Varnish can be a tricky beast to debug, having potentially thousands of threads crowding into a few data structures makes for interesting core dumps.
Actually, let me rephrase that without irony: You tire of the “no, not thread 438 either, lets look at 439 then…” routine really fast.
So if you run into a bug, it is important that you spend a little bit of time collecting the right information, to help us fix the bug.
The most valuable information you can give us, is always how to trigger and reproduce the problem. If you can tell us that, we rarely need anything else to solve it.The caveat being, that we do not have a way to simulate high levels of real-life web-traffic, so telling us to “have 10.000 clients hit at once” does not really allow us to reproduce.
To report a bug please follow the suggested procedure described in the “Trouble Tickets” section of the documentation (above).
Roughly we categorize bugs in to three kinds of bugs (described below) with Varnish. The information we need to debug them depends on what kind of bug we are facing.
Plain and simple: boom
Varnish is split over two processes, the manager and the child. The child does all the work, and the manager hangs around to resurrect it if it crashes.
Therefore, the first thing to do if you see a Varnish crash, is to examine your syslogs to see if it has happened before. (One site is rumoured to have had Varnish restarting every 10 minutes and still provide better service than their CMS system.)
When it crashes, which is highly unlikely to begin with, Varnish will spew out a crash dump that looks something like:
Child (32619) died signal=6 (core dumped) Child (32619) Panic message: Assert error in ccf_panic(), cache_cli.c line 153: Condition(!strcmp("", "You asked for it")) not true. errno = 9 (Bad file descriptor) thread = (cache-main) ident = FreeBSD,9.0-CURRENT,amd64,-sfile,-hcritbit,kqueue Backtrace: 0x42bce1: pan_ic+171 0x4196af: ccf_panic+4f 0x8006b3ef2: _end+80013339a 0x8006b4307: _end+8001337af 0x8006b8b76: _end+80013801e 0x8006b8d84: _end+80013822c 0x8006b51c1: _end+800134669 0x4193f6: CLI_Run+86 0x429f8b: child_main+14b 0x43ef68: start_child+3f8 [...]
If you can get that information to us, we are usually able to see exactly where things went haywire, and that speeds up bugfixing a lot.
There will be a lot more information in the crash dump besides this, and before sending it all to us, you should obscure any sensitive/secret data/cookies/passwords/ip# etc. Please make sure to keep context when you do so, ie: do not change all the IP# to “X.X.X.X”, but change each IP# to something unique, otherwise we are likely to be more confused than informed.
The most important line is the “Panic Message”, which comes in two general forms:
- “Missing errorhandling code in …”
This is a situation where we can conceive Varnish ending up, which we have not (yet) written the padded-box error handling code for.
The most likely cause here, is that you need a larger workspace for HTTP headers and Cookies.
Please try that before reporting a bug.
- “Assert error in …”
This is something bad that should never happen, and a bug report is almost certainly in order. As always, if in doubt ask us on IRC before opening the ticket.
In your syslog it may all be joined into one single line, but if you can reproduce the crash, do so while running varnishd manually:
varnishd -d <your other arguments> |& tee /tmp/_catch_bug
That will get you the entire panic message into a file.
(Remember to type
start to launch the worker process, that is not
-d is used.)
Varnish goes on vacation¶
This kind of bug is nasty to debug, because usually people tend to kill the process and send us an email saying “Varnish hung, I restarted it” which gives us only about 1.01 bit of usable debug information to work with.
What we need here is all the information you can squeeze out of your operating system before you kill the Varnish process.
One of the most valuable bits of information, is if all Varnish’ threads are waiting for something or if one of them is spinning furiously on some futile condition.
top -H or
ps -Haxlw or
ps -efH should be
able to figure that out.
If one or more threads are spinning, use
(or whatever else your OS provides) to get a trace of which system calls
the Varnish process issues. Be aware that this may generate a lot
of very repetitive data, usually one second worth of data is more than enough.
When you have done this, kill the Varnish child process, and let the master process restart it. Remember to tell us if that does or does not work. If it does not, kill all Varnish processes, and start from scratch. If that does not work either, tell us, that means that we have wedged your kernel.
Varnish does something wrong¶
These are the easy bugs: usually all we need from you is the relevant transactions recorded with varnishlog and your explanation of what is wrong about what Varnish does.
Be aware, that often Varnish does exactly what you asked it to, rather than what you intended it to do. If it sounds like a bug that would have tripped up everybody else, take a moment to read through your VCL and see if it really does what you think it does.
You can also try setting the
vsl_mask=+VCL_trace parameter (or use
varnishadm param.set vsl_mask +VCL_trace on a running instance),
that will generate log records with like and character number for each
statement executed in your VCL program.