ColdFusion Muse

Troubleshooting and Optimizing Solr on ColdFusion 9

I had an interesting troubleshooting session recently with a customer. This customer had a very high powered server - SAS drives, 16 gigs of RAM, 64 bit throughout, Coldfusion 9 and an 8 gig Java Heap. The site had 70 or 80 search collections and they had switched to CF9 specifically to get beyond the limitations of Verity. Everything was performing well when suddenly the search service stopped responding to requests and simply started throwing "collection not found" errors. Coldfusion seemed fine and dandy. It continued to be responsive and it had no hanging threads. It was as if the search service had lost it's handles to the various collections. Restarting Solr solved the issue, but why was Solr locking up?

A closer look showed that Solr wasn't crashing. Indeed, both of the services associated with Solr ("ColdFusion 9 Solr Service" and ColdFusion 9 Search Server") were running. In fact, on reflection it was clear that the Solr service was actually still responding to requests - it was simply throwing errors. So Solr actually had to be running, or we would see the "service not found" type error - right? Now the Muse is not yet a Solr guru, so this was trial and error. But the first thought was to go and see if there were any Solr log files. Sure enough I found them under /Coldfusion9/solr/logs. There were 3 logs listed - a "request" log, a "stderr" log and a "stdout" log, each with a date as part of the name. Hmmmm..... 2 of those logs look sort of familiar don't they? The "standard out" log or stdout (never been comfortable with the abbreviation "std") and the "standard error" log or stderr both remind me of conventional java logging.

Of course! Solr is a Java application under the hood. So troubleshooting Solr will be like troubleshooting any other Java application. I took a look at stderr and sure enough - recent errors were all "out of memory" Java heap errors. I know how to handle that - increase the heap size and fiddle with the Java arguments. I was well on my way to editing the JVM.config file when I had a different thought. Solr was running out of heap space but ColdFusion was not running out of heap space. After all, if I was having an overall memory problem I would expect ColdFusion to lock up as well. That means Solr runs in a separate JVM. Of course it does (doh!). That's why it has a service and a connection socket. What I really need is to find the jvm.config file (or whatever) for Solr and adjust the memory settings there.

In the root of /ColdFusion9/solr I found a little file called "solr.lax". You might remember a similar .lax file that I edited to get a 64bit install to complete on a windows 2k3 "web edition" (details here). It's actually a config file for an "executable jar" file compiled by a product called "launchAnwhere" - which I gather is basically "installsheild" for Java. Anyway, this file is bundled with an executable jar and contains the useful stuff the exe file will need to instantiate a JVM and get up and running.

In this case there were 2 lines we were interested in. The first one had a setting like this:

# -----------------
# the VM to use for the next launch\\ColdFusion9\\runtime\\jre\\bin\\javaw.exe
This line tells us that the Solr search service is going to use the same JVM as the ColdFusion engine. That's pretty good news because we already know a good deal about preventing and troubleshooting out of memory errors in Sun JRE version 1.6 (the default shipping with CF 9).

The other line of interest was further down and looked like this: -Xmx256m 
-XX:+AggressiveOpts -XX:+ScavengeBeforeFullGC
-XX:-UseParallelGC -DSTOP.PORT=8079
-DSTOP.KEY=cfstop -Dsolr.solr.home=multicore
Now this looks mighty familiar. It's our Java arguments to instantiate our JVM and configure it for use. What can we deduce from this set of arguments? Well, to start with, Solr is configured to use a minimum of zero and a maximum of 256 megs of memory. It's also set up to aggressively recover heap space. In our special situation we need to get Solr more memory and more resources to work with. We changed the GC to -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC, removed the aggressive options, and set the minimum and maximum both to one Gig (-Xms1024m -Xmx1024m). Sure enough after a restart our memory problems went away and Solr started performing splendidly.

Lessons Learned

Solr is a big step up from the old Verity services, but in the words of Uncle Ben (Peter Parker's uncle - not the rice guy) "With great power comes great responsibility". Now that we have something we can scale for our use we have one more thing we have to carefully tune and account for in our resource planning.

Jon Briccetti's Gravatar mark - as usual, you totally punish - thanks for this writeup I'm delving into solr now aand this kinda stuff is invaluable! thanks!
# Posted By Jon Briccetti | 6/21/10 6:46 PM
Jeff Coughlin's Gravatar Thanks for the tip on which file to edit (we have some decent sized collections and were running out of memory with them).

However, I just tried setting a min and max (both to 1GB) and couldn't get Solr to work without setting a permSize and maxPermSize as well. Maybe it's because I'm using CF 9.0.1 which had major Solr changes? Anyway, hopefully someone else might find that helpful if they get stuck.
# Posted By Jeff Coughlin | 10/1/10 9:06 PM
Kelly's Gravatar Thanks for the post, I'm looking into trying SOLR. :)
# Posted By Kelly | 1/6/11 5:43 PM
Satyam's Gravatar Hi
How to convert one application into multiple languages in cold fusion.
one application developed in English i want to convert it into Telugu,Hindi .. etc give me raply
# Posted By Satyam | 1/21/11 1:12 AM
Leon Chalnick's Gravatar Thanks for posting this; I'm having "out of memory" issues with a HUGE solr collection as well so I think your post may be very valuable. I'm not familiar with java app configuration. Can you explain what you mean by "We changed the GC to -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC, removed the aggressive options, and set the minimum and maximum both to one Gig (-Xms1024m -Xmx1024m). " What's the GC? Also, are these options documented anywhere? I noted that poster Jeff Coughlin was aware of some other params (maxPermSize, etc.)...I'm concerned about what other params there may be that I am unaware of...
# Posted By Leon Chalnick | 10/13/11 12:36 AM
Charlie Arehart's Gravatar Just wanted to add a minor point of clarification to this blog entry, in case it's found by future readers searching for related content (just as I found it today).

In CF10 and above, the file for modifying the JVM settings for Solr is now the jetty.lax (rather than solr.lax as it was for CF9). Also, the location is a bit different: \[cf10]\cfusion\jetty, or [cf10]\[instancename]\jetty if you have created a new CF10 Enterprise instance.

Hope that's helpful.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 7/15/14 12:25 AM

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