Nginx Performance Tuning

Many useful tools can tell you on what and where web pages optimizations can be made. For example, Firefox's PageSpeed addon (requiring firebug) or Yslow point out for you the optimizations you could make on your server. Let's say we have a running Nginx installation on which we would like to tweak a few parameters.

Enable compression

Gzip compression can greatly reduce the size of static file. And by greatly, I really mean greatly. Try it yourself !

# ls -al |grep index.html
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data adm      133986 2010-03-10 22:48 index.html

# gzip -9 -c index.html > index.html.gz

# ls -al |grep index.html
-rw-r--r--  1 www-data adm      133986 2010-03-10 22:48 index.html
-rw-r--r--  1 root     root      11317 2010-04-12 12:34 index.html.gz

# gzip  -l index.html.gz
         compressed        uncompressed  ratio uncompressed_name
              11317              133986  91.6% index.html

Compression ratio is 91% ! It means that, instead of sending 133986 bytes of data (which represents at least 90 full TCP packets over Ethernet, not counting handshake), your server will only send 11317 bytes (only 8 packets !).

Nginx can use GZIP compression. However, such feature must be used carefully because some browsers, like IE6 and previous, don't support it.

Gzip compression is configured globally in /etc/nginx/nginx.conf in the 'http' directive (you can also configure it for each 'server' directive). Let's take a closer look at the configuration :

http {

    [...]

    gzip  on;
    gzip_static on;
    gzip_comp_level 9;
    gzip_min_length 1400;
    gzip_types  text/plain text/css image/png image/gif image/jpeg application/x-javascript text/xml application/xml application/x
ml+rss text/javascript;
    gzip_vary  on;
    gzip_http_version 1.1;
    gzip_disable "MSIE [1-6]\.(?!.*SV1)";
}

gzip on

Activate gzip compression.

gzip_static on

This feature allow you to use static GZipped versions of your files (you need to create them yourself) and serve those gzipped files directly through Nginx. Nginx just looks for a filename identical to the one requested by the browsers, but with a “.gz” extension (eg. if 'index.html' is requested, nginx will look for a 'index.html.gz' file next to it). If it exists, Nginx serves this -already compressed- file and does not perform gzip compression, thus reducing CPU overhead and response time.

If the “.gz” file does not exist, Nginx serves the original file and realizes the gzip compression on the fly.

The trade-off there is that you need to have 2 versions of your statics. There are patches to avoid that, but I am not going to cover them here. It also means that, if you modify the original, you need to regenerate the gzipped file as well.

You can test nginx behavior as follow:

  1. create a file “testgzip.html” containing the text: “Hello world, file generated at unixtime 1271070001”
  2. gzip the file using 'gzip -9 -c testgzip.html > testgzip.html.gz'
  3. get the file using curl (with compression support activated) : 'curl http://nginxserver/testgzip.html –compressed', it displays the expected text
  4. now, change the original file's content to: “Hello world, file generated at unixtime 1271070001 modified at 1271071107”
  5. get the file with curl again, it still displays the original text…

When using gzip_static, you need to constantly make sure that your gzipped versions are up to date !

A simple way to keep gzipped files up to date is to use the following script. It checks the modification timestamp of all the original files (matching the extensions) and re-generate the corresponding gzipped files if needed.

#! /bin/bash
 
# this script checks a list of directories for a list of extensions and
# generated gzipped versions of the files that are found
#
# if the modification date of a file is newer than its gzipped version
# then the gzip file is regenerated
 
# specify a filetype like *.css or a filename like index.html
# leave one space between entries
FILETYPES="*.css *.jpg *.jpeg *.gif *.png *.js *.html"
 
# specify a list of directories to check recursively
DIRECTORIES="/var/www/nginx_default/*"
 
for currentdir in $DIRECTORIES
do
   for extension in $FILETYPES
   do
      find $currentdir -iname $extension -exec bash -c 'PLAINFILE={};GZIPPEDFILE={}.gz; \
         if [ -e $GZIPPEDFILE ]; \
         then   if [ `stat --printf=%Y $PLAINFILE` -gt `stat --printf=%Y $GZIPPEDFILE` ]; \
                then    echo "$GZIPPEDFILE outdated, regenerating"; \
                        gzip -9 -f -c $PLAINFILE > $GZIPPEDFILE; \
                 fi; \
         else echo "$GZIPPEDFILE is missing, creating it"; \
              gzip -9 -c $PLAINFILE > $GZIPPEDFILE; \
         fi' \;
   done
done

Launch it via crontab every 2 hours and yours statics should be reasonably up to date.

