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Re: [RFC/PATCH] Handling PROPFIND in mod_dav_svn (was: Re: Issue with browsing a SVN 1.9.2, schema 7, packed, repository)

From: Stefan Fuhrmann <stefan2_at_apache.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:29:17 +0100

On 30.12.2015 16:49, Evgeny Kotkov wrote:
> Evgeny Kotkov <evgeny.kotkov_at_visualsvn.com> writes:
>> Stefan Fuhrmann <stefan2_at_apache.org> writes:
>>> Thanks, it would be nice if could do something within Subversion because
>>> httpd and apr patches may take a while to trickle down into releases.
>>> Meanwhile, I posted a patch for mod_dav on the httpd dev list.
>> I took a look at what's happening, and I think the root cause of the problem
>> is that during a PROPFIND walk, we use the request pool for allocations that
>> happen per every walked entry. This occurs when mod_dav_svn/repos.c:
>> do_walk() calls dav_propfind_walker() with dav_walk_resource.pool pointing
>> to the request pool.
> The problem with unbounded memory usage during PROPFINDs in mod_dav is old
> and quite fundamental. Its first acknowledgment dates back to year 2003 [1],
> and the corresponding Bugzilla issue has been open since 2009 [2, 3].
> Subversion's mod_dav_svn module is built around mod_dav, and is affected as
> well. The propfind walker makes different FS calls that allocate a lot of
> memory especially if a cache miss happens. A typical walk can cross the
> mod_dav - mod_dav_svn boundary multiple times. Since mod_dav was written
> long ago and doesn't follow the same pool usage practices as Subversion,
> some of the allocations happen in long-living pools, such as the request
> pool.

Given your response to Daniel later in this thread,
I want to re-iterate the nature of the problem to
prevent decision making based on false mental models.

The "designed" memory usage of mod_dav as in "what
gets allocated via palloc" is O(total size of all
properties). That is unbounded and if you attach
large properties to each node in a large folder,
you may end up with GB sized pools. This is a real
problem and needs to fixed eventually.

The current situation, however, is that we have O(N^2)
allocation *overhead*, i.e. memory provided by the
APR pool allocator that will never be used.

So, it is not that anybody allocates large structures
in long-living pools (except for large properties).
Instead APR reuses blocks from large, short-lived
allocations for small long-lived allocations.
Preventing that already goes a long way mitigating
the problems with any reasonable setup.

> So, the memory usage for a PROPFIND of depth 1 (svn ls -v) is unbounded.
> Although the actual memory consumption can be mitigated by the cache hits,
> since a cache hit either reduces or eliminates additional allocations, a real
> server can easily consume gigabytes of RAM, when the data is not and possibly
> can't fit in the cache. The problem is serious, and can lead to various out
> of memory conditions, such as constant swapping or server crashes.
> I'm aware of two possible ways of solving the problem:
> (1) Fix mod_dav, adjust mod_dav_svn accordingly
> (2) Reimplement PROPFIND in mod_dav_svn
> Doing (1) is hard, since it requires revving mod_dav's API and special care
> for other modules using it. As far as I know, those modules don't have tests
> and not breaking their behavior could be a challenging task.

(1) sounds like the right thing to do in the longer
term: fix the problem at the root and make everyone
profit from it henceforth. But I have no idea of what
that entails and if your assessment is that it can't
be done easily - for various reasons - then I'll
believe that.

> I believe that currently we don't have the necessary resources (aka committers)
> to do that. Given that the problem exists since 2003, I also doubt that it's
> going to solve itself in the nearby future. And moreover, even if somehow
> managed to do that, the fix would probably only be available in the newer
> 2.6.x httpd releases.
> With that in mind, I propose we do (2).
> Although I'm not entirely happy with reimplementing a part of the protocol, I
> don't think that there are other realistic approaches to this serious problem.
> It wouldn't be the first time we're doing something like this, since we already
> handle POST ourselves, as well as provide the custom Subversion's HTTPv2
> protocol implementation.

Assuming that your analysis for (1) is correct,
I think (2) is a viable option. However, I would
very much like to see mod_dav fixed as well and
to have (2) only as a temporary workaround.
"Temporary" being a quite euphemistic term here ...

> Apart from solving the memory usage issue, having the PROPFIND implementation
> in mod_dav_svn would allow us to improve a couple of other aspects of how we
> handle these requests, e.g.:
> - Shrink down the PROPFIND response size by avoiding duplicate xmlns:
> namespace declarations that currently exist.
> - Optimize how we retrieve properties from the FS layer, since we would
> no longer be doing mod_dav - mod_dav_svn - mod_dav transitions, and
> would have more flexibility.
> I attached a proof-of-concept patch that does (2). This patch solves the
> memory usage problem in my experiments and passes HTTPv2 / HTTPv1 tests.
> Thoughts?

Does the patch already include the improvements you
suggested above? Is it feasible to #ifdef the usage
of that code? I think if we have an easy and clean
opt-in / opt-out, people could be more accepting of
that workaround.

-- Stefan^2.
Received on 2016-01-11 17:29:06 CET

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