Multiplexing FastCGI module

Maxim Dounin mdounin at
Mon Dec 14 16:01:28 MSK 2009


On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 12:42:41PM +0100, Rasmus Andersson wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 02:12, Maxim Dounin <mdounin at> wrote:
> > Hello!
> >
> > On Sun, Dec 13, 2009 at 06:31:06PM +0100, Rasmus Andersson wrote:
> >
> >> Hi.
> >>
> >> I've written a multiplexing (concurrent requests through a single
> >> backend) version of the 0.8 fastcgi module along with a FastCGI server
> >> reference implementation:
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Please let me know what you think and if you're interested in merging
> >> in this code upstream.
> >
> > [Just a side note: there are lots of whitespace damage and style
> > violations in your code.  It's belived that following original
> > nginx style is good idea, makes reading diffs easier and improves
> > karma.]
> I'm well aware of this. The code (as you might have noticed) is in the
> early stages. Cleanup etc will be done once I've got the general ideas
> straight.

Yep.  Probably it's a good idea to post it for review once you 
done cleanup?  Unless you are going to run out of karma points 
till it happens...

> > I wasn't able to find enough code there to keep backend
> > connections alive and share them between requests.  Looks like the
> > code in question just assigns unique ids to requests sent to
> > fastcgi backend - while each request is still send in separate
> > connection...
> I'm far from experienced with the codebase of nginx thus I'm employing
> trial-and-error at large. In my tests nginx do keep the upstream peer
> connection and share it over http requests. In this screenshot
> in the upper right terminal you
> can see nginx log in debug mode -- no "disconnect" or "connect"

I don't see nginx running in debug mode on the screenshot in 
question.  Instead you use ngx_log_error(NGX_LOG_DEBUG, ...) for 
your messages which produce similar output (i.e. logs "[debug]" 
level) but not in fact debug.  And other debug messages are 
obviously not there.

> messages (which nginx do log when connecting/disconnecting to/from
> upstream peers). In the left hand side of the screen you see two
> FastCGI servers running. Nginx evenly distributes incoming requests to
> the two backends over two persistent upstream peer connections (the
> FastCGI server instances are logging "connect/disconnect" when nginx
> creates or drops a connection).
> I just re-ran the tests to confirm I wasn't too tired yesterday.
> Here's the log from one FastCGI server:
> fcgi client connected on fd 5
> ...
> app_handle_beginrequest 0x100530
> ...
> app_handle_beginrequest 0x100530
> ...
> Multiple requests received and handled over a period of time over one
> persistent connection from nginx.
> But I guess I'm missing something?

Looks like.  Or you are running not the code you published.

> > On the other hand, it sets FASTCGI_KEEP_CONN flag and thus breaks
> > things as nginx relay on fastcgi application to close connection.
> The FastCGI server will still be responsible for closing the connection.

No.  Once nginx sets FASTCGI_KEEP_CONN flag - it takes 
this responsibility according to fastcgi spec.

But looks like you didn't take the actual problem: nginx needs 
fastcgi application to close connections after it finished sending 
response.  It uses connection close as flush signal.  Without this 
requests will hang.

> > So basically it's not something usefull right now.  And it breaks
> > 3 out of 4 fastcgi subtests in the test suite
> > (
> I wasn't aware of those tests. In what way does it break the tests?
> Would you please help me solve the issues in my code breaking these
> tests?

As I don't see how you code can work at all - it's unlikely I'll 
be able to help.  Tests just show that I'm right and it doesn't 
work at all (the only test that passes checks that HEAD request 
returns no body...).

> > As to idea in general - I'm not really sure that request
> > multiplexing is great feature of fastcgi protocol.  It complicates
> > things and shouldn't be noticably faster than just using multiple
> > connections to the same fastcgi app (assuming fastcgi app is able
> > to handle connections asynchroniously).  It would be intresting to
> > compare though.
> Multiplexing in FastCGI is a HUGE DEAL. Imagine you run a website
> (there's quite a few of those around) and you want to do something
> fancy (for instance run some python or ruby app). Now, let's say your
> website become very popular and alot of your visitors have slow
> connections. You also do stuff in your app which takes some time (may
> it be long-polling for a chat message or wait for a slow I/O
> operation).
> This is a very common scenario now days (and the reason for nginx in
> the first place -- the c10k problem) which is very tough to satisfy
> with non-multiplexing fastcgi setups.
> Instead of this:
> You can have this:
> Saving gigabytes of memory and tens of thousands of file descriptors.
> Today, the only option is to build purpose-made nginx-modules or whole
> http-servers running separately from nginx.
> I say this with real-world experience. Would be awesome to implement
> the complete FastCGI 1.0 spec in nginx and be the first web server to
> support long-lived and slow connections with rich web apps!

Difference between fastcgi multiplexing and multiple tcp 
connections to the same fastcgi server isn't that huge.  Note 
well: same fastcgi server, not another one.

You may save two file descriptors per request (one in nginx, one 
in fastcgi app), and associated tcp buffers.  But all this isn't 
likely to be noticable given the number of resources you already 
spent on request in question.

The only use-case which appears to be somewhat valid is 
long-polling apps which consume almost no resources.  But even 
here you aren't likely to save more than half resources.

> > p.s. As keeping fastcgi connections alive appears to be
> > prerequisite for fastcgi multiplexing, here are some notes:
> >
> > Keeping fastcgi connections alive isn't really hard, but requires
> > a lot more than setting KEEP_CONN flag in fastcgi request.  Most
> > notably - ngx_event_pipe code and upstream module code should be
> > modified to make sure buffering is somewhat limited and does not
> > relay on connection close as end signal.  I've posted some preview
> > patches a while ago which makes fastcgi module able to keep
> > connections alive (with ngx_http_upstream_keepalive module), you
> > may want to take a look if you are going to continue your
> > multiplexing work.
> Thanks. Do you know where I can find those? Any hint to where I should
> start googling to find it in the archives?

Here is initial post in russian mailing list:

Here is the update for the last patch:

Not sure patches still applies cleanly, I haven't touch this for a 

Maxim Dounin

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