Roman Stingler contributed a bash script that is slightly smarter than mine. Feel free to test it.

#! /bin/bash

FILETYPES=( "*.html" "*.woff" "*.css" "*.jpg" "*.jpeg" "*.gif" "*.png" "*.js"  )
# specify a list of directories to check recursively
DIRECTORIES="/var/www/gr3at-html5-app/"

for currentdir in $DIRECTORIES
do
   for i in "${FILETYPES[@]}"
   do
      find $currentdir -iname "$i" -exec bash -c 'PLAINFILE={};GZIPPEDFILE={}.gz; \
         if [ -e $GZIPPEDFILE ]; \
         then   if [ `stat --printf=%Y $PLAINFILE` -gt `stat --printf=%Y $GZIPPEDFILE` ]; \
                then    echo "$GZIPPEDFILE outdated, regenerating"; \
                        gzip -9 -f -c $PLAINFILE > $GZIPPEDFILE; \
                 fi; \
         else echo "$GZIPPEDFILE is missing, creating it"; \
              gzip -9 -c $PLAINFILE > $GZIPPEDFILE; \
         fi' \;
  done
done

gzip_comp_level

Gzip can compress at different levels. Level 9 takes more CPU but creates smaller files.

gzip_min_length

Compression is useful only on size reasonably big. If the content to be returned can fit into one single TCP packet, then compressing it is useless for, at least, two reasons:

  1. we will need this TCP packet to send the compressed content anyway;
  2. CPU overhead might be higher than network delivery time

'gzip_min_length' defines the minimum size a HTTP response should be to be compressed. By setting this value to 1400 bytes, we basically say “compress if size is bigger than the MTU”.

This directive doesn't apply if a static .gz files is available in the directory. In this case, the .gz file will be served whatever its size might be.

gzip_types

The list of MIME types eligible to compression.

gzip_vary

Set the Vary HTTP header as defined in the RFC.

gzip_http_version

Require that client announce HTTP 1.1 to use compression

gzip_disable

Disable compression for user-agents that match the corresponding regex (== do not use compression with IE 6 and previous).

Test it

Restart your Nginx configuration with those parameters and verify the sizes of yours requests using Firebug.

Before (without gzip):

After (with gzip):

That is a gain of 38% in responses size. Of course, the results completely depends on the type of content you serve, but if it's mostly static text files with a few images, like most websites, then you should see interesting results here.

Expires Header

For a browser to be able to cache content, the response from the HTTP server MUST contain an 'Expires' header. It indicates to the browser for how long it can keep the content in its local cache. Nginx can set the Expires header on the HTTP responses based on the type of content it's serving. You should set this value in accordance to your website goals and structure. I personally find acceptable to set an Expires value of 72 hours for all static contents, since I don't change my CSS and images on a regular basis.

This time, the configuration is realized in the 'server' section (the values mostly depends on the website type). So, in the server description, we have the following:

server {
        listen   80;
        server_name  jve.linuxwall.info;

        [ ... ]

        #cache control: all statics are cacheable for 24 hours
        location / {
                if ($request_uri ~* \.(ico|css|js|gif|jpe?g|png)$) {
                        expires 72h;
                        break;
                }
        }
}

The location directive is set to “/”, which means this applies to all the ressources located under the root. Then, we create a regular expression that is case insensitive (thanks to the star character in ~* ). The regular expression will match any for the following types:

  • ico: icon images
  • css: the style sheets
  • js: javascripts
  • gif, jpg, jpeg and png: the images

For all of those types, the 'expires' directive will set two HTTP Header similar to these ones:

Expires: Wed, 14 Apr 2010 08:44:29 GMT
Cache-Control: max-age=86400

SoMe useful informations from the RFC:

  • The Expires entity-header field gives the date/time after which the response is considered stale.
  • The Cache-Control general-header field is used to specify directives that MUST be obeyed by all caching mechanisms along the request/response chain.

