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From Damien Katz <>
Subject Need help debugging mochiweb/Safari HTTP problems
Date Wed, 23 Jul 2008 19:01:28 GMT
Right now we are having a major problem with HTTP request being  
retried. This problem is responsible for the test suite failures seen  
constantly in Safari (though others report similar failures in  
Firefox, I've not seen them myself). And not just test suite failures,  
some are seeing the same behavior in production.

The major symptoms of this problem:
1. Mysterious conflict - You get a conflict error saving a document to  
the db. When you examine the existing db document, it's already got  
your changes.
2. Duplicate document - When creating a new document via POST, you  
occasionally get 2 new documents created instead of one.

#1 is annoying but not too serious, no data is lost or corrupted. #2  
is a bit more dangerous, because you could consider the database  
corrupted by having the duplicate document. (depends on what problems  
it would cause for your app)

What is happening in both these cases is the HTTP requests are getting  
sent and processed twice. The first request is given to CouchDB and is  
handled, but when CouchDB attempts to send the response, the  
connection is reset (apparently). Then another identical HTTP request  
comes in and the request is processed again.

I am not a TCP expert. but by viewing the network requests via  
tcpdump, it is obvious the request packets, 1 header and 1 body  
packet, are getting resent from the client to the server. I do not  
know if the packets are being resent at the TCP level, or if the HTTP  
client in safari is retrying the request after getting a TCP error.

I do not know why the network error or subsequent resend is happening.  
I can only confirm that it *is* happening. If this is at the TCP  
level, then it means we definitely need to do away with the non- 
idempotent POST to create new documents.

I think we do anyway though. While this network error should not be  
happening, it did expose an interesting problem with our use of POST  
for document creation. The problem is the generated id for the  
document is a UUID generated server side, so the server has no way to  
distinguish if a request is a new request or a resend of an already  
processed request, and so generates another UUID and thus creates  
another new document. But if the UUID is generated by the client, then  
the resend will cause a conflict error, that UUID already exists in  
the DB, thus eliminating the duplicate data.

However, we still need to figure out why this is happening in the  
first place. Why is the connection being reset and why is the request  
being retried?

If anyone want to try to debug this, here is what I've been doing:
1. Run a packet sniffer for local port 5984 and start couchdb
2. Got to,  click the "Test Suite" link
3. Run the "basics" test manually until you see a "conflict error"  
exception in test result. (This exception stops the test executing. I  
don't try to debug other test failures, since the test keeps on  
running after the failure)
4. The last few requests will be the duplicated requests. There is  
information about the packets, but I don't know how to interpret it.

Any help and input appreciated.


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