Posts Tagged ‘tmpfs’

No space left on device with free disk space / Why no space left on device while there is plenty of disk space on drive – Running out of Inodes

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

no_space_left-on-device-while-there-is-disk-space-running-out-of-file-inodes-unix_linux_file_system_diagram.gif

 

On one of the servers, I'm administrating the websites started showing some Mysql database table corrup errors like:
 

 

Table './database_name/site_news_list_com' is marked as crashed and last (automatic?) repair failed

The server is using Oracle MySQL server community stable edition on Debian GNU / Linux 6.0, so I first thought during work the server crashed either due to some bug issue in MySQL or it crashed due to some PHP cron job that did something messy. Thus to solve the crashed tables, tried using mysqlcheck tool which helped pretty fine, at many times whether there were database / table corruptions. I've run the following set of mysqlcheck commands with root (superuser) in a bash shell after logging in through SSH:

:

server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–check –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log
server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf –analyze –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log
server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–auto-repair –optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log
server:~# /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log


In order for above commands to work, I've created the /root/.my.cnf containing my root (mysql CLI) mysql username and password, e.g. file has content like below:

 

[client]
user=root
password=MySecretPassword8821238

 

Btw a good note here is its generally a good idea (if you want to have consistent mysql databases) to automatically execute via a cron job 2 times a month, I've in root cronjob the following:

 

crontab -u root -l |grep -i mysqlcheck
04 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–check –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log 07 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf –analyze –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log 12 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–auto-repair –optimize –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log 17 06 5,10,15,20,25,1 * * /usr/bin/mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–optimize –all-databases –silent -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log


Strangely I got a lot of errors that some .MYI / .MYD .frm temp files, necessery for the mysql tables recovery can't be written inside /home/mysql/database_name

That was pretty weird and I thought there might be some issues with permissions, causing the inability to write, due to some bug or something so I went straight and checked /home/mysql/database_name permissions, e.g.::

 

server:/home/mysql/database_name# ls -ld soccerfame
drwx—— 2 mysql mysql 36864 Nov 17 12:00 soccerfame
server:/home/mysql/database_name# ls -al1|head -n 10
total 1979012
drwx—— 2 mysql mysql 36864 Nov 17 12:00 .
drwx—— 36 mysql mysql 4096 Nov 17 11:12 ..
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 8712 Nov 17 10:26 1_campaigns_diez.frm
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 14672 Jul 8 18:57 1_campaigns_diez.MYD
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 1024 Nov 17 11:38 1_campaigns_diez.MYI
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 8938 Nov 17 10:26 1_campaigns.frm
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 8738 Nov 17 10:26 1_campaigns_logs.frm
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 883404 Nov 16 22:01 1_campaigns_logs.MYD
-rw-rw—- 1 mysql mysql 330752 Nov 17 11:38 1_campaigns_logs.MYI


As seen from above output, all was perfect with permissions, so it should have been something else, so I decided to try to create a random file with touch command inside /home/mysql/database_name directory:

 

touch /home/mysql/database_name/somefile-to-test-writtability.txt touch: cannot touch ‘/scr1/data/somefile-to-test-writtability.txt‘: No space left on device


Then logically I thought the /home/mysql/ mounted ext4 partition got filled, because of crashed SQL database or a bug thus, checked with disk free command df whether there is enough space on server:

server:~# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/md1 20G 7.6G 11G 42% /
udev 10M 0 10M 0% /dev
tmpfs 13G 1.3G 12G 10% /run
tmpfs 32G 0 32G 0% /dev/shm
tmpfs 5.0M 0 5.0M 0% /run/lock
tmpfs 32G 0 32G 0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/md2 256G 134G 110G 55% /home

Well that's weird? Obviously only 55% of available disk space is used and available 134G which was more than enough so I got totally puzzled why, files can't be written.

