Setting up a Replica Server (Stratum 1)¶
While a CernVM-FS Stratum 0 repository server is able to serve clients directly, a large number of clients is better be served by a set of Stratum 1 replica servers. Multiple Stratum 1 servers improve the reliability, reduce the load, and protect the Stratum 0 master copy of the repository from direct accesses. Stratum 0 server, Stratum 1 servers and the site-local proxy servers can be seen as content distribution network. The figure below shows the situation for the repositories hosted in the cern.ch domain.
A Stratum 1 server is a standard web server that uses the
CernVM-FS server toolkit to create and maintain a mirror of a
CernVM-FS repository served by a Stratum 0 server. To this end, the
cvmfs_server utility provides the
add-replica command. This
command will register the Stratum 0 URL and prepare the local web
server. Periodical synchronization has to be scheduled, for instance
cron, using the
cvmfs_server snapshot -a command. The
advantage over general purpose mirroring tools such as rSync is that all
CernVM-FS file integrity verifications mechanisms from the Fuse client
are reused. Additionally, by the aid of the CernVM-FS file catalogs, the
cvmfs_server utility knows beforehand (without remote listing) which
files to transfer.
In order to prevent accidental synchronization from a repository, the
Stratum 0 repository maintainer has to create a
.cvmfs_master_replica file in the HTTP root directory. This file is
created by default when a new repository is created. Note that
replication can thrash caches that might exist between Stratum 1 and
Stratum 0. A direct connection is therefore preferable.
The vast majority of HTTP requests will be served by the site’s local proxy servers. Being a publicly available service, however, we recommend to install a Squid frontend in front of the Stratum 1 web server.
We suggest the following key parameters:
RAID-protected storage. The
cvmfs_serverutility should have low latency to the storage because it runs a large number of system calls (
stat()) against it. For the local storage backends ext3/4 filesystems are preferred (rather than XFS).
- Web server
A standard Apache server. Directory listing is not required. In addition, it is a good practice to exclude search engines from the replica web server by an appropriate robots.txt. The webserver should be close to the storage in terms of latency.
- Squid frontend
Squid should be used as a frontend to Apache, configured as a reverse proxy. It is recommended to run it on the same machine as Apache instead of a separate machine, to reduce the number of points of failure. In that case caching can be disabled for the data (since there’s no need to store it again on the same disk), but caching is helpful for the responses to geo api calls. Using a squid is also helpful for participating in shared monitoring such as the WLCG Squid Monitor.
Alternatively, separate Squid server machines may be configured in a round-robin DNS and each forward to the Apache server, but note that if any of them are down the entire service will be considered down by CernVM-FS clients. A front end hardware load balancer that quickly takes a machine that is down out of service would help reduce the impact.
- High availability
On the subject of availability, note that it is not advised to use two separate complete Stratum 1 servers in a single round-robin service because they will be updated at different rates. That would cause errors when a client sees an updated catalog from one Stratum 1 but tries to read corresponding data files from the other that does not yet have the files. Different Stratum 1s should either be separately configured on the clients, or a pair can be configured as a high availability active/standby pair using the cvmfs-contrib cvmfs-hastratum1 package. An active/standby pair can also be managed by switching a DNS name between two different servers.
- DNS cache
The geo api on a Stratum 1 does DNS lookups. It caches lookups for 5 minutes so the DNS server load does not tend to be severe, but we still recommend installing a DNS caching mechanism on the machine such as
bind. We do not recommend
nscdsince it does not honor the DNS Time-To-Live protocol.
In general the
cvmfs_server utility automatically manages the
However, for systems based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 it is
recommended that heavily used Stratum 1s disable the “prefork”
Multi-Process Module (MPM) and instead use the “worker” or “event”
MPM which perform much better under heavy load because they work
with multiple threads per process.
That can be done by changing which module is uncommented in
The “event” MPM is the default on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.
If you participate in the Open Science Grid (OSG) or the European Grid Infrastructure (EGI), you are encouraged to use their distribution of squid called frontier-squid. It is kept up to date with the latest squid bug fixes and has features for easier upgrading and monitoring. Step-by-step instructions for setting it up with a Stratum 1 is available in the `OSG documentation https://opensciencegrid.org/docs/other/install-cvmfs-stratum1/#configuring-frontier-squid`_.
Otherwise, a squid package is available in most Linux operating systems. The Squid configuration differs from the site-local Squids because the Stratum 1 Squid servers are transparent to the clients (reverse proxy). As the expiry rules are set by the web server, Squid cache expiry rules remain unchanged.
