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We run Apache version 2.2.8-1ubuntu0.15 on our VPS instance of Ubuntu 8.04.4 LTS \n \l, as I determined by asking this question.

When I issue pgrep apache2, I get the following:


That's 11 seperate instances of apache2! Is this normal? If not, what should I do about it?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes. Apache works like a traditional unix daemon, whereby:

  • Main program waits for an incoming request (blocks on a socket)
  • After receiving the request, the fork() system call is used, which causes the main process to clone itself
  • The main process then waits again for another request
  • The forked copy proceeds to handle the request, and terminates

Forking does consume time, so Apache preforks several instances in anticipation of handling multiple requests. This is totally configurable via /etc/apache2.conf. I can't think of the exact directives right now, but it's probably explained in the comments.

If you expect to handle sudden bursts of concurrrent HTTP requests, then it benefits you to have a lot of instances standing by to take them. The tradeoff is this consumes more memory.

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What you say makes sense. I don't want to mess with this if it's by design. But one thing: I don't seem to have an /etc/apache2.conf file. Is this normal? – Iain Elder Sep 4 '10 at 4:01
@isme ultrasawblade simply forgot the apache2 dir so it's really /etc/apache2/apache2.conf – Rob Olmos Sep 4 '10 at 4:21

If you're looking to lower this number use the MinSpareServers and MaxSpareServers directives:

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+1 for the documentation. Is this Apache's default behavior? If it is then I have no reason to change it for now. – Iain Elder Sep 4 '10 at 4:06
Yes it is. If you look at the description box there's a term for "Default" where it specifies the default value (should you not specify it) for that directive. In this case it's 10 for Max and 5 for Min. Usually the distro's default config will specify them. – Rob Olmos Sep 4 '10 at 4:26

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