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Test case for consumer starvation in ActiveMQ 5.x

This JUnit test intends to show how some slow or inactive queue destinations can starve consumers on other destinations in ActiveMQ.

The test uses three destinations: Dest1-no-consumer - has no consumer attached. Dest2-slow-consumer - has a slow consumer attached Dest3-fast-consumer - has a fast consumer attached

In addition the broker is configured for

<memoryUsage limit="10 mb" />

but does not configure for destination wide memory limits via the <policyEntry> config. That implies all destinations compete to use the brokers memory until the specified limit is reached. A broker wide memoryUsage limit of 10MB sounds unrealistic but is only used to reproduce the problem quickly. The same problem can be reproduced with any higher memoryLimit but will take longer.

Now with this configuration a producer connects to queue 'Dest1-no-consumer' and sends 7 messages a 1 MB. This moves the broker's MemoryPercentUsage JMX attribute to 70%, the magic limit at which a destination cursor stops to accept messages in its cache.

Once that producer has finished, a second producer connects to 'Dest2-slow-consumer' and a third producer just 500 msecs later connects to queue 'Dest3-fast-consumer'. Both send 30 messages a 1MB in a 3 second interval. Only thereafter are the consumers for these two destinations created. The time of these events ensures that the consumer for Dest2-slow-consumer connects to the broker first followed by the consumer for 'Dest3-fast-consumer'.

Because of the broker's MemoryPercentUsage being 70% after the 7 msgs sent to 'Dest1-no-consumer', the messages sent to the other two destinations will not be held in the cursor cache but will need to be loaded from the store at dispatch time. When the first consumer for queue 'Dest2-slow-consumer' connects, the broker will load maxPageSize messages from store to cursor cache. This makes the broker's memoryPercentUsage climb above 100%. It does not need to climb above 100%, above 70% is already enough for this problem to reproduce. When the second consumer for queue 'Dest3-fast-consumer' connects, the broker cannot load any more messages from its persistence store to the cursor cache because the broker's MemoryPercentUsage is already above 70%, the tipping point at which no more messages are loaded into the cursors. The consumer for queue 'Dest3-fast-consumer' gets starved and will not receive any messages, despite its queue not being empty. The consumer for 'Dest3-fast-consumer' will log this message repeatedly

I got starved and did not receive a message for queue Dest3-fast-consumer despite its queue size being 27

indicating that it did not receive a single message within the last 3 seconds interval.

This problem continues until the slow consumer for queue 'Dest2-slow-consumer' has consumed all 30 messages. And even thereafter the brokers MemoryPercentUsage may still be at 70% preventing the fast consumer to receive any messages.

To finally get the consumer for 'Dest3-fast-consumer' receive all of its messages, it is necessary to consume one single message from 'Dest1-no-consumer', so that the brokers MemoryPercentUsage decreases below 70% and now the cursor for queue 'Dest3-fast-consumer' can load more message from store into its cursor cache. That will finally make the consumer receive all messages from queue 'Dest3-fast-consumer'.

The important message to take away is that destinations with no or rather slow consumers may starve fast consumers on other destinations if no destination limit is configured on every destination. Setting a destination limit can prevent this problem. However in some situations this may still happen with destination limits in place but the problem is much less likely to occur then.

This all only applies to persistent queue messages only, not to non-persistent queue messages and not to topic messages where the cursors behave differently.


mvn clean test-compile


mvn test and carefully observe the logging output.