Bug 13511 - Apache misbehaves if log file reaches 2GB
Apache misbehaves if log file reaches 2GB
Product: Apache httpd-2
Classification: Unclassified
Component: Core
All Linux
: P3 normal (vote)
: ---
Assigned To: Apache HTTPD Bugs Mailing List
no url available
: 20160 28968 30170 33937 (view as bug list)
Depends on:
  Show dependency tree
Reported: 2002-10-10 19:38 UTC by Dave Dyer
Modified: 2014-02-17 13:50 UTC (History)
4 users (show)


Note You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.
Description Dave Dyer 2002-10-10 19:38:05 UTC
If the error log can't be written, it appears that any process that
tries to write to the error log is quietly terminated.   This can 
cause serious errors where no serious errors existed.

Suggest 1) "quiet termination" should be noisier, to attract attention.
2) there should be some sort of overall status information that could be
routinely monitored for such "alarm" conditions as the inability to make
log file entries.

Here are some details from an event that led to this report.  The "symptom"
was that some scripted emails arrived blank.  There was no other indication
of a problem, but once someone complained about the blank emails, It was 
noticed that the error_log was 2GB in size and had stopped growing due to 
maximum file size.  The web site was otherwise operating normally, except
that errors weren't being logged.

Further investigation showed that a CGI subprocess invlolved in sending the 
email was routinely emitting a warning message, which was logged, and the
inability to log the warning caused the process to terminate.  Since the main 
thread emitting HTML didn't fail, the user's screen didn't indicate any 
Comment 1 Joshua Slive 2002-10-16 16:58:56 UTC
Hmmm... I'm not really an expert in this, but it seems it is the CGI script
that needs to guard against the out-of-space condition, not Apache.
What could Apache do to prevent this?
Comment 2 Dave Dyer 2002-10-16 17:18:52 UTC
No, the CGI is not even aware that a log file is being written; it
is merely emitting some text on stderr.  For its pains, it gets
terminated by apache.

Comment 3 Joshua Slive 2002-10-17 01:35:13 UTC
Again, I'm not an expert in this, but Apache is just attaching the stderr pipe to 
the error log.  If this pipe can't be written, the OS is probably just sending
SIGPIPE to your CGI.  If you CGI doesn't handle that, it will die.

I don't see anything that Apache could do about this.
Comment 4 Dave Dyer 2002-10-17 05:27:54 UTC
Apache can't be doing anything as simpleminded as you
suggest, because it is running many concurrent CGI threads.
So the fate of this particular thread could be better.

Secondarily, as I suggested, apache must know that globally
speaking, it's log file is not working.  There should be some
alert procedure - it shouldn't just allow shit to happen until
someone notices the mess and deduces the cause and cure.

Comment 5 Joshua Slive 2002-10-17 13:30:42 UTC
I don't understand your first paragraph at all.  How does multiple CGI
processes have anything to do with it?  They are all handled identically.

Regarding behaving better when the error log is full, that seems
kind of absurd to me.  Apache writes errors to the the error log.
If it can't do that, what is it supposed to do?  Write to another
log file?  What if that log can't be written to?  Send a message to
your pager?  Walk down the hall and tap you on the shoulder? ;-)

At some point it needs to be the administrator's responsibility
to maintain available system resources.
Comment 6 William A. Rowe Jr. 2002-10-17 14:52:17 UTC
  In this case, this minimum requirement is that a 500 error (with no
  additional 'helpful information') should be sent to the client of this
  terminated script.
Comment 7 Dave Dyer 2002-10-17 18:08:01 UTC
Re: multiple CGI processes - it their output was tee'd directly from
stderr to a log file, the output from multiple processes would be 
chaotically interspersed.  That in itself would be a problem. The 
output from DTDOUT is clearly handled individually, so why not STDERR?

For the momement, lets separate the question of what happened to 
this particular CGI from that happens in general.

1) For this particular CGI, a warning message caused the process to terminate,
effectively turning friendly glitch audit trail into a black hole.  Clearly 
not a desirable outcome.

2) From the viewpoint of apache as a whole, if log files are not being maintained
and processes are being killed randomly, the system as a whole is in serious
jeopordy.  Perhaps Apache should shut down (which will surely get someone's
attention) but at the very least there should be an emergency channel of some
sort throug which apache reports serious internal problems.  The standard log
files are not a good place for this, because apache's (rare we hope) internal
problems would be lost in mountains of routine log data.

Consider the current case; Apache knows exactly what is wrong, and can/should
tell the sysop "error log can't be written".    Consider the current behavior
as a debugging problem "my email arrived blank".  Which would you rather deal
Comment 8 Jeff Trawick 2003-02-14 21:41:32 UTC
This is the 2GB log file problem :(

32-bit builds of Apache (1.3 or 2.0) don't currently handle "large" files. 
Apache child processes will die trying to write logs which have reached 2GB in
size.  The obvious place to report the proble is -- you guessed it -- the
log file that we can't write to.

The current message to users is that they need to use log rotation to keep the
size well under 2GB.

Yes this sucks, yes it will eventually get fixed, yes there are issues that make
it problematic to enable on some platforms (including Linux).

Sorry :(
Comment 9 Jeff Trawick 2003-05-22 18:39:46 UTC
*** Bug 20160 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 10 Joe Orton 2003-05-22 19:56:59 UTC
Yeah, you can improve the failure mode for this problem by setting SIGXFSZ (the
signal which kills the process when it write()s past 2gb) to SIG_IGN.  It's a
trivial change - I'll submit a patch.
Comment 11 Joe Orton 2004-05-06 10:53:07 UTC
Fixed in HEAD by allowing >2Gb log files on platforms which have this limit;
will be proposed for backport for the next 2.0 release.
Comment 12 Joe Orton 2004-05-14 11:06:17 UTC
*** Bug 28968 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 13 Joe Orton 2004-08-24 20:37:16 UTC
*** Bug 30170 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 14 Joe Orton 2005-03-09 19:36:59 UTC
*** Bug 33937 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***