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From Rainer Jung <>
Subject Re: mod_jk and session stickiness
Date Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:23:07 GMT
On 23.07.2014 16:37, Christopher Schultz wrote:

> On 7/18/14, 12:13 PM, Rainer Jung wrote:

>> On 17.06.2014 16:43, Christopher Schultz wrote:
>>> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA256
>>> All,
>>> I've been using sticky sessions with mod_jk and I can see that
>>> there is a bit of a problem when attempting to take a backend
>>> Tomcat server out of load-balanced rotation: a user who never (or
>>> rarely) restarts their web browser will keep the same JSESSIONID
>>> cookie forever and therefore end up with the same backend server
>>> whether it has been disabled or not.
>>> Quick series of events:
>>> 1. User visits load-balancer and gets a randomly-assigned
>>> backend server/route. We'll call this route "X". The JSESSIONID
>>> cookie set by the backend server is therefore foo.X.
>>> 2. User's requests are routed by mod_jk to route X.
>>> 3. Route X is disabled using mod_jk's status worker
>>> 4. User's session on server X expires.
>>> [Technically, 3 and 4 can happen in either order]
>>> 5. User makes a new request to the load-balancer, and mod_jk sees
>>> the JSESSIONID cookie still set to foo.X. mod_jk sends the
>>> request to route X which allows the user to login, etc.
>>> Thus, it takes more time than necessary to bleed all the traffic
>>> from route X for maintenance, etc.
>>> Is there a way for mod_jk to ask route X if the session is
>>> *still* valid? It seems that mod_jk will not re-route a request
>>> that looks like it's got a valid session id to a new (active)
>>> backend server unless the backend server X is actually down.
>>> Any ideas?
>> Not exactly what you want, but you can build something around it:
>> 1) Switch off stickyness for specific URLs
>> If you know that users will come via specific URLs, like a login
>> page, and you want that page to be handled non-sticky to optimize
>> load balancing even if users have an old cookie, you can do that by
>> setting the Apache envvar JK_STICKY_IGNORE. Look for
> This seems like a reasonable way to do things, except that we still
> want to support requests to protected resources being saved and
> redirected to the login page. If we did this (JK_STICKY_IGNORE), then
> we'd end up "forgetting" the saved request (because the client would
> be re-balanced to another node for the login page) and ending up with
> a (useless) session on the node we are trying to take down.
> We'd like to retain the request-saving capabilities of the container.

Whatever "saved" exactly means: if you can identify that situation in 
terms of any part of the request (e.g. something in the referer header 
etc.), you can add that as a positive or negative condition via 
RewriteCond (or the 2.4 unified expression parser) and set 
JK_STICKY_IGNORE in a RewriteRule that does not change the URI, only 
sets the variable and also only of the RewriteConds apply. You'd have to 
analyze the request-response stream e.g. with a browser plugin to look 
for a useful header or similar which can be used to distinguish the 
"saved" and the "normal" case.

> One option we have here is to provide separate URLs for "regular"
> logins versus the saved-request logins mentioned above: that would
> probably solve both problems.
>> 2) Improve handling of sessions for node with activation
>> "disabled"
>> If you switch a node to activation "disabled", mod_jk will not
>> send requests there, that have no session id (and of course also
>> not when the session route points to another node). But the old
>> cookie requests might still go there.
> Yes, this is what we would normally do.
>> For that you can use the feature, that mod_jk forwards the
>> activation state to the Tomcat node. The node can then decide on
>> itself, whether it will handle a request coming in with an invalid
>> session id, or for example clears the session cookie and does a
>> self-referential redirect, which then by mod_jk is balanced on the
>> fully enabled nodes.
> This sounds like a promising technique. I was thinking we'd just tell
> the Tomcat node directly (e.g. set a context-scoped flag) that it was
> "disabled", but having AJP forward that information would be even
> better, so the state can be managed entirely by the status worker on
> the httpd side.
>> This logic can be put into a servlet filter.
> I'm not sure it can be in a Filter because of the interaction with the
> saved-request features described above. If in a Filter, the request
> would be saved before the Filter has a chance to see it, then
> authentication would take place, etc.
> I think this has to be in a Valve, and it has to happen before the
> AuthenticatorValve sees the request. Do you see a way around using a
> Valve? Assuming that such a Valve would be required, I think we should
> provide one with Tomcat. I'd be happy to write such a Valve.

Can't comment because I don't know what exactly the "saved request" 
feature means, resp. how it works.



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