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you could look at lpty

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Subject: popen in non-blocking mode
Sent: Tue, 06 Dec 2011
From: Joe McEachern

We are running an external process using io.popen(). Something like ...
 ecom = assert(io.popen(cmd, 'r'))
Is there a way to setup non-blocking reads with this type of interface? Or do other lua modules offer more control? What we've seen is that our read() command will block if the external process does not have any data to return. We need a strategy to make this non-blocking.
Thanks for any suggestions,

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