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= ApplicationPool algorithm
== Introduction
For efficiency reasons, Passenger keeps a pool spawned Rails/Ruby applications.
Please read the C++ API documentation for the ApplicationPool class for a full
introduction. This document describes an algorithm for managing the pool, in a
high-level way.
The algorithm should strive to keep spawning to a minimum.
== Definitions
=== Vocabulary
- "Application root":
The toplevel directory in which an application is contained. For Rails
application, this is the same as RAILS_ROOT, i.e. the directory that contains
"app/", "public/", etc. For a Rack application, this is the directory that
contains "".
- "Active application process":
An application process that has more than 0 sessions.
=== Types
Most of the types that we use in this document are pretty standard. But we
explicitly define some special types:
- list<SomeType>
A doubly linked list which contains elements of type SomeType. It supports
all the usual list operations that one can expect from a linked list, like
add_to_back(), etc.
We assume that operations that insert an element into the list return an
iterator object. An iterator object is an opaque object which represents a
specific position in the list; it probably contains the links to the previous
and the next iterator, as well as a reference to the actual list element,
depending on the list implementation.
The following operations deserve special mention:
* remove(iterator)
Removes the specified element from the list, as represented by the given
iterator. This operation can be done in O(1) time.
* move_to_front(iterator)
Moves the specified element - as represented by the given iterator - to
the front of the list. This operation can be done in O(1) time.
- Group
A compound type (class) which contains information about an application root,
such as the application processes that have been spawned for this application
A Group has the following members:
* name (string):
This group's key in the _groups_ map of the application pool.
* app_root (string):
This group's application root. Note that it is *not* guaranteed that all
ProcessInfo objects in _processes_ have the same application root.
* processes (list<ProcessInfo>):
A list of ProcessInfo objects.
processes is non-empty.
for all 0 <= i < processes.size() - 1:
processes[i].group_name == name
if processes[i].process is active:
processes[i + 1].process is active
* size (unsigned integer):
The number of items in _processes_.
if !detached:
size == processes.size()
* max_requests (unsigned integer):
The maximum number of requests that each application process in
this group may process. After having processed this
many requests, the application process will be shut down.
A value of 0 indicates that there is no maximum.
* min_processes (unsigned integer):
The minimum number of processes that the cleaner thread should keep in
this group. Defaults to 0.
* spawning (boolean): Whether a background thread is currently spawning
a new process for this group.
* spawner_thread: A handle to the background thread that is currently
spawning a new process. Only valid if _spawning_ is true.
* detached (boolean): If true, then it indicates that this Group is
no longer accessible via _groups_.
Set to false by the constructor.
(detached) == (This Group is accessible via _groups_.)
if detached:
for all process_info objects p that have once been in this.processes:
* environment (string): Does nothing. Data is stored in memory for analytics
- ProcessInfo
A compound type (class) which contains a reference to an application process
object, as well as various metadata, such as iterators for various linked
lists. These iterators make it possible to perform actions on the linked
lists in O(1) time.
A ProcessInfo has the following members:
* process - A process object, representing an application process.
* group_name (string) - The name of the group that this ProcessInfo belongs
* identifier (string) - A key that uniquely identifies this ProcessInfo in
this application pool. This key allows external processes to refer to a
specific ProcessInfo object without knowing its memory pointer. It's set
to a random string by ProcessInfo's constructor.
* start_time (timestamp with milisecond resolution) - The time at which this
application process was started. It's set to the current time by the
* processed_requests (integer) - The number of requests processed by this
application instance so far. Set to 0 by the constructor.
* last_used (time) - The last time a session for this application process
was opened or closed.
* sessions (integer) - The number of open sessions for this application
process. It's set to 0 by the constructor.
(sessions == 0 && !detached) == (This ProcessInfo is in inactive_apps.)
* iterator - The iterator for this ProcessInfo in the linked list
* ia_iterator - The iterator for this ProcessInfo in the linked list
inactive_apps. This iterator is only valid if this ProcessInfo really is
in that list.
* detached (boolean) - If true, then it indicates that this ProcessInfo is
no longer accessible via _groups_; this implies that it's no longer
contained in its associated Group's _processes_ member, a), and that
_iterator_ and _ia_iterator_ are no longer valid.
Set to false by the constructor.
(detached) == (This ProcessInfo is accessible via _groups_.)
- PoolOptions
A structure containing additional information used by the spawn manager's
spawning process, as well as by the get() function.
A PoolOptions has at least the following members:
* app_group_name (string) - A name which is used to group application
processes together.
* max_requests (unsigned integer) - The maximum number of requests that the
application process may process. After having processed this many requests,
the application process will be shut down. A value of 0 indicates that there
is no maximum.
* min_processes (unsigned integer) - The minimum number of processes for the
current group that the cleaner thread should keep around.
* use_global_queue (boolean) - Whether to use a global queue for all
application processes, or a queue that's private to the application process.
The users guide explains this feature in more detail.
* restart_dir (string) - The directory in which the algorithm should look for
restart.txt and always_restart.txt. The existance and modification times of
these files tell the algorithm whether an application should be restarted.