Then very logically, I thought it might be that /home directory has remounted as read only, because the SSD memory disk on server is failing and checked for errors in dmesg, i.e.:

 

server:~# dmesg|grep -i error


Also checked how exactly was partition mounted, to check whether it is (RO) read-only:

 

server:~# mount -l|grep -i /home
/dev/md2 on /home type ext4 (rw,relatime,discard,data=ordered)


Now everything become even more weirder, as obviously the disk continued to be claiming no space left on device, while in reality there was plenty of disk space.

Then after running a quick research on the internet for the no space left on device with free disk space, I've come across this great superuser.com thread which let me realize the partition run out of inodes and that's why no new file inodes could be assigned and therefore, the linux kernel is refusing to write the file on ext4 partition.

For those who haven't heard of Linux Partition Inodes here is link to Wikipedia and a quick quote:

 

In a Unix-style file system, the inode is a data structure used to represent a filesystem object, which can be one of various things including a file or a directory. Each inode stores the attributes and disk block location(s) of the filesystem object's data.[1] Filesystem object attributes may include manipulation metadata (e.g. change,[2] access, modify time), as well as owner and permission data (e.g. group-id, user-id, permissions).[3]
Directories are lists of names assigned to inodes. The directory contains an entry for itself, its parent, and each of its children.


Once I understood it is the inodes, I checked how many of them are occupied with cmd:

 

server:~# df -i /home
Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on
/dev/md2 17006592 17006592 0 100% /home


You see, there were 0 (zero) free file inodes on server and that was the reason for no space left on device while there was actually free disk space

To clean up (free) some inodes on partition, first thing I did is to delete all old logs which were inside /home and files I positively know not to be necessery, then to find which directories allocating most innodes used:

 

server:~# find . -xdev -type f | cut -d "/" -f 2 | sort | uniq -c | sort -n


If you're on a regular old fashined IDE Hard Drive and not SSD or you have too much files inside this command will take really long …:

Therefore a better solution might be to frist:

a) Try to find root folders with large inodes count:

for i in /home/*; do echo $i; find $i |wc -l; done
Try to find specific folders:


You should get output like:

 

/home/new_website
606692
/home/common
73
/home/pcfreak
5661
/home/hipo
33
/home/blog
13570
/home/log
123
/home/lost+found
1

b) Then once you know the directory allocating most inodes, run the command again to see the sub-directories with most files (eating) partition innodes:

 

for i in /home/webservice/*; do echo $i; find $i |wc -l; done

 

One usual large folder which could free you some nodes is the linux source headers, but in my case it was simply a lot of tiny old logs being logged on the system for few years in the past without cleaning:

After deleting the log dirs and cache folder in my case /home/new_website/{log,cache}:

server:~# rm -rf /home/new_website/log/*
server:~# rm -rf /home/new_website/cache/*

 

 

a) Then, stopping Apache webserver to check prevent Apache to use MySQl databases while running database repair and restaring MySQL:
 

server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 stop Restarting MySQL server
..
server:~# /etc/init.d/mysql restart
..


b) And re-issuing MySQL Check / Repair / Optimize database commands:
 

 

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–check –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf –analyze –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–auto-repair –optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

mysqlcheck –defaults-extra-file=/etc/mysql/debian.cnf \–optimize –all-databases -u root -p`grep -i password /root/.my.cnf |sed -e 's#password=##g'`>> /var/log/cronwork.log

c) And finally starting the Apache Webserver again:
 

server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 start


Some innodse got freed up:
 

server:~# df -i /home Filesystem Inodes IUsed IFree IUse% Mounted on
/dev/md2 17006592 16797196 209396 99% /home


And hooray by God's Grace and with help of prayers of The most Holy Theotokos (Virgin) Mary, websites started again !

