I'm performance testing my Java based web application (Grails) that is deployed on Tomcat. The server has the below services running on it:

  • Apache HTTPD
  • Apache Tomcat
  • MySql
  • RabbitMQ

Even though I understand that in an ideal world these services would be running on three separate servers but I just want to see how my application behaves to some load. I've found that running 20 threads with ramp-up period over 40 seconds seems to make the server unresponsive. However, I can't pin-point what exactly is causing the server to become unresponsive

At the time I'd be SSH'd in but when it becomes unresponsive I can no longer even SSH into the machine. Here is the data from TOP when it becomes unresponsive and I can't even SSH into it. It doesn't seem to suggest why it would become unresponsive.

enter image description here


  • How can I debug what is causing the server to become unresponsive?
  • If you have epel then I recommend installing atop as it is basically top but written to a file: yum install atop; service atop start ; chkconfig atop on (optional); reproduce the problem ; atop -r /var/log/atop/atop.log. If that's not possible then write a script which uses top in batch mode. – Jason Zhu Oct 15 '14 at 19:21

The first thing I would do is reduce the likelyhood that any of those processes can take more CPU or disk IO time than the OS. I am going to assume your OS is linux.

Be sure to back up any config files before editing them.

You may be able to get some hints to the OS behavior just prior to the crash by looking at sar data.

sar -A | more

Be sure to look for a climb in memory or CPU usage. You can have sar run more often by editing /etc/cron.d/sysstat assuming it is installed and enabled.

For each of the service accounts your processes are running as, you could add the following to /etc/security/limits.conf at the end of the file.

apache      soft    priority    19
apache      hard    priority    19
rabbitmq    soft    priority    18
rabbitmq    hard    priority    18
mysql       soft    priority    10
mysql       hard    priority    10

Then in each of the init scripts for your daemons, reduce the CPU and IO time allotted to them.

cp -p /etc/rc.d/init.d/some_init_script ~/`date '+%Y%m%d.%H%M'`.some_init_script
vi /etc/rc.d/init.d/some_init_script

Add the following on the second line of the script to reduce CPU and IO time slices:

renice 19 -p $$ > /dev/null 2>&1
ionice -c3 -p $$ > /dev/null 2>&1

Restart each of your services.

Let's assume that sshd will still become unresponsive. If you install "screen", then you can have vmstat, iotop and other tools running in various screens. There are cheat sheets on using screen so I will not cover that here.

At this point, even if your services are getting out of control, you should still have the ability to ssh to the server assuming it is not triggering a panic.

You can further restrict the resources allocated to each daemon by pinning them to a specific core or CPU. This can be done with the command "taskset". man taskset for more details on its usage.

[edit] I should also add that this won't help under certain spinlock conditions. If the above does not help, you may have to run your applications in a VM and use a debug kernel or other debugging tools.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.