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From Robert Fox <>
Subject [users@httpd] Apache overwhelmed, restart fails
Date Tue, 18 Jul 2006 15:42:07 GMT

We've been using Apache 2 here at Notre Dame libraries for several years now, and for the
most part, the performance has 
been very reliable. However, there have been times during very peak usage periods when the
Apache servers will freeze 
and essentially stop responding to further requests. We have several CGI applications running
under the server that can 
be taxing, and sometimes Apache seems to get overwhelmed, and the maximum number of available
server spawns are reached.

When this happens, I've tried to restart Apache by first shutting it down and then starting
the server again. However, 
what usually happens is that the first server process will start, and child processes do not
spawn. This renders Apache 
useless again, and I'm usually forced to completely re-boot the server machine on which Apache
is running in order to 
clear RAM and reset the network connections. Then, Apache comes up and everything is fine
until the next incident. Here 
are some specs on our installation:

Server version: Apache/2.0.54
OS Version: Red Hat EL 3.0 (kernel 2.4.21-4.ELsmp)
Modules loaded: PHP 5, authentication modules, etc.

The CGI applications are mainly Perl based.

I've looked in the Apache logs (both main and error) and there is no indication that the server
is failing around the 
time that Apache freezes up. It seems odd that I can't stop the Apache servers and restart
them, which solves 90% of 
these sorts of issues with Apache. Except for administrative purposes, I rarely need to restart
Apache, so this isn't a 
major issue. But, I would like to know where to look to try and determine what is happening
when I'm unable to restart 
Apache. It's odd that the first process would start but the child processes won't. Any ideas?

Thank you for your help,

Rob Fox
     Robert Fox                               Sr. Programmer / Analyst
     University Libraries of Notre Dame       Phone: (574)631-3353
     211 Hesburgh Library                     Email:
     Notre Dame, IN  46556

"Sufficit tibi gratia mea nam virtus in infirmitate perficitur" - 2 Corinthians 12:9

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