Speed up WordPress / Joomla CMS and MySQL server on Linux with tmpfs ram file system / Decrease Website pageload times with RAM caching

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

speed-up-accelerate-wordpress-joomla-drupal-cms-and-mysql-server-with-tmpfs_ramfs_decrease-pageload-times-with-ram-caching
As a WordPress blog owner and an sys admin that has to deal with servers running a lot of WordPress / Joomla / Droopal and other custom CMS installed on servers, performoing slow or big enough to put a significant load on servers
and I love efficiency and hardware cost saving is essential for my daily job, I'm constantly trying to find new ways to optimize Customer Website (WordPress) and rest of sites in order to utilize better our servers and improve our clients sites speed (and hence satisfaction). 

There is plenty of little things to do on servers but probably among the most crucial ones which we use nowadays that save us a lot of money is tmpfs, and earlier (ramfs) – previously known as shmfs).
TMPFS is a (Temporary File Storage Facility) Linux kernel technology based on ramfs (used by Linux kernel initrd / initramfs on boot time in order to load and store the Linux kernel in memory, before system hard disk partition file systems are mounted) which is heavily used by virtually all modern popular Linux distributions. 

Using ramfs (cramfs variation – Compressed ROM filesystem) has been used to store different system environment kernel and Desktop components of many Linux environment / applications and used by a lot of the Linux BootCD such as the most famous (Klaus Knopper's) KNOPPIX LiveCD and Trinity Rescue Kit Linux (TRK uses /dev/shm which btw can be seen on most modern Linux distros and is actually just another mounted tmpfs).
If you haven't tried Live Linux yet try it out as me and a lot of sysadmins out there use some kind of LiveLinux at least few times on yearly basis  to Recover Unbootable Linux servers after some applied remote Updates as well as for Rescuing (Save) Data from Linux server failing to properly boot because of hard disk (bad blocks) failures. As I said earlier TMPFS is also used on almost any distribution for the /dev/ filesystem which is kept in memory.

You can see which tmpfs partitions is used on your Linux server with:

 

debian-server:~# mount |grep -i tmpfs
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)

 

Above is an output from a standard Debian Linux server. On CentOS 7 standard mounted tmpfs are as follows:

 

[root@centos ~]# mount |grep -i tmpfs
devtmpfs on /dev type devtmpfs (rw,nosuid,seclabel,size=1016332k,nr_inodes=254083,mode=755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,seclabel)
tmpfs on /run type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,seclabel,mode=755)
tmpfs on /sys/fs/cgroup type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,noexec,seclabel,mode=755)

 

[root@centos ~]# df -h|grep -i tmpfs
devtmpfs                 993M     0  993M   0% /dev
tmpfs                   1002M   92K 1002M   1% /dev/shm
tmpfs                   1002M  8.8M  993M   1% /run
tmpfs                   1002M     0 1002M   0% /sys/fs/cgroup

The /run tmpfs mounted directory is also to be seen also on latest Ubuntus and Fedoras and is actually the good old /var/run ( where applications keep there pids and some small app related files) stored in tmpfs filesystem stored in memory.

If you're wondering what is /dev/shm and why it appears mounted on every single Linux Server / Desktop you've ever used this is a special filesystem shared memory which various running programs (processes) can use to transfer data quick and efficient between each other to preven the slow disk swapping. People using Linux for the rest 15 years should remember /dev/shm has been a target of a lot of kernel exploits as historically it had a lot of security issues.

While writting this article I've just checked about KNOPPIX developed amd just for info as of time of writting this distro has already 1000+ programs on CD version and 2600+ packages / application on DVD version.
Nowadays Knoppix is mostly used mostly as USB Live Flash drive as a lot of people are dropping CD / DVD use (many servers doesn't have a CD / DVD Drive) and for USB Live Flash Linux distros tmpfs is also key technology used as this gives the end user an amazing fast experience (Desktop applications run much fasten on Live USBs when tmpfs is used than when the slow 7200 RPM HDDs are used).

Loading big parts of the distribution within RAM (with tmpfs from Linux Kernel 2.4+ onwards) is also heavily used by a lot of Cluster vendors in most of Clustered (Cloud) Linux based environemnts, cause TMPFS gives often speeds up improvements to x30 times and decreases greatly I/O HDD. FreeBSD users will be happy to know that TMPFS is already ported and could be used on from FreeBSD 7.0+ onward.