* environment (string) - The environment (RAILS_ENV/RACK_ENV) in which the app
should run.
=== Special functions
- spawn(app_root, options)
Spawns a new application process at the given application root with the given
spawn options. Throws an exception if something went wrong. This function is
thread-safe. Note that application process initialization can take an arbitrary
amount of time.
=== Instance variables
The algorithm requires the following instance variables for storing state
- lock: mutex
This lock is used for implementing thread-safetiness. We assume that it
is non-recursive, i.e. if a thread locks a mutex that it has already locked,
then it will result in a deadlock.
- groups: map[string => Group]
Maps an application root to its Group object. This map contains all
application processes in the pool.
for all values g in groups:
g.size <= count
for all i in g.processes:
(sum of all g.size in groups) == count
- max: integer
The maximum number of ProcessInfo objects that may exist in the pool.
- max_per_app: integer
The maximum number of ProcessInfo objects that may be simultaneously alive
for a single Group.
- count: integer
The current number of ProcessInfo objects in the pool.
Since 'max' can be set dynamically during the life time of an application
pool, 'count > max' is possible.
- active: integer
The number of application processes in the pool that are active.
active <= count
- inactive_apps: list<ProcessInfo>
A linked list of ProcessInfo objects. All application processes in this list
are inactive.
inactive_apps.size() == count - active
for all x in inactive_apps:
x can be accessed from _groups_.
x.sessions == 0
- waiting_on_global_queue: integer
If global queuing mode is enabled, then when get() is waiting for a backend
process to become idle, this variable will be incremented. When get() is done
waiting, this variable will be decremented.
== Class relations
Here's an UML diagram in ASCII art:
[ProcessInfo] 1..* --------+
[ApplicationPool] [Group]
1 0..*
| |
== Algorithm in pseudo code
# Thread-safetiness notes:
# - All wait commands are to unlock the lock during waiting.
# Connect to an existing application process, or spawn a new application process
# and connect to that if necessary.
# 'app_root' refers to an application root.
# 'options' is an object of type 'PoolOptions', which contains additional
# information which may be relevant for spawning.
# Returns a Session object, representing a single HTTP request/response pair.
function get(app_root, options):
attempt = 0
while (true):
process_info, group = checkout_without_lock(app_root, options)
return process_info.process.connect()
on exception:
# The app process seems to have crashed.
# So we remove this process from our data
# structures.
if (attempt == MAX_ATTEMPTS):
propagate exception
# Detach the process with the given identifier from the pool's data structures.
function detach(identifier):
return detach_without_lock(identifier)
# Checkout a process from the application pool and mark it as being used.
# If there's no appropriate process in the pool, or if there are not
# enough processes, then one will be spawned.
# Returns a pair of [ProcessInfo, Group].
# All exceptions that occur are propagated.
private function checkout_without_lock(app_root, options):
group = groups[options.app_group_name]
if needs_restart(app_root, options):
Tell spawn server to reload code for options.app_group_name.
if (group != null):
group = null
if (group != null):
# There are existing processes for this app group.
processes = group.processes
if (processes.front.sessions == 0):
# There is an inactive process, so we use it.
process_info = processes.front
mutate_max(active + 1)
# All existing processes are active. We either use
# one of them now or we wait until one of them becomes
# available. And, if we're allowed to, we spawn an
# extra process in the background.
if spawning_allowed(group, options) and !group.spawning:
spawn_in_background(group, options)
process_info = select_process(processes, options)
if (process_info == null):
goto beginning of function
# There are no processes for this app group.
if (active >= max):
# Looks like the pool is full and all processes are busy.
# Wait until the pool appears to have changed in such a
# way that we can spawn a new app group, and restart
# this function.
goto beginning of function
elsif count >= max:
# The pool is full, and not all processes are busy, but
# we're in a though situation nevertheless: there are
# several processes which are inactive, and none of them
# belong to our current app group, so we must kill one
# of them in order to free a spot in the pool. But which
# one do we kill? We want to minimize spawning.
# It's probably a good idea to keep some kind of
# statistics in order to decide this. We want the
# application root that gets the least traffic to be
# killed. But for now, we kill a random application
# process.
process_info = inactive_apps.pop_front
process_info.detached = true
group = groups[process_info.group_name]
processes = group.processes
if processes.empty():
mutate_count(count - 1)
process_info = new ProcessInfo
process_info.process = spawn(app_root, options)
process_info.group_name = options.app_group_name
group = new Group = options.app_group_name
group.app_root = app_root
group.size = 1
groups[options.app_group_name] = group
iterator = group.processes.add_to_back(process_info)
process_info.iterator = iterator
mutate_count(count + 1)
mutate_active(active + 1)
if (options.min_processes > 1) and spawning_allowed(group, options):
spawn_in_background(group, options)
group.max_requests = options.max_requests
group.min_processes = options.min_processes
group.environment = options.environment
process_info.last_used = current_time()
return [process_info, group]
private function mutate_active(value):
if (value < active):
active = value
private function mutate_count(value):
