Java 2 Ada

Integration of Ada Web Server behind an Apache Server

By Stephane Carrez

When you run several web applications implemented in various languages (php, Java, Ada), you end up with some integration issue. The PHP application runs within an Apache Server, the Java application must runs in a Java web server (Tomcat, Jetty), and the Ada application executes within the Ada Web Server. Each of these web servers need a distinct listening port or distinct IP address. Integration of several web servers on the same host, is often done by using a front-end server that handles all incomming requests and dispatches them if necessary to other web servers.

In this article I describe the way I have integrated the Ada Web Server. The Apache Server is the front-end server that serves the PHP files as well as the static files and it redirects some requests to the Ada Web Server.

Virtual host definition

The Apache Server can run more than one web site on a single machine. The Virtual hosts can be IP-based or name-based. We will use the later because it provides a greater scalability. The virtual host definition is bound to the server IP address and the listening port.

<VirtualHost *:80>
  ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
  ServerAlias demo.vacs.fr
  ServerName demo.vacs.fr
...
  LogLevel warn
  ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/demo-error.log
  CustomLog /var/log/apache2/demo-access.log combined
</VirtualHost>

The ServerName part is matched against the Host: request header that is received by the Apache server.

The ErrorLog and CustomLog are not part of the virtual hosts definition but they allow to use dedicated logs which is useful for trouble shotting issues.

Setting up the proxy

The Apache mod_proxy module must be enabled. This is the module that will redirect the incomming requests to the Ada Web Server.

  <Proxy *>
    AddDefaultCharset off
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
  </Proxy>

Redirection rules

The Apache mod_rewrite module must be enabled.

  RewriteEngine On

A first set of rewriting rules will redirect the request to dynamic pages to the Ada Web Server. The [P] flag activates the proxy and redirects the request. The Ada Web Server is running on the same host but is using port 8080.

  # Let AWS serve the dynamic HTML pages.
  RewriteRule ^/demo/(.*).html$ http://localhost:8080/demo/$1.html [P]
  RewriteRule ^/demo/auth/(.*)$ http://localhost:8080/demo/auth/$1 [P]
  RewriteRule ^/demo/statistics.xml$ http://localhost:8080/demo/statistics.xml [P]

When the request is redirected, the mod_proxy will add a set of headers that can be used within AWS if necessary.

Via: 1.1 demo.vacs.fr
X-Forwarded-For: 31.39.214.181
X-Forwarded-Host: demo.vacs.fr
X-Forwarded-Server: demo.vacs.fr

The X-Forwarded-For: header indicates the IP address of client.

Static files

Static files like images, CSS and javascript files can be served by the Apache front-end server. This is faster than proxying these requests to the Ada Web Server. At the same time we can setup some expiration and cache headers sent in the response (Expires: and Cache-Control: respectively). The definition below only deal with images that are accessed from the /demo/images/ URL component. The Alias directive tells you how to map the URL to the directory on the file system that holds the files.

  Alias /demo/images/ "/home/htdocs.demo/web/images/"
  <Directory "/home/htdocs.demo/web/images/">
    Options -Indexes +FollowSymLinks

    # Do not check for .htaccess (perf. improvement)
    AllowOverride None
    Order allow,deny
    allow from all
                                                 
    # enable expirations
    ExpiresActive On
                                  
    # Activate the browser caching
    # (CSS, images and scripts should not change)
    ExpiresByType image/png A1296000
    ExpiresByType image/gif A1296000
    ExpiresByType image/jpg A1296000
  </Directory>

This kind of definition is repeated for each set of static files (javascript and css).

Proxy Overhead

The proxy adds a small overhead that you can measure by using the Apache Benchmark tool. A first run is done on AWS and another on Apache.

ab -n 1000 http://localhost:8080/demo/compute.html
ab -n 1000 http://demo.vacs.fr/demo/compute.html

The overhead will depend on the application and the page being served. On this machine, the AWS server can process arround 720 requests/sec and this is reduced to 550 requests/sec through the Apache front-end (23% decrease).

Boost your php web site by installing eAccelerator

By Stephane Carrez 1 comment

This article explains how to boost the performance of a PHP site by installing a PHP accelerator software.

Why is PHP slow

PHP is an interpreted language that requires to parse the PHP files for each request received by the server. With a compiled language such as Java or Ada, this long and error prone process is done beforehand. Even if the PHP interpretor is optimized, this parsing step can be long. The situation is worse when you use a framework (Symfony, CakePHP,...) that requires many PHP files to be scanned.

eAccelerator to the rescue

eAccelerator is a module that reduces this performance issue by introducing a shared cache for the PHP pre-compiled files. The module somehow compiles the PHP files in some internal compiled state and makes this available to the apache2 processes through a shared memory segment.

Installing eAccelerator

First get eAccelerator sources at http://eaccelerator.net/

Then extract the tar.bz2 file on your server:

$ tar xvjf eaccelerator-0.9.6.1.tar.bz2
eaccelerator-0.9.6.1/
eaccelerator-0.9.6.1/COPYING
...

Build eAccelerator module

Before building the module you must first run the phpize command to prepare the module before compilation:

$ cd eaccelerator-0.9.6.1/
$ phpize

Then, launch the configure script:

$ ./configure --enable-eaccelerator=shared \
    --with-php-config=/usr/bin/php-config

Finally build the module:

$ make

Install eAccelerator

Installation is done by the next steps:

$ sudo make install

Don't forget to copy the configuration file (have a look at its content but in most cases it works as is):

$ sudo cp eaccelerator.ini  /etc/php5/conf.d/

Restart Apache server

To make the module available, you have to restart the Apache server:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

Performance improvements

What performance gain can you expect... That will depend on the PHP software and the page. It's easy to have an idea.

To measure the performance improvement, you can use the Apache benchmarking tool. Do a performance measurement on the web site before the installation and another one after. Be sure to benchmark the same page.

The following command will benchmark the http://mysite.mydomain.com/index.php page 100 times with only one connection.

$ ab -n 100 http://mysite.mydomain.com/index.php

Below is an extract of the percentage of the requests served within a certain time (ms) for one of my web page served by Dotclear:

         Without        with
        eAccelerator  eAccelerator
 50%       383           236
 66%       384           237
 75%       387           238
 80%       388           239
 90%       393           258
 95%       425           265
 98%       536           295
 99%       796           307
100%       796           307 (longest request)

The gain varies from 38% to 60% so it is quite interesting. The other benefit is that the variance is also smaller meaning that requests are served globally in the same time.

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Apache and JBoss integration with mod_rewrite and mod_proxy

By Stephane Carrez 1 comment

To integrate JBoss behind an Apache server you often use the mod_jk module. There is another solution which combines the use of Apache mod_rewrite and mod_proxy

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Transparent Web server migration with Apache proxy

By Stephane Carrez 1 comment

When you do a server relocation you get a new server, install it, configure it and make sure your new Web server is ready to go. During this installation, the old server was still running. Now, it is time to make the switch. This article discusses one is

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Deploying a J2EE application behind an Apache server in a production environment

By Stephane Carrez

You have created a Web application using a JBoss application server and you are going to put it in production. Great!

But deploying your application with JBoss serving the Web requests directly may not be the optimal solution. First because the Tomcat

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