The following lines should appear accordingly in
http_port 8000 accel http_access allow all cache_peer <APACHE_HOSTNAME> parent <APACHE_PORT> 0 no-query originserver cache_mem <MEM_CACHE_SIZE> MB cache_dir ufs /var/spool/squid <DISK_CACHE_SIZE in MB> 16 256 maximum_object_size 1024 MB maximum_object_size_in_memory 128 KB
http_access allow allhas to be inserted before (or instead of) the line
http_access deny all. If Apache is running on the same host, the
localhost. Also, in that case there is not a performance advantage for squid to cache files that came from the same machine, so you can configure squid to not cache files. Do that with the following lines:
acl CVMFSAPI urlpath_regex ^/cvmfs/[^/]*/api/ cache deny !CVMFSAPI
Then the squid will only cache API calls. You can then set
DISK_CACHE_SIZE quite small.
Even if squid is configured to cache everything it is best to keep
MEM_CACHE_SIZE small, because it is generally better to leave as
much RAM to the operating system for file system caching as possible.
Check the configuration syntax by
squid -k parse. Create the hard
disk cache area with
squid -z. In order to make the increased number
of file descriptors effective for Squid, execute
ulimit -n 8192
prior to starting the squid service.
The Squid also needs to respond to port 80, but Squid might not have the ability to directly listen there if it is run unprivileged, plus Apache listens on port 80 by default. Direct external port 80 traffic to port 8000 with the following command:
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-ports 8000
If IPv6 is supported, do the same command with
ip6tables. This will
leave localhost traffic to port 80 going directly to Apache, which is
cvmfs_server uses that and it doesn’t need to go
Note: Port 8000 might be assigned to
soundd. On SElinux systems,
this assignment must be changed to the HTTP service by
semanage port -m -t http_port_t -p tcp 8000. The
RPM for EL7 executes this command as a post-installation script.
Geo API Setup¶
One of the essential services supplied by Stratum 1s to CernVM-FS clients is the Geo API. This enables clients to share configurations worldwide while automatically sorting Stratum 1s geographically to prioritize connecting to the closest ones. This makes use of a GeoIP database from Maxmind that translates IP addresses of clients to longitude and latitude.
The database is free, but the Maxmind
End User License Agreement
requires that each user of the database
sign up for an account
and promise to update the database to the latest version within 30 days
of when they issue a new version. The signup process will end with
giving you a License Key. The
snapshot commands will take care of automatically updating the
database if you put a line like the following in
<license key> with the key
you get from the signup process:
To keep the key secret, set the mode of
/etc/cvmfs/server.local to 600.
You can test that it works by running
Alternatively, if you have a separate mechanism of installing and
updating the Geolite2 City database file, you can instead set
CVMFS_GEO_DB_FILE to the full path where you have installed it. If
the path is
NONE, then no database will be required, but note that
this will break the client Geo API so only use it for testing, when the
server is not used by production clients. If the database is installed
in the default directory used by Maxmind’s own
cvmfs_server will use it from there and
neither variable needs to be set.
Normally repositories on Stratum 1s are created owned by root, and the
cvmfs_server snapshot command is run by root. If you want to use a
different user id while still using the builtin mechanism for updating
the geo database, change the owner of
/etc/cvmfs/server.local to the user id.
The builtin geo database update mechanism normally checks for updates
once a week on Tuesdays but can be controlled through a set of variables
cvmfs_server beginning with
cvmfs_server script for the details. An update can also be
forced at any time by running
cvmfs_server utility reports status and problems to
For the web server infrastructure, we recommend
which watches for problems in every repository’s
In order to tune the hardware and cache sizes, keep an eye on the Squid server’s CPU and I/O load.
Keep an eye on HTTP 404 errors. For normal CernVM-FS traffic, such
failures should not occur. Traffic from CernVM-FS clients is marked by
If any replicated repositories have Garbage Collection enabled, the
Stratum 1 also needs to run garbage collection in order to prevent the
disk space usage from growing rapidly. Run
cvmfs_server gc -af
periodically (e.g daily or weekly) from cron to run garbage collection
on all repositories that have garbage collection enabled. Logs will
go into /var/log/cvmfs/gc.log.
In addition, over time problems can show up with a small percentage of
files stored on a large Stratum 1. Run
cvmfs_server check -a daily
from cron to start a check process. On a large Stratum 1 it will run
for many days, but only with a single thread so it is not very
intrusive. If another check is still in process a new one will not
start. Each repository by default will only be checked at most once
every 30 days. Logs will go into /var/log/cvmfs/checks.log and
problems will be recorded in a repository’s