Python – Flexible, Solid and Portable Service Discovery


I am looking for a way for clients in a LAN to find all the instances of my server application without any configuration. Instead of hacking something myself, I'd like to use an existing solution. Personally, I need it to be done in Python, but I'd happy to hear about solutions in any other language.

So why am I not using avahi or OpenSLP or some other Zeroconf/SLP solution? Well, there are a couple of additional criteria, and I'm under the impression neither of the aforementioned systems matches them.

I'm looking for a solution that is:

  • Flexible. It must not require superuser rights, i.e. only use ports>1024.
  • Solid. It must allow multiple services of the same and different service type on a single machine and continue advertising the services even when the instance that started the advertisement server stops or crashes.
  • Portable. It must run nearly everywhere, or at least on *BSD, Debian/gentoo/RedHat/SuSe Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris and Windows NT.
  • Light. Ideally, one Python script would be the whole solution. I'm not in the least interested in address autoconfiguration or something like that, although I'd begrudgingly accept a solution that has lots of features I don't need. Furthermore, any one-time setup is a strict no-no.

I expect something like this:

def registerService(service): # (type, port)
    if listen(multicast, someport):
        if fork() == child:
            services = [service]
            for q in queriesToMe():
                if q == DISCOVERY:
                    answer(filter(q.criteria, services))
                elif q == ADVERTISE and q.sender == "localhost":
        advertiseAt("localhost", service)

Best Solution

I wrote an application/library (currently Python and CLI interface) that matches all these critera. It's called minusconf. Turns out forking is not even necessary.