In this small article I will give you example use on how I use tmpfs to speed up our WordPress Websites which use WP Caching plugins such as W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache
and Hyper Cache / WP Super Cache disk caching and MySQL server as a Database backend.
Below example is wordpress specific but since it can be easily applied to JoomlaDrupal or any other CMS out there that uses mySQL server to make a lot of CPU expensive memory hungry (LEFT JOIN) queries which end up using a slow 7200 RPM hard disk.


 

1. Preparing tmpfs partitions for WordPress File Cache directory
 

If you want to give tmpfs a test drive, I recommend you try to create / mount a 20 Megabyte partition. To create a tmpfs partition you don't need to use a tool like mkfs.ext3 / mkfs.ext4 as TMPFS is in reality a virtual filesystem that is mapped in the server system physical RAM (volatile memory). TMPFS is very nice because if you run out of free RAM system starts a combination of RAM use + some Hard disk SWAP 
The great thing about TMPFS is it never uses all of the available RAM and SWAP, which would not halt your server if TMPFS partition gets filled, but instead you will start getting the usual "Insufficient Disk Space", just like with a physical HDD parititon. RAMFS cares much less about server compared to TMPFS, because if RAMFS is historically older.

ramfs file systems cannot be limited in size like a disk base file system which is limited by it’s capacity, thus ramfs will continue using memory storage until the system runs out of RAM and likely crashes or becomes unresponsive. This is a problem if the application writing to the file system cannot be limited in total size, so in my opinion you better stay away from RAMFS except you have a good idea what you're doing. Another disadvantage of RAMFS compared to TMPFS is you cannot see the size of the file system in df and it can only be estimated by looking at the cached entry in free.

Note that before proceeding to use TMPFS or RAMFS you should know besides having advantages, there are certain serious disadvantage that if the server using tmpfs (in RAM) to store files crashes the customer might loose his data, therefore using RAM filesystems on Production servers is best to be used just for caching folders which are regularly synchronized with (rsync) to some folder to assure no data will be lost on server reboot or crash.

Memory of fast storage areas are ideally suited for applications which need repetitively small data areas for caching or using as temporary space such as Jira (Issue and Proejct Tracking Software) Indexing  As the data is lost when the machine reboots the tmpfs stored data must not be data of high importance as even scheduling backups cannot guarantee that all the data will be replicated in the even of a system crash.

To test mounting a tmpfs virtual (memory stored) filesystem issue:
 

mount -t tmpfs tmpfs -o size=256m /mnt/tmpfs


If you want to test mount a ramfs instead:

 

 mount -t ramfs -o size=256m ramfs /mnt/ramfs

 

debian-server:~#  mount |grep -i -E "ramfs|tmpfs"
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)
tmpfs on /mnt/tmpfs type tmpfs (rw,size=256m)
ramfs on /mnt/ramfs type tmpfs (rw,size=256m)

 

Once mounted tmpfs can be used in the same way as any ext4 / reiserfs filesystem. In the same way to make mounts permanent, its necessery to add a line to /etc/fstab

To illustrate better a tmpfs use case on my blog running WordPress with W3TotalCache (W3TC) plugin cache folder in /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc to get advantage of tmpfs to store w3tc files.

a) Stop Apache

On Debian
 

debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/apache stop


On CentOS 
 

[root@centos ~]# /etc/init.d/httpd stop


b) Move w3tc dir to w3tc-bak

 

debian-server:~# cd /var/www/blog/wp-content/
debian-server:~# mv w3tc w3tc-bak

 

c) Create w3tc directory
 

debian-server:/var/www/blog/wp-content# mkdir w3tc
debian-server:/var/www/blog/wp-content# chown -R www-data:www-data w3tc


d) Add tmpfs record to /etc/fstab

My W3TC Cache didn't grow bigger than 2Gigabytes so I create a 2Giga directory for it by adding following in /etc/fstab 
 

debian-server:~# vim /etc/fstab

 

tmpfs /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc tmpfs defaults,size=2g,noexec,nosuid,uid=33,gid=33,mode=1755 0 0