The expiration time of an entity MAY be specified by the origin server using the Expires header (see section 14.21). Alternatively, it MAY be specified using the max-age directive in a response.

If a response includes both an Expires header and a max-age directive, the max-age directive overrides the Expires header, even if the Expires header is more restrictive.

php5-xcache

Install xcache:

aptitude install php5-xcache

If nginx run in a chroot, you need to copy the following files:

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# cp /usr/lib/php5/20090626/xcache.so usr/lib/php5/20090626/

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# cp /etc/php5/conf.d/xcache.ini etc/php5/conf.d/

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# mknod -m 0666 /var/www/chroot/dev/zero c 1 5

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# chmod 777 tmp/

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# mkdir var/www/xcache

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# cp -r /usr/share/xcache/* var/www/xcache/

sachiel:/var/www/chroot# chown chroot-nginx:chroot-nginx var/www/xcache/ -R

Configure Xcache in its xcache.ini file:

[xcache-common]
;; install as zend extension (recommended), normally "$extension_dir/xcache.so"
zend_extension = /usr/lib/php5/20090626/xcache.so
 
[xcache.admin]
xcache.admin.enable_auth = On
; Configure this to use admin pages
xcache.admin.user = "admin"
xcache.admin.pass = "io3qh984hf982hf02h09fh23fh4820fh40hf"
 
[xcache]
; ini only settings, all the values here is default unless explained
 
; select low level shm/allocator scheme implemenation
xcache.shm_scheme =        "mmap"
; to disable: xcache.size=0
; to enable : xcache.size=64M etc (any size > 0) and your system mmap allows
xcache.size  =                64M
; set to cpu count (cat /proc/cpuinfo |grep -c processor)
xcache.count =                 1
; just a hash hints, you can always store count(items) > slots
xcache.slots =                8K
; ttl of the cache item, 0=forever
xcache.ttl   =                 0
; interval of gc scanning expired items, 0=no scan, other values is in seconds
xcache.gc_interval =           0
 
; same as aboves but for variable cache
xcache.var_size  =             0
xcache.var_count =             1
xcache.var_slots =            8K
; default ttl
xcache.var_ttl   =             0
xcache.var_maxttl   =          0
xcache.var_gc_interval =     300
 
xcache.test =                Off
; N/A for /dev/zero
xcache.readonly_protection = Off
; for *nix, xcache.mmap_path is a file path, not directory.
; Use something like "/tmp/xcache" if you want to turn on ReadonlyProtection
; 2 group of php won't share the same /tmp/xcache
; for win32, xcache.mmap_path=anonymous map name, not file path
xcache.mmap_path =    "/dev/zero"
 
 
; leave it blank(disabled) or "/tmp/phpcore/"
; make sure it's writable by php (without checking open_basedir)
xcache.coredump_directory =   ""
 
; per request settings
xcache.cacher =               On
xcache.stat   =               On
xcache.optimizer =            On
;
[xcache.coverager]
; per request settings
; enable coverage data collecting for xcache.coveragedump_directory and xcache_coverager_start/stop/get/clean() functions (will hurt executing performance)
xcache.coverager =          Off
 
; ini only settings
; make sure it's readable (care open_basedir) by coverage viewer script
; requires xcache.coverager=On
xcache.coveragedump_directory = "/tmp/coverage/"
;

You need to copy the md5 fingerprint of some admin password and put it in the configuration file. That will allow you to open the administrator interface of xcache in your browser.

Now reload the php5-cgi process (certainly by restarting spawn-fcgi).

X-Cache works by caching the compiled PHP pages into memory. The PHP code doesn't need to be modified for it to work.

Let's try a basic benchmark on some simple PHP page, used to display a gallery of images. The injection tool is inject32, from Willy Tarreau.

