of saying that it makes it difficult to do multiple tasks simultaneously while only running a single Python process. Previously the main cheerleader for the project to remove the GIL was Larry Hastings, with his famous “Gilectomy” project. The Gilectomy project was ultimately abandoned due to the fact that it made single-threaded Python code significantly slower. But after seeing Gross’s proof-of-concept fork in October, Hastings wrote in an email to the python-dev mailing list:
Sam contacted me privately some time ago to pick my brain a little. But honestly, Sam didn’t need any help–he’d already taken the project further than I’d ever taken the Gilectomy.