Deciphering Apache error messages and other pleasant pastimes

There comes a dreaded time in every developer’s life when the inevitable happens – you are forced to switch to a new machine, and re-configure the entire dev environment you spent months (or years, in my case) tweaking and perfecting.  For me, that time unexpectedly came last week when the hard disk on my laptop decided it was time for a winter holiday.

Armed with a reimaged laptop and Redfin’s internal developer machine setup guide, I was making decent progress until I hit a stumbling block: Apache was crashing. No matter what I did – on the first browser hit, I was greeted with a friendly error:

Apache error

The Event Log had a slightly more descriptive message:

Faulting application Apache.exe, version 2.0.63.200, faulting module ntdll.dll, version 5.1.2600.2180, fault address 0x00011e58.

Apache’s error log was mysterious in its own way:

[notice]  Parent: child process exited with status 3221225477 -- Restarting.

To save you hours of debugging, hair pulling, reinstalling, and commenting out of httpd.conf that I went through, I’ll just point you directly to the root cause of the problem:  https://issues.apache.org/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?id=44338: mod_deflate crashes and does not return response.  If you have Apache 2.0.63 on Windows, are loading the mod_deflate.so module, and are using it by including AddOutputFilterByType/SetOutputFilter directives in your httpd.conf – Apache will crash.  Currently there is no fix for this (although the bug above may be updated with a fix in the future) – you have a choice of taking out mod_deflate out of your Apache config, or upgrading to Apache 2.2.

Since mod_deflate is not essential in our developer setup, I happily chose the former option and got my Apache up and running.

Discussion

  • QueenBee

    I appreciate your pain but all of that could have been easily avoided by spending $80 for Acronis True image: http://www.acronis.com/
    and another $80 on an external hard drive. It probably took that much just to get Apache working. I bet it feels good to have a nice clean installation of Windows though :)

  • http://www.prusourceone.com Steve Krzysiak

    Thanks for sharing the info, I notice you mentioned ‘if you are running windows’ but I saw no mention on the bug tracker that this is windows specific, is it?

    BTW, the only better feeling than having a clean install of windows is any sort of install of Linux :p

  • jane.dynin

    Steve,

    You’re right, the bug description doesn’t mention that this is Windows-specific. But all the reproducible cases in the bug (along with mine) are using Windows installs. Plus, I know that we use mod_deflate on our production/test boxes which run Linux, and (I think…) the same version of Apache.

    Jane

  • http://www.payforstay.com Scott

    You seriously just saved me hours and hours of debugging and hair-pulling – thank you so much!