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From André Warnier ...@ice-sa.com>
Subject Re: fail to download large static files in tomcat
Date Tue, 28 Jun 2011 11:32:57 GMT
Michal Singer wrote:
> The useSendfile relates to connectors, the configuration I understand is needed is in
under Engine > Host > Context (<Context            docBase="../../work/bundles" 
          path="/bundles")
> 
> Can you explain how the " useSendfile" relates to static files?
> Is the configuration I am using correct? Or is there another way to configure the use
of static files?

Hi.  Let me explain, in not too technical or precise terms, what the useSendFile means.

Normally, to copy a filesystem file to the servlet response filehandle, you would
a) open the file, using some read buffer size
b) start a loop reading a chunk of the file, and writing that chunk to the response 
filehandle, and then loop and do it again until you reach the EOF on the input file.
c) close the input file
And you would do all that using Java I/O code, so that it is portable across OS'es.

Modern OS'es have a "sendfile" function, built in the OS itself.  Basically, it is a very

optimised piece of code, by which an application (like a Java JVM) can tell the OS : here

is the path to a file on the filesystem, and here is a "filehandle" to which this file 
should be copied.  The OS sendfile function then arranges everything to do this as 
efficiently as possible under that particular OS and filesystem, and for Java it is one 
function call instead of a Java I/O loop.

By setting the "useSendFile" attribute to true, you basically allow Tomcat to use the 
builtin sendfile of the OS to send the servlet response (instead of a Java I/O loop like 
the above). It only works if the input is a static file on the filesystem, but for such 
files it is probably at least 50% more efficient than the corresponding Java loop.
It is bound to the Connector, because the Connector is the object which "holds" the 
filehandle to the client TCP socket, where the response must ultimately be sent.

Another thing : the sendfile option will probable only work with the "APR native" 
connector. So check your Tomcat startup messages to verify that this is what you are using.

And yet another thing : all this will make it more efficient for the server CPU and disks,

to send back a static file. But it has no impact on the available bandwidth of your 
server-to-client link, or on the client itself.

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