# No point in notifying new_app_group_creatable here;
# if _count_ is being increased then that means the pool
# isn't full, and nobody is waiting on
# new_app_group_creatable.
count = value
private function mutate_max(value):
if (value > max):
# We will want any code waiting on the global queue
# to go ahead and spawn another process.
max = value
private function needs_restart(app_root, options):
if (options.restart_dir is not set):
restart_dir = app_root + "/tmp"
else if (options.restart_dir is an absolute path):
restart_dir = options.restart_dir
restart_dir = app_root + "/" + options.restart_dir
return (file_exists("$restart_dir/always_restart.txt")) or
(we haven't seen "$restart_dir/restart.txt" before) or
("$restart_dir/restart.txt" changed since the last time we checked)
private function spawning_allowed(group, options):
return ( count < max ) and
( (max_per_app == 0) or (group.size < max_per_app) )
# Precondition: !group.detached
private function detach_group_without_lock(group):
for all process_info in group.processes:
if (process_info.sessions == 0):
mutate_active(active - 1)
process_info.detached = true
mutate_count(count - 1)
if (group.spawning):
group.spawner_thread = null
group.spawning = false
group.detached = true
private function select_process(processes, options):
if options.use_global_queue:
# So we wait until _active_ has changed, then
# we restart this function and try again.
return null
# So we connect to an already active process.
# This connection will be put into that
# process's private queue.
process_info = an element in _processes_ with the smallest _session_ value
return process_info
# Preconditions:
# !group.detached
# !group.spawning
private function spawn_in_background(group, options):
group.spawning = true
group.spawner_thread = new thread(spawner_thread_callback,
with these arguments to the thread function:
group, options)
private function spawner_thread_callback(group, options):
Ignore thread interruptions in this function
while true:
Allow thread interruptions in this block
process = spawn(app_root, options)
on thread interruption:
group.spawning = false
group.spawner_thread = null
on exception:
if (!group.detached):
group.spawning = false
group.spawner_thread = null
# We want to report the error to the browser
# but there's no way to do this in this thread, so
# we just remove the entire group and have the next
# get() call spawn the process and display the
# error.
if (group.detached):
process_info = new ProcessInfo
process_info.process = process
process_info.group_name = options.app_group_name
process_info.iterator = group.processes.add_to_front(process_info)
process_info.ia_iterator = inactive_apps.add_to_back(process_info)
mutate_count(count + 1)
if (group.size >= options.min_processes) or
(!spawning_allowed(group, options)):
group.spawning = false
group.spawner_thread = null
private function detach_without_lock(identifier):
for group in groups:
processes = group.processes
for process_info in processes:
if process_info.identifier == identifier:
# Found a matching process.
process_info.detached = true
if processes.empty():
if process_info.sessions == 0:
mutate_active(active - 1)
mutate_count(count - 1)
return true
return false
# The following function is to be called when a session has been closed.
# _process_info_ is a weak reference to the ProcessInfo that belongs to
# the process whose session has been closed; it evaluates to NULL if the
# ProcessInfo object that it belongs to has been destroyed.
callback session_has_been_closed(session, process_info):
Convert process_info into a normal reference.
# We check process_info.detached without locking. This should be safe:
# even if a boolean update isn't atomic on the current CPU, a non-zero
# value evaluates to true. Once true, _detached_ will never become false,
# so instruction reorderings by the compiler or CPU won't cause any
# damage.
if (process_info == null) or (process_info.detached):
if process_info.detached:
group = groups[process_info.group_name]
processes = group.processes
if (group.max_requests > 0) and (process_info.processed >= group.max_requests):
# The application process has processed its maximum allowed
# number of requests, so we shut it down.
process_info.detached = true
if processes.empty():
mutate_count(count - 1)
if (process_info.sessions == 0):
mutate_active(active - 1)
process_info.last_used = current_time()
if (process_info.sessions == 0):
process_info.ia_iterator = inactive_apps.add_to_back(process_info)
mutate_active(active - 1)
# The following thread will be responsible for cleaning up idle application
# process, i.e. processes that haven't been used for a while.
# This can be disabled per app when setting it's maxIdleTime to 0.
thread cleaner:
while true:
# If MAX_IDLE_TIME is 0 we don't clean up any processes,
# giving us the option to persist the processes
# forever unless it's killed in order to free up space
# for another process.
if (MAX_IDLE_TIME == 0):
Wait until the thread has been signalled to quit
or until MAX_IDLE_TIME changed.
if thread has been signalled to quit:
restart loop
Wait until MAX_IDLE_TIME seconds have passed,
or until the thread has been signalled to quit,
or until MAX_IDLE_TIME changed.
if thread has been signalled to quit:
else if MAX_IDLE_TIME changed:
restart loop
# Invariant:
# From this point on, MAX_IDLE_TIME > 0
now = current_time()
for all process_info in inactive_apps:
if (now - process_info.last_used > MAX_IDLE_TIME):
process = process_info.process
group = groups[process_info.group_name]
if (group.size > group.min_processes):
processes = group.processes
process_info.detached = true
mutate_count(count - 1)
if processes.empty():
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