Test without xcache:

$ ./inject32 -u 25 -H "Host: website.com" -G "server:80/gallery.php?cat=city" -o 100

[...]
   hits ^hits hits/s  ^h/s     bytes  kB/s  last  errs  tout htime  sdht ptime
  27257   219    340   219 131358285  1641  1191     0     0 2709.3 117.6 3335.0
  27692   435    341   435 133632260  1649  2273     0     0 2745.0 69.9 3013.0
  28013   321    341   321 134961725  1645  1329     0     0 2734.8 154.8 3619.2
  28372   359    341   359 136936336  1649  1974     0     0 2571.6 72.4 5454.8
  28760   388    342   388 138623997  1650  1687     0     0 2576.0 92.2 2883.8
  28992   232    341   232 139831426  1645  1207     0     0 2615.9 91.3 3075.0
  29441   449    342   449 142422089  1656  2590     0     0 2600.1 65.4 3219.8
  29747   306    341   306 143578873  1650  1156     0     0 2636.4 123.7 3122.0
  29973   226    340   226 144890733  1646  1311     0     0 2774.9 120.6 3792.3
  30379   406    341   406 147110499  1652  2219     0     0 2810.8 138.8 3166.2
^C
Fin.
Clients : 47
Hits    : 30379 + 0 abortés
Octets  : 147110499
Duree   : 89313 ms
Debit   : 1647 kB/s
Reponse : 340 hits/s
Erreurs : 0
Timeouts: 0
Temps moyen de hit: 2810.8 ms
Temps moyen d'une page complete: 3166.2 ms
Date de demarrage: 1285798045 (30 Sep 2010 - 0:07:25)
Ligne de commande : ./inject32 -u 25 -H Host: website.com -G server:80/gallery.php -o 100

That's a decent 340hits per seconds (on a small VIA Nano processor U2250 (1.6GHz Capable))

Test with xcache

$ ./inject32 -u 25 -H "Host: website.com" -G "server:80/gallery.php?cat=city" -o 100
[...]   hits ^hits hits/s  ^h/s     bytes  kB/s  last  errs  tout htime  sdht ptime
  28200   471    440   470 165119438  2579  2760     2     0 1943.2 112.7 2589.2
  28647   447    440   447 167744669  2580  2627     2     0 1981.0 71.9 2258.0
  29085   438    440   438 170317043  2580  2572     2     0 1952.0 123.5 2258.7
  29469   384    439   384 172572275  2575  2257     2     0 2142.0 92.1 2618.5
  29955   486    440   486 175426553  2579  2854     2     0 2288.4 407.1 3555.7
  30403   448    440   448 178057657  2580  2631     2     0 2005.5 99.4 3727.4
^C
Fin.
Clients : 47
Hits    : 30403 + 74 abortés
Octets  : 178057657
Duree   : 69834 ms
Debit   : 2549 kB/s
Reponse : 435 hits/s
Erreurs : 2
Timeouts: 0
Temps moyen de hit: 2005.5 ms
Temps moyen d'une page complete: 3727.4 ms
Date de demarrage: 1285798978 (30 Sep 2010 - 0:22:58)
Ligne de commande : ./inject32 -u 25 -H Host: website.com -G server:80/gallery.php -o 100

435 hits per seconds. That's almost 30% better that without X-Cache. Not to bad for only 64MB of RAM ;) Further testing with different type of PHP code would be interesting.

Another use of XCache with a Drupal website showed more significant improvements. Without Xcache, average response was around 50 hits per seconds. With XCache enabled, it reached a steady 100 hits per seconds. That's a 100% performance improvement.

Memcached

Installation is straighfoward:

# aptitude install php5-memcache memcached

Then, we can allow more or less memory to memcached in /etc/memcached.conf:

# memcached default config file
# 2003 - Jay Bonci <jaybonci@debian.org>
# This configuration file is read by the start-memcached script provided as
# part of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

# Run memcached as a daemon. This command is implied, and is not needed for the
# daemon to run. See the README.Debian that comes with this package for more
# information.
-d

# Log memcached's output to /var/log/memcached
logfile /var/log/memcached.log

# Be verbose
# -v

# Be even more verbose (print client commands as well)
# -vv

# Start with a cap of 64 megs of memory. It's reasonable, and the daemon default
# Note that the daemon will grow to this size, but does not start out holding this much
# memory
-m 256

# Default connection port is 11211
-p 11211

# Run the daemon as root. The start-memcached will default to running as root if no
# -u command is present in this config file
-u nobody

# Specify which IP address to listen on. The default is to listen on all IP addresses
# This parameter is one of the only security measures that memcached has, so make sure
# it's listening on a firewalled interface.
-l 127.0.0.1

