Tag Archives: mod_perl

Ubuntu 10.10, modperl and Apache segfaulting fixed

Last month, before moving to Melbourne, where I am now, to work in the Opera Australia office for a few months, I had to setup a laptop for all the development work I normally do. So I chose Ubuntu 10.10 amd64. I have to say I'm quite happy with it. Everything works out of the box for me, including a Quickcam 9000 USB camera I used to shoot this poor time-lapse video from my new office window. Woot!

Anyway, the development environment for one particular project consists of Apache and mod_perl. So I setup the usual list of dependencies, but when I tried to start Apache to run the test suite, it would always stop right away with a segmentation fault.

Didn't really dig into the problem. Just straced the apache process, and that's what I got:

[apache starts up, reads a bunch of Perl modules, and opens the access  
brk(0x7f342adbd000)                     = 0x7f342adbd000
brk(0x7f342adde000)                     = 0x7f342adde000
brk(0x7f342adff000)                     = 0x7f342adff000
brk(0x7f342ae20000)                     = 0x7f342ae20000
brk(0x7f342ae41000)                     = 0x7f342ae41000
stat("/usr/lib/perl5/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7f341e8459b0) = -1 ENOENT (No  
such file or directory)
stat("/home/cosimo/src/auth-svn/lib/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520)  
= -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
stat("/etc/perl/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1 ENOENT (No such  
file or directory)
stat("/usr/local/lib/perl/5.10.1/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) =  
-1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
stat("/usr/local/share/perl/5.10.1/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) =  
-1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
stat("/usr/lib/perl5/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1 ENOENT (No  
such file or directory)
stat("/usr/share/perl5/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1 ENOENT  
(No such file or directory)
stat("/usr/lib/perl/5.10/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1 ENOENT  
(No such file or directory)
stat("/usr/share/perl/5.10/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1  
ENOENT (No such file or directory)
stat("/usr/local/lib/site_perl/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1  
ENOENT (No such file or directory)
stat("./auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or  
stat("/var/tmp/test_cosimo_22931/auto/DBI/DESTROY.al", 0x7fffc4e2d520) =  
-1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
--- SIGSEGV (Segmentation fault) @ 0 (0) ---
+++ killed by SIGSEGV +++

I thought it would be wiser to ask for advice on the DBI and mod_perl mailing lists. Tim Bunce suggested to try and get a stack trace of Apache. Why didn't I think of that in the first place? A few days later, I got my stack trace:

# gdb -c ./core /usr/sbin/apache2 
Reading symbols from ... 
Core was generated by `/usr/sbin/apache2 -d /var/tmp/test_cosimo_9727 -k 
start -C User cosimo -C Group ...'. 

Program terminated with signal 11, Segmentation fault. 
#0 0x00007fdaedfed858 in XS_Class__XSAccessor_END () 
from /usr/lib/perl5/auto/Class/XSAccessor/XSAccessor.so 
(gdb) backtrace 
#0 0x00007fdaedfed858 in XS_Class__XSAccessor_END () 
from /usr/lib/perl5/auto/Class/XSAccessor/XSAccessor.so 
#1 0x00007fdaf83cf845 in Perl_pp_entersub () from /usr/lib/libperl.so.5.10 
#2 0x00007fdaf83752c6 in Perl_call_sv () from /usr/lib/libperl.so.5.10 
#3 0x00007fdaf86ad40b in modperl_perl_call_list () 
from /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_perl.so 
#4 0x00007fdaf86b5786 in modperl_perl_destruct () 
from /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_perl.so 
#5 0x00007fdaf86a6256 in modperl_interp_destroy () 
from /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_perl.so 
#6 0x00007fdaf86a6715 in modperl_tipool_destroy () 
from /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_perl.so 
#7 0x00007fdaf86a62b2 in modperl_interp_pool_destroy () 
from /usr/lib/apache2/modules/mod_perl.so 
#8 0x00007fdaf98fd4e3 in ?? () from /usr/lib/libapr-1.so.0 
#9 0x00007fdaf98fc3b1 in apr_pool_destroy () from /usr/lib/libapr-1.so.0 
#10 0x00007fdaf98fc27f in apr_pool_clear () from /usr/lib/libapr-1.so.0 
#11 0x00007fdafa1b960d in main (argc=11, argv=0x7fff93b50ef8) 
at /build/buildd/apache2-2.2.16/server/main.c:692

Even if you don't know anything about stack traces, this output gently points to Class::XSAccessor. Perrin Harkins on the mod_perl list suggested to update Class::XSAccessor to the latest CPAN version, since its changelog mentioned some segmentation faults fixed in 0.10.

And that did it. No more segfaults on Ubuntu 10.10. Solution: upgrade Class::XSAccessor to 0.10+. Thanks to Class::XSAccessor maintainer(s)!

Plack, the grand glue

I have been looking at Plack for several months now. I always thought it was a cool project, where "cool" means useful, good code, nice documentation, well structured, strong development "flow", etc…

Lately I've been "rebooting" an internal project, doing a lot of infrastructure work like deployment tools, management of different environments like devel, test, staging and production, bug fixing, etc… Regular stuff that you usually already take for granted, but this project didn't have, for many reasons.

After this rebooting work, time has come to add new features to the web-facing part of this project, so new pages and forms. My frustration came from mainly two factors:

  • the code being tightly integrated with mod_perl
  • the need to change the apache config every time you add a new /something to the application

While the mod_perl integration is not necessarily a bad thing, and mod_perl is a fast and reliable product serving millions of pageviews per day, it's also nice to have code that you can run anywhere, not just on Apache. That might or might not happen, but I'd want to be ready when that's needed. In fact, we're starting to use nginx on some applications, including My Opera

So I decided to invest some time to play with Plack. Plack transposed to Perl concepts from Ruby's Rack and WSGI, a spec born in the Python world I believe.

I'm still at the first experiments with it, but Plack is a great software with a spectacular potential! If you're in doubt, try it for yourself. What made me decide to try Plack was Starman.

Starman is a damn fast PSGI-enabled preforking HTTP web server written in Perl. As soon as I started starman with a stupid simple app.psgi I realized I had to invest some time in it.

A couple of days later I have the slick opera.com design into a bunch of Template Toolkit blocks, with all machinery to make them work for real, and a PSGI application class. From the screenshot you can see this request is loaded in 38 ms, and this my desktop machine, and the Debug middleware gives you useful debugging info through sidebar panels.

I can run this class either as standalone with Starman, or in Apache + mod_perl with Plack::Handler::Apache2 or anything else for that matter, like FastCGI, or even plain CGI if you want that.

And I think that shows:

  • how cool the PSGI/WSGI concept is
  • that you can really code once, run anywhere, and don't care about the web server stack