You might also want to add the nr_inodes (option) to tmpfs while mounting. nr_inodes is the maximum inode for instance. Default is half the number of your physical RAM pages, (on a machine with highmem) the number of lowmem RAM page, some common option that should work is nr_inodes=5k, if you're unsure what this option does you can safely skip it 🙂

e) Mount new added tmpfs folder

Then to mount the newly added filesystem issue:
 

mount -a


Or if you're on a CentOS / RHEL server use httpd Apache user instead and whenever you have docroot and wordpress installed.

 

[root@centos ~]# chown -R apache:apache: w3tc


If you're using Apache SuPHP use whatever the UID / GID is proper.

On CentOS you will need to set proper UID and GID (UserID / GroupID), to find out which ones to to use check in /etc/passwd:
 

[root@centos ~]# grep -i apache /etc/passwd
apache:x:48:48:Apache:/var/www:/sbin/nologin


f) Move old w3tc cache from w3tc-bak to w3tc

 

debian-server:/var/www/blog/wp-content# mv w3tc-bak/* w3tc/

 

g) Start again Apache

On Debian:

 

debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 start

 


On CentOS:
 

[root@centos~]# /etc/init.d/httpd start

h) Keeping w3tc cache site folder synced

As I said earlier the biggest problem with caching (the reason why many hosting providers) and site admins refuse to use it is they might loose some data, to prevent data loss or at least mitigate the data loss to few minutes intervals it is a good idea to synchronize tmpfs kept folders somewhere to disk with rsync.

To achieve that use a cronjob like this:
 

debian-server:~# crontab -u root -e
*/5 * * * * /usr/bin/ionice -c3 -n7 /usr/bin/nice -n 19 /usr/bin/rsync -ah –stats –delete /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc/ /backups/tmpfs/cache/ 1>/dev/null


Note that you will need to have the /backups/tmpfs/cache folder existing, create it with:

 

debian-server:~# mkdir -p /backups/tmpfs/cache


You will also need to add a rsync synchronization from backupped folder to tmpfs (in case if the server gets accidently rebooted because it hanged or power outage), place in

/etc/rc.local

 

ionice -c3 -n7 nice -n 19 rsync -ahv –stats –delete /backups/tmpfs/cache/ /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc/ 1>/dev/null


(somewhere before exit 0) line
 

0 05 * * * /usr/bin/ionice -c3 -n7 /bin/nice -n 19 /usr/bin/rsync -ah –stats –delete /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc/ /backups/tmpfs/cache/ 1>/dev/null

 

 

2. Preparing tmpfs partitions for MySQL server temp File Cache directory


Its common that MySQL servers had to serve a lot of long and heavy SQL JOIN Queries mostly by related posts WP plugins such as (Zemanta Related Posts) and Contextual Related posts though MySQLs are well optimized  to work as much as efficient using mysql tuner (tuning primer) still often SQL servers get a lot of temp tables created to disk (about 25% to 30%) of all SQL queries use somehow HDD to serve queries and as this is very slow and there is file lock created the overall MySQL performance becomes sluggish at times to fix (resolve) that without playing with SQL code to optimize the slow queries the best way I found is by using TMPFS as MySQL temp folder.

