Friday, 13 February 2009

This week's DPM troubles at Lancaster.

We've had some interesting time this week in Lancaster, a tale of Gremlins, Greedy Daemons and Magical Faeries who come in the night and fix your DPM problems.

On Tuesday evening, when we've all gone home for the night, the DPM srmv1 daemon (and to a lesser extent the srmv2.2 and dpm daemons) started gobbling up system resources, sending our headnode into a swapping frenzy. There are known memory leak problems in the DPM code, and we've been victim of them before but in those instances we've always been saved by a swift restart of the affected services and the worse that happened was a sluggish DPM. This time the DPM servies completely froze up, and around 7 pm we started failing tests.

So coming into this disaster on Wednesday morning we leaped into action. Restarting the services fixed the load on the headnode, but the DPM still wouldn't work. Checking the logs showed that all requests were being queued, apparently forever. The trail led to some error messages in the mysqld.log;

090211 12:05:37 [ERROR] /usr/libexec/mysqld: Lock wait timeout exceeded;
try restarting transaction
090211 12:05:37 [ERROR] /usr/libexec/mysqld: Sort aborted

The oracle Google pointed that these kind of errors were indicative of a mysql server in a bad state after suddenly loosing connection to a client but not accounting for this. Various restarts, reboots and threats were used, but nothing would get the dpm working and we had to go into downtime.

Rather then dive blindly into the bowels of the DPM backend mysql we got in contact with the DPM developers on the DPM support list. They were really quick to respond, and after recieving 40MB of (zipped!) log files from us set to work developing a strategy to fix us. It appears that our mysql had grown much larger then it should have, "bloating" with historical data, which contributed to it getting into a bad state and made the task of repairing the database harder- partly as we simply couldn't restore from backups as these too would be "bloated".

After a while of bashing our heads, scouring logs and waiting for news from the DPM chaps we decided to make use of the downtime and upgrade the RAM on our headnode to 4 GB (from 2), a task we had been saving for the scheduled downtime when we finally upgrade to the Holy Grail that is DPM 1.7.X. So we slapped in the RAM, brung the machine up clearly, and left it.

A bit over an hour after it came up after the upgrade the headnode started working again. As if by magic. Nothing notable in the logs, it just started working again. The theory is that the added RAM allowed the mysql to chug through a backlog of requests and start working again. But that's just speculation. The dpm chaps are still puzzling over what happened, and our databases are still bloated, but the crisis (for now).

So there are 2 morals to this tale;
1) I wouldn't advise running a busy DPM headnode with less then 4GB of RAM, it leads to unpredictable behaviour.
2) If you get stuck in an Unscheduled Downtime you might as well make use of it to do any work, you never know when something magical might happen!

No comments: