[Spread-users] Communicating between 130 hosts with Spread

Christopher Browne cbbrowne at afilias.info
Tue Aug 6 12:02:25 EDT 2013

On Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 10:03 AM, John Schultz
<jschultz at spreadconcepts.com>wrote:

> > Out of curiosity, do you know of any AIX users?
> I personally do not know of any AIX users, but if any are on the list they
> might chime in?
> Spread is written in very portable C, uses autoconf to try to detect
> system specifics and mainly depends on the Berkeley socket interface.  I
> see little reason why running Spread on a *nix clone like AIX should be
> difficult.

Obviously not an AIX user! ;-)

My environment used to use AIX a fair bit, albeit not for Spread; I would
not be surprised if there are some issues compiling & running it, that is
quite common, as AIX is definitely a bit different.  Alas, I can't help; we
recently retired the AIX portion of the environment.  Once upon a time, I
found problems in the TCP/IP stack when trying to get Postgres working on

> I presume that client failover between daemons is something we'd need to
> handle ourselves. If we do lose communication with a daemon, or a daemon
> goes down, how quickly will we find out about it?
> Yes, you'd have to handle failover at your client application.  How
> quickly you would find out about a problem depends first on whether or not
> you are on the same machine or not.
> If you are on the same machine, then basically the only failure that can
> occur is if Spread crashes.  In such a case, using IPC, then you should get
> almost immediate notice on your connection that it has failed.
> If you are connecting remotely through TCP, then the usual TCP mechanisms
> would determine when you get notice.  If just the Spread process crashes,
> then usually you should quickly get notices from its host that the
> connection is dead.  If the remote machine suddenly fails (e.g. - power
> failure) or the network suddenly partitions, then you usually need to send
> some traffic from the client (e.g. - a no-op message to an empty group or
> yourself) to realize that the host is gone.
> Spread does offer the ability to use TCP's keep alive semantics, but for
> them to be actually useful you have to set TCP's keep alive parameters
> system wide at the OS level on both sides of the connection as the default
> is usually something like 75 minutes or two hours before TCP probes are
> sent.
> Thinking about this some more, in the future we might want to add the
> ability to explicitly probe the TCP connection, but not have it be a full
> Spread message.  That is, for no-op messages to periodically go between the
> server and client and not need to bother the whole Spread deployment.  The
> client would still have to explicitly call this fcn periodically though, as
> the Spread library does not have its own thread of control.  We'd probably
> have to use the out-of-band mechanisms of TCP to do this ... I'll need to
> think about it some more.

I suspect that you may want to encourage changing the default keepalive
parameters.  (tcp_keepalive_intvl, tcp_keepalive_probes, tcp_keepalive_time
are the values indicated by "man 7 tcp")

The defaults were pretty logical years back, when connectivity to the
Internet was somewhat unusual and definitely intermittent.  Would-be
"highly available" systems of today need to have a rather shorter leash.
In particular, it is nowhere near reasonable to need to wait hours for
things to timeout, especially if you might be doing special things like
setting up devoted network segments/connections/interfaces.

On Linux, the keepalive values are:
- time - 7200s - how long a connection needs to be idle before probes start
to be sent
- interval - 75s - how long between keepalive probes
- probes - 9 - how many probes before giving up

Those defaults (effective since Linux 2.4) indicate that things won't
timeout for 2 hours and 12 minutes.  Other Unix flavours most likely have
similar values, and they're all most likely rather too long.
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