To do so I create a TMPFS usually the size of 256 MB because this is usually enough for us, but other hosting companies might want to add bigger virtual temp disk:

a) Add tmpfs new dir to /etc/fstab

In /etc/fstab add below record with vim editor:
 

debian-server:~# vim /etc/fstab

 

tmpfs /var/mysqltmp tmpfs rw,gid=111,uid=108,size=256M,nr_inodes=10k,mode=0700 0 0

 

Note that the uid / and gid 105 and 114 are taken again from /etc/passwd

On Debian

debian-server:~# grep -i mysql /etc/passwd
mysql:x:108:111:MySQL Server,,,:/var/lib/mysql:/bin/false


On CentOS
 

[root@centos ~]# grep -i mysql /etc/passwd
mysql:x:27:27:MySQL Server:/var/lib/mysql:/bin/bash


b) Create folder /var/mysqltmp or whenever you want to place the tmpfs memory kept SQL folder

 

debian-server:~# mkdir /var/mysqltmp
debian-server:~# chown mysql:mysql /var/mysqltmp

 

debian-server:~# mount|grep -i tmpfs
tmpfs on /lib/init/rw type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,mode=0755)
udev on /dev type tmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
tmpfs on /dev/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)
tmpfs on /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc type tmpfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,size=2g,uid=33,gid=33,mode=1755)
tmpfs on /var/mysqltmp type tmpfs (rw,gid=108,uid=111,size=256M,nr_inodes=10k,mode=0700)


c) Add new path to tmpfs created folder in my.cnf 

Then  edit /etc/mysql/my.cnf

 

debian-server:~# vim /etc/mysql/my.cnf

[mysqld]
#
# * Basic Settings
#
user        = mysql
pid-file    = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.pid
socket      = /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock
port        = 3306
basedir     = /usr
datadir     = /var/lib/mysql
tmpdir      = /var/mysqltmp

 

On CentOS edit and change tmpdir in same way within /etc/my.cnf


d) Finally Restart Apache and MySQL to make mysql start using new set tmpfs memory kept folder

On Debian:
 

debian-server:~# /etc/init.d/apache2 stop; /etc/init.d/mysql restart; /etc/init.d/apache2 start

On CentOS:
 

[root@centos ~]# /etc/init.d/httpd stop; /etc/init.d/mysqld restart; /etc/initd/httpd start


Now monitor your server and check your pagespeed increase for me such an optimization usually improves site performance so site becomes +50% faster, to see the difference you can test your website before applying tmpfs caching for site and after that by using Google PageInsight (PageSpeed) Online Test. Though this example is for MySQL and WordPress you can easily adopt the same for Joomla if you have Joomla Caching enabled to some folder, same goes for any other CMS such as Drupal that can take use of Disk Caching. Actually its a small secret of many Hosting providers that allow clients to create sites via CPanel and Kloxo this tmpfs optimizations are already used for sites and by this the provider is able to offer better website service on lower prices. VPS hosting providers also use heavy caching. A lot of people are using TMPFS also to accelerate Sites that have enabled Google Pagespeed as Cacher and accelerator, as PageSpeed module puts a heavy HDD I/O load that can easily stone the server. Many admins also choose to use TMPFS for  /tmp, /var/run, and /var/lock directories as this leads often to significant overall server services operations improvement.
Once you have tmpfs enabled, It is a good idea to periodically monitor your SWAP used space with (df -h), because if you allocate bigger tmpfs partitions than your physical memory and tmpfs's full size starts to be used your machine will start swapping heavily and this could have a very negative performance affect.
 

debian-server:~# df -h|grep -i tmpfs
tmpfs            3,9G     0   3,9G   0% /lib/init/rw
tmpfs            3,9G     0   3,9G   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs            2,0G  1,4G   712M  66% /var/www/blog/wp-content/w3tc
tmpfs            256M     0   256M   0% /mnt/tmpfs
tmpfs            256M  236K   256M   1% /var/mysqltmp

The applications of tmpfs to accelerate services is up to your imagination, so I will be glad to hear from other admins on any interesting other application or problems faced while using TMPFS.

 Enjoy! 🙂

How to mount directory in memory on GNU / Linux and FreeBSD / Mount directory in RAM memory to increase performance on Linux and BSD

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

One of the websites hosted on a server I currently manage has a cache directory which doesn’t take much space but tens of thousands of tiny files. Each second a dozen of files are created in the cache dir. Hence using a hard disk directory puts some serious load on the server consequence of the many fopen and fclose HDD I/O operations.