# Limit the number of simultaneous incoming connections. The daemon default is 1024
# -c 1024

# Lock down all paged memory. Consult with the README and homepage before you do this
# -k

# Return error when memory is exhausted (rather than removing items)
# -M

# Maximize core file limit
# -r

Then, php5-memcache consist only on a shared library, that we can copy in the chroot of nginx:

# cp /usr/lib/php5/20090626/memcache.so /var/www/chroot/usr/lib/php5/20090626/

# cp /etc/php5/conf.d/memcache.ini /var/www/chroot/etc/php5/conf.d/

Now, unlike php5-xcache, memcached must be integrated in the PHP code. Most CNS furnish memcached support. Dotclear, for example, has a plugin that does just that.

Benchmark before memcached:

   hits ^hits hits/s  ^h/s     bytes  kB/s  last  errs  tout htime  sdht ptime
    533    10     11    10   6760694   140   133     0     0 8804.3 114.2 8932.3
    545    12     11    12   6905695   140   145     0     0 8807.6 105.1 8939.7
    556    11     11    11   7045076   140   139     0     0 8829.3 104.2 8951.3
    568    12     11    12   7197128   141   152     0     0 8813.1 107.7 8944.7
    578    10     11    10   7337940   141   140     0     0 8788.9 121.0 8971.0
    589    11     11    11   7470270   140   132     0     0 8783.5 117.4 8914.3
^C
Fin.
Clients : 25
Hits    : 589 + 0 abortés
Octets  : 7470270
Duree   : 53332 ms
Debit   : 140 kB/s
Reponse : 11 hits/s
Erreurs : 0
Timeouts: 0
Temps moyen de hit: 8783.5 ms
Temps moyen d'une page complete: 8914.3 ms
Date de demarrage: 1285804175 (30 Sep 2010 - 1:49:35)
Ligne de commande : ./inject32 -u 25 -H Host: jve.linuxwall.info -G sachiel.linuxwall.info:80/blog/index.php -o 4 -F

11 hits/s in average… (6/7 hits/s without xcache)

Now, activate memcached by adding the plugin and the following parameters in inc/config.php. Relaunch the benchmark:

   hits ^hits hits/s  ^h/s     bytes  kB/s  last  errs  tout htime  sdht ptime
   1497    15     15    15  51862209   540   550     0     0 6370.9 83.7 6460.0
   1513    16     15    16  52384599   540   522     0     0 6393.8 77.3 6476.0
   1528    15     15    15  52935522   540   550     0     0 6423.8 91.9 6530.5
   1544    16     15    16  53489490   540   553     0     0 6391.5 89.3 6487.8
   1560    16     15    16  54011880   540   522     0     0 6417.4 87.4 6506.8
   1575    15     15    15  54531225   539   519     0     0 6433.8 78.8 6528.0
   1590    15     15    15  55050570   539   519     0     0 6426.8 99.8 6547.0
   1605    15     15    15  55569915   539   519     0     0 6425.3 87.6 6515.2
   1620    15     15    15  56089260   539   519     0     0 6422.5 88.5 6504.2
   1636    16     15    16  56674806   539   585     0     0 6413.4 88.8 6516.8
   1652    16     15    16  57228774   539   553     0     0 6379.6 90.4 6476.2
   1668    16     15    16  57751164   539   522     0     0 6374.8 84.1 6463.2
^C
Fin.
Clients : 50
Hits    : 1668 + 0 abortés
Octets  : 57751164
Duree   : 107719 ms
Debit   : 536 kB/s
Reponse : 15 hits/s
Erreurs : 0
Timeouts: 0
Temps moyen de hit: 6374.8 ms
Temps moyen d'une page complete: 6463.2 ms
Date de demarrage: 1285804931 (30 Sep 2010 - 2:02:11)
Ligne de commande : ./inject32 -u 25 -H Host: jve.linuxwall.info -G sachiel.linuxwall.info:80/blog/index.php -o 4 -F

15 hits/s. That's still slow but better. I'll investigate to see if with other CMS, such as drupal, the gain is more important.

en/ressources/dossiers/nginx/nginx_performance_tuning.txt · Last modified: 2013/06/17 18:54 (external edit)
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