Killing The Bland

Posted on 3rd July 2008

For those that have suffered with accessing my sites over the past month, I have to apologise. In the first instance it appears that a TLS library wasn't playing well with XEN, the virtual server management system, which runs my server on a physical machine in Amsterdam. Having sorted that one out, with some library upgrades, I noticed that the perl applications running my sites were occasionally going into overload and failing to end, due to what appeared to be hanging I/O requests. I'm still not certain why, but have put some measures in place to reduce the I/O requests.

However, while investigating the server process and open files, etc, I noticed that there were rather a large number of cronjobs running, including several that had nothing to do with anything I'd set up manually. The most resource hogging ones appeared to be PHP related, both for php4 and php5. Seeing as I don't run any PHP on the server, I looked to getting rid of them. It took a while to trace, but it appears that the mod-php4 and mod-php5 had got installed with apache2, possibly following an upgrade I did recently, but the associated packages had all been installed too. I have now removed about 20 packages and several thousand files from the server, which has freed up a bit of disc space, but also stopped several cronjobs, thus reducing the load on the server. I'm hoping this solves the recent overload issues, but if it doesn't at least it might last a bit longer before keeling over!

I've been monitoring the box for the last couple of days and everything looks to be running fine again. If you suffer anything similar, I suggest looking in /etc/cron.d and related directories for things that you really don't expect to be running.


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