To get through the problem, the solution was obvious use a directory which stores its information in memory.
There are of course other benefits of using a memory to store data in as we all know as access to RAM is so many times faster.

GNU/Linux is equipped with a tmpfs since kernel version 2.4.x, primary usage of tmpfs file system across many G / Linux distributious is the /tmp directory.

Some general tmpfs information about tmpfs is explained in mount’s manual e.g.: man mount, a good other reading is the tmpfs kernel documentation file

An implementation of tmpfs is /dev/shm .

/dev/shm is a standard memory device used among Linuces, its actually an ordinary directory one can list with ls . /dev/shm is used as a “virtual directory” memory space. Below is an output of /dev/shm from my notebook, one can see few files stored in memory which belong to the pulse audio linux architecture:

linux:~$ ls -al /dev/shm
ls -al /dev/shm/total 7608drwxrwxrwt 2 root root 160 Oct 10 18:05 .
drwxr-xr-x 16 root root 3500 Oct 10 10:57 ..
p-w------- 1 root root 0 Oct 10 10:57 acpi_fakekey
-r-------- 1 hipo hipo 67108904 Oct 10 17:20 pulse-shm-2067018443
-r-------- 1 hipo hipo 67108904 Oct 10 10:59 pulse-shm-2840042043
-r-------- 1 hipo hipo 67108904 Oct 10 10:59 pulse-shm-3215031142
-r-------- 1 hipo hipo 67108904 Oct 10 18:05 pulse-shm-4157723670
-r-------- 1 hipo hipo 67108904 Oct 10 18:06 pulse-shm-702872358

To measure the size of /dev/shm across different Linux distriubtions one can use the usual df cmd, e.g.:

[root@centos: ~]$ df -h /dev/shm
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
tmpfs 16G 0 16G 0% /dev/shm

Above I show a df -h /dev/shm output from a CentOS server equipped with 32 GB of memory, as you can see CentOS has reserved half of the size of the system memory (16GB) for the purposes of creating files in memory through /dev/shm. The memory is dynamically assigned, so if its not use the assigned memory by it can still be used for the purposes of the services running (which by the way is very nice).

Accoring to what, I’ve read in wikipedia about tmpfs, tmpfs defaults in Linux to half of the system physical memory.
However I’ve noticed Debian Linux hosts usually reserve less memory for /dev/shm, on my personal notebook Debian /dev/shm is only 1 Giga, where on a Debian running server, Debian automatically has set it to the humble 2GB. Setting less by the way as with the Debian example, is a rather good idea since not many desktop or server applications are written to get actively advantage of the virtual /dev/shm directory.

One can directly drop files in /dev/shm which will immediately be stored in memory, and after a system reboot the files will disappear.
Let’s say you zip archive file, testing.zip and you like to store the file in memory to do so, just copy the file in /dev/shm.

linux:~$ cp -rpf testing.zip /dev/shm

You don’t even need to be root to copy files in the “virtual memory directory”. This is a reason many crackers (script kiddies), are storing their cracking tools in /dev/shm 😉

A rather funny scenario, I’ve witness before is when you list /dev/shm on some Linux server and suddenly you see a tons of brute forcing tools and all kind of “hack” related stuff belonging to some system user. Sometimes even this malicious script tools belong to the root user…

Now as I’ve said a few words on how linux’s tmpfs works here is how to mount a directory which cache content will be stored in volatile memory:

linux:~# mount -t tmpfs -o size=3G,mode=0755 tmpfs /var/www/site/cache

As you can see the above command will dynamically assign a tmpfs directory taking up from the system RAM mem which could expand up to 3GB within the system memory.

