push button lru nuking

Michael Fischer michael at dynamine.net
Sun Jan 17 00:55:05 CET 2010

This scheme seems very baroque.  Why not just reduce the size of your caches
so you don't page-thrash and let Varnish's builtin LRU algorithm handle the


On Sat, Jan 16, 2010 at 2:46 PM, David Birdsong <david.birdsong at gmail.com>wrote:

> I'm trying to hack my way around a push-button like lru nuking like
> feature.  The short description of how I'm doing it follows, I'll
> explain why farther down.
> I have a job that watches sm_bfree / (sm_bfree + sm_balloc).  Once
> storage file utilization is past some percentage(yet to be determined)
> I connect to upstream load balancers and slowly drain traffic away
> from varnish.
> Once traffic is off and I can beat the hell out of that box, it's time
> to free up some space.  In the past this has been done with restarts.
> Upon restarts, the cache hit ratio is destroyed, but the box can keep
> up and rebuild the cache in a stable way.  What I'd like to do is dump
> everything in the storage files that have a very low obj.hits.  Lru
> nuking on the surface seems like the best thing to initiate, but it
> usually only kicks in pretty late and puts the machine into a state
> that is unstable while serving.  While not serving, I don't know how
> to kick it off, furthermore I want it to run hard and free up lots
> more space than it usually does.
> ie.  cache file is ~200GB, I'd like it to run until sm_free is like 50GB.
> My idea is to load balance as I've described above.   Pull 50GB of
> trash files through the cache + enough to kick off lru, purge the
> trash files, monitor sm_bfree and once it's high enough instruct the
> upstream load balancers to start sending traffic gently for a warm up
> period.  Rinse and repeat into infinity replacing the ssd storage
> drives as they fail.  Is this crazy?  Am I uninformed on a better way?
> Also, I've had to keep making my trash files smaller and smaller.  I
> started with a 10 and 1G files which crashed varnish immediately, then
> reduced to 500MB files and successfully pulled 200 through - then
> crashed both my python interpreter (libcurl) and varnish:
> varnishd[2664]: Child (14772) Panic message: Assert error in
> STV_alloc(), stevedore.c line 183:#012  Condition((st) != NULL) not
> true.#012thread = (cache-worker)#012Backtrace:#012  0x421f95:
> pan_ic+85#012  0x4369e5: STV_alloc+125#012  0x41a1b6:
> FetchBody+496#012  0x4114dd: cnt_fetch+63d#012  0x412a3d:
> CNT_Session+35d#012  0x424273: wrk_do_cnt_sess+93#012  0x42362e:
> wrk_thread_real+26e#012  0x7f2cf51b83da: _end+7f2cf4b47c1a#012
> 0x7f2cf4a862bd: _end+7f2cf4415afd#012sp = 0x7f2ced387008 {#012  fd =
> 58, id = 58, xid = 1454039386,#012  client =,#012  step
> = STP_FETCH,#012  handling = deliver,#012  err_code = 200, err_reason
> = (null),#012  restarts = 0, esis = 0#012  ws = 0x7f2ced387078 { #012
>  id = "sess",#012    {s,f,r,e} =
> {0x7f2ced387800,+144,(nil),+4096},#012  },#012  http[req] = {#012
> ws = 0x7f2ced387078[sess]#012      "GET",#012
> "/lru.10.cache.buster.80.12994",#012      "HTTP/1.1",#012
> "User-Agent: PycURL/7.18.2",#012      "Host: localhost:6081",#012
> "Accept: */*",#012  },#012  worker = 0x7ef439f06390 {#012    ws =
> 0x7ef439f068f0 { #012      id = "wrk",#012      {s,f,r,e} =
> {0x7ef439f03350,+2143,(nil),+4096},#012    },#012    http[bereq] =
> {#012      ws = 0x7ef439f068f0[wrk]#012        "GET",#012
> "/lru.10.cache.buster.80.12994",#012        "HTTP/1.1",#012
> "User-Agent: PycURL/7.18.2",#012        "Host: localhost:6081",#012
>    "Accept: */*",#012        "X-Varnish: 1454039386",#012
> "X-Forwarded-For:",#012    },#012    http[beresp] = {#012
>  ws = 0x7ef439f068f0[wrk]#012        "HTTP/1.1",#012
> "200",#012        "OK",#012        "Server: nginx/0.7.64",#012
> "Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 21:11:09 GMT",#012        "Content-Type:
> application/octet-stream",#012        "Content-Length: 524288000",#012
>       "Last-Modified: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 21:08:11 GMT",#012
> "Connection: keep-alive",#012        "Accept-Ranges: bytes",#012
>  "X-Varnish-IP:",#012        "X-Varnish-Port: 6081",#012
> },#012    },#012
> Are big files bad?  I expect that I'll have to close a pretty big gap
> normally given that my 4 storage files are 75GB each (SSD). I'd like
> to start this process before lru nuking happens on it's own while
> varnish is not unloaded by upstream load balancers.  My guess based on
> loose recollection is that varnish will start lru nuking at 90%
> capacity.  It may just prove not feasible given that I'll have to pull
> roughly 60GB through to achieve the goal....perhaps freeing up a
> smaller percentage would be acceptable too though.  I'm still playing
> with this, but wanted to share my uber-hacky idea and let you guys
> tear it apart if it's a dumb idea.
> Why:
> Identifying the working set has been difficult.  It's large, the long
> tail is very long.  I've tried adaptive ttls to expire objects
> constantly that shouldn't be in cache:
>  in vcl_fetch: set every new object to a 2hr ttl.
>  in vcl_hit: if obt.hits == N ; then obj.ttl = 36 hours, where N is
> some number that is high enough to cache
> another permutation, update the vcl every 30 mins such that obj.ttl
> was set to expire exactly at the trough of traffic (2300 - 2350 PST)
>  in vcl_hit: if obt.hits = N ; then obj.ttl = 12h or 10h, or 3h
> (depending on time of day)
> This just ended up affecting cache hit ratio such that it was never
> favorable and the box was just busier as it was constantly expiring
> objects over the day. Restarts were still better than this.
> Setup:
> 3 haproxy load balancer machines consistently hashing to 6 varnish
> instances.  It's a prototype and will be scaled to a larger pool, so
> the impact of the downtime of a single varnish instance while it goes
> through a cache storage scrubbing is will be greatly reduced.
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