murdering high-memory workers and auto-scaling

Ben Somers somers.ben at
Thu Mar 1 23:52:07 UTC 2012

Two ideas, one more controversial than the other.
First: auto-killing bloated workers. My current app has some memory
leakage that wasn't really visible on our older passenger setup, since
the auto-scaling meant that bloated workers got killed periodically.
In a perfect world, we'd find and patch all of the leaks, but in the
meantime (and as a safety net) I'd like to get the bloated workers
auto-killed. It looks like it'd be simple to add in a bloated-worker
check at the same point when we check for timeout violations, and it
could be hidden behind a config setting. Alternately, I could write
this in a separate script.

Pros: might be a useful built-in feature, looks easy to implement the killing
Cons: Getting the memory usage might actually be surprisingly
difficult. Comparing to passenger's memory management code, where they
actually use platform-specific system calls, and we might get a
sizeable quantity of code that we don't want dirtying up the unicorn
internals. Also, some methods of checking appear to have performance

Second: in my use case, I have webservers running as VMs, sharing a
physical box with backend utility servers. The util servers run lots
of very CPU- and memory-hungry jobs, mostly at night; the webservers
handle requests, mostly in the daytime. Currently, most of these
webservers are running passenger, which is very polite about not using
more resources than it needs to handle requests. Unicorn, by contrast
(and by design) is very resource-greedy, what with the "scale to what
you can theoretically handle" strategy. If I spin down my number of
unicorn workers when they're not needed, I free up resources for my
util servers, which is important. TTOU and TTIN signals give me a
(very nice) means to write an auto-scaling module outside of unicorn,
but it might be nice to have it included as an optional component. (I
expect this will get voted down, as I expect the dev team is not
interested in it).

Happy to work on implementing these myself, just wanted to poll to see
if it'd be worth developing them as part of unicorn proper rather than
standalone scripts.


More information about the mongrel-unicorn mailing list