Of course before mounting, its necessery to create the /var/www/site/cache and set proper permissions in the above example I use /var/www/site/cache with a default permissions of 755 which is owned by the use with which the Apache server is running, e.g.:

linux:~# mkdir -p /var/www/site/cache
linux:~# chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/site/cache
linux:~# chmod -R 755 /var/www/site/cache

Using a tmpfs is very handy and have many advantages, however one should be very careful with the data stored inside a tmpfs dir resource, all data will be lost in case of sudden system restart as the data is stored in the memory.
One other problems one might expect with tmpfs would be if the assigned virtual disk space gets filled with data. It never happened to me but, I’ve red online some stories that in the past this led to system crashes, today as the dox I’ve checked prescribed overfilling it will start swapping make the system terribly sluggish and eventually afred depleting the reserver swap space will start killing processes.

Using tmpfs as a cache directory is very useful on servers running Apache+PHP/Perl/Python/Ruby etc. as it can be used for stroring script generated temorary data.

Using a tmpfs can signifantly decrease server i/o created disk overheads.

Some other application I can think of though, I haven’t tested it would be if tmpfs mounted directory is used to store scripting executable files, copied after restart. Executing the script reading it directly from the “virtual directory” could for sure have very good impact especially on huge websites.
One common service which takes advantage of the elegancy of tmpfs nowdays almost all modern GNU/Linux has is udevd – The Linux dynamic device management. By the way (man udev) is a very good and must read manual especially for Linux novices to get a good basic idea on how /dev/ mamagement occurs via udev.

To make permenant directory contained in memory on Linux the /etc/fstab file should be used.

In order to mount permanently a directory as a memory device of a size of 3GB with 0755 permissions in /var/www/site/cache, as shown in the earlier example, one can use the command:

linux:~# echo 'tmpfs /var/www/site/cache/ tmpfs size=3G,mode=0755 0 0' >> /etc/fstab

This will assure the directory stored in memory would be recreated on next boot.

Nowdays the use of tmpfs is constantly growing, I’ve seen it to be used as a way to substitute ordinary disk based /tmp with a tmpfs directory contained in memory in Cloud Linux OS.
The applications of tmpfs is pretty much to the imagination of the one who wants to get advantage of it. For sure using tmpfs will be seen by the Linux GUI programs.

Going to FreeBSD and the BSD world, tmpfs is also available, however it is still considered a bit experimental. To get use of tmpfs to gain some performance, one should first enable it via bsd’s /etc/rc.conf:

freebsd# echo 'tmpfs_load="YES"' >> /etc/rc.conf

Mounting a directory permanently using tmpfs persmanently it again is doable via /etc/fstab to add a new directory inside memory with tmpfs: is done with adding:

freebsd# echo 'tmpfs /var/www/site/cache tmpfs rw 0 0' >> /etc/fstab

The native equivallent of tmpfs in FreeBSD is called mdmfs.
As I said it is slower than tmpfs but rock solid.

To mount a 4gigabyte size mdmfs “ram directory” on BSD from csh:

freebsd# mdmfs -s 4g md /var/www/site/cache

Mounting a directory permanently using tmpfs persmanently it again is doable via /etc/fstab to add a new directory inside memory with tmpfs: is done with adding:

freebsd# echo 'tmpfs /var/www/site/cache tmpfs rw 0 0' >> /etc/fstab

The native equivallent of tmpfs in FreeBSD is called mdmfs.
As I said it is slower than tmpfs but rock solid.

To mount a 4gigabyte size mdmfs “ram directory” on BSD from csh:

freebsd# mdmfs -s 4g md /var/www/site/cache

Mounting a directory permanently using tmpfs persmanently it again is doable via /etc/fstab to add a new directory inside memory with tmpfs: is done with adding:

freebsd# echo 'md /var/www/site/cache mfs rw,-s4G 2 0' >> /etc/fstab There are some reports of users who presumable use it to increase the ports / kernel compile times, but I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know for sure

In huge corporations like Google and Yahoo tmpfs is certanly used a lot as this technology can dramatically can improve access times to information.I’m curious to know for some good ways to get use of tmpfs to improve efficiency.
If someone has some readings or has some idea please shar with me 😉