Traffic Server Cork Working Group

My view on the working group Cork, heavily biased toward things of importance to me.


Lua configuration has been abandoned. It will be replaced by YAML. The TsLuaConfig project will be abandoned and the schema work converted to YAML. It was agreed that YAML based schemas will be supported if not required to provide more accurate configuration feedback. In the longer term I would like to build editor support logic for editing Traffic Server configurations such as for Visual Code that can provide direct schema based feedback and error checking. It was also agreed that we would strive for a zero configuration capability, to enable local configurations to contain only locallly relevant configuration options.

One advantage of YAML is it lends itself to REST style API control more easily. It was the concensus we should move forward on extending and broadening external API control of the configuration using YAML.


Upgrade to Clang 6 static analyzer. This created around 50 new errors which we fixed during teh working group. There appear to still be a few issues that are problems with the analyzer we are working around but this was determined to be overall an improvement.

The compiler requirement will be moved to C++17 starting with 8.0. The language changes are minor, the primary advantages will be to simplify the build environment to a single version of C++ and to gain access to many useful standard library mechanisms, such as std::filesystem and std::string_view.

Process Management

traffic_cop has been removed for 8.0. This removes internal health checking from Traffic Server. The concensus view is that this is done better using other mechanisms that are commonly available now but weren’t back in the early days of Traffic Server. Some additional documentation will be required for groups wanting to use Traffic Server but not aware of specific tools needed.

It is planned to remove traffic_manager for 9.0. The latter will be significantly more difficult because traffic_manager performs useful functions. Among these are

  • Opening of the proxy ports. This can be shifted without much loss to traffic_server which is already capable of doing this. This will mean lack of open ports while traffic_server is restarting which was considered a minor issue.
  • External communcation with command lines tools. The ongoing RPC work will be needed to move this functionality in to traffic_server.
  • Access to statistics and metrics. This data should already be present in traffic_server and if the RPC work is completed this should be a relatively straight forward project.

Internal RPC The current libRPC project will be abandoned. Instead a third party RPC serialization mechanism will be selected and used. This replacement will be required to achieve the design goals of libRPC

  • Separately library without executable specific compilation or libraries.
  • Bidirectional.
  • Type safety.
  • External registration to enable subsystems to register their own RPC calls and handling.

This is not as simple as it sounds. One key point of the current RPC is it requires no allocations. Because it is a simple serialized list of fundamental types the reciever can provide an array or argument list of those types to transfer data directly from the serialized data. It is likley a new RPC will be YAML or (roughly equivalently) JSON based. How the memory for storing this is to be handled will be something to be considered.

Layer 7 Routing

The general direction of the work as accepted. The main concern is providing intermediate deliverables rather than trying for one big result. The current work on the extended host database was well accepted. In fact there was some interest in extending this to the HttpSM for other plugins. This could be an interesting idea even with regard to Layer 7 routing. There is a problem in the design of the resolvers regarding maintaning state during resolution for a transaction. The problem is the amount of state data depends on the resolver statck. If this data could be added in the same way to the HttpSM then that would be a perfect spot to store that state.

Hash Tables

For concurrent containers we will try TBB (Thread Building Blocks) first. The primary constraint is the availability of packages from well known repositories. TBB is a bit heavy weight wih many things not of direct use but if installable via normal package management this is acceptable.

If TBB doesn’t work out then we will look at either libcds (Concurrent Data Structures). A third option is to do a fork of CK (Concurrency Kit) to make CK++, a C++ fronted version of CK.

For basic hash tables to replace the TCL hash table we will look at using the STL containers with a custom allocator. It’s still a bit unclear to me what the goal of this is. As best I can tell the objection is that common use of the STL based containers will have memory use characteristics. A custom allocator should be able to do better in terms of locality and cleanup. Given the strictures on allocators I am not confident this can be done in a reasonable way.


Some plugins were promoted which will affect building but not release packages. The gzip plugin was renamed to compress. This will affect packaging and configurations.

There was agreement that we should push forward on providing access to C++ based support present in libtsutil. The primary issue will be setting up the header files to avoid pulling in internal header files which are specialized for the core. Some work was done on this at the Working Group but more may be required.

The pre-fetch plugin written for Tumblr was discussed. The plugin itself may not be accepted in to open source but the basic functionality was supported and it was agreed to provide it in one way or another. It might be by extending the background_fetch plugin or some other mechanism. There were some suggestions about pre-fetching, including using 0 or 1 byte range requests to trigger background_fetch. I’m stylistically opposed to this because it’s dependent on installing a plugin to use in a non-obvious. it might be reasonable to expand prefetch to handle background fetch operations or vice versa. We will need to look at the configuration to see which is best, but the shift in configuration to YAML might be a good opportunity shift thist around.

Proxy Protocol

It was agreed to commit the work on PROXY protocol to 8.0 with one more change. This change is to enable PROXY protocol on a per proxy port basis using the proxy port descriptors. The keyword for this will be pp, therefore to enable PROXY protocol with TLS on port 443 the descriptor would be 443:ssl:pp.

The current version of PROXY protocol is inbound only. In the longer term it will be useful to provide for it outbound as well. I want to look at doing a betterjob of handling protocols on the proxy ports in order to prepare for non-HTTP proxying.

Memory Allocation

Comcast indicated some concerns about leaks due to disabling global allocators, which was a puzzle both to them and to the rest of us. Nevertheless, it was agreed to proceed cautiously for this reason. Fei’s work will be to provide flags for removing just the global allocators and for removing global and proxy allocators. In addition he will need to test this and perform measurements to validate the changes are not harmful.


The AuTest workshop went well – everyone at the Working Group has now written an AuTest. Jason received some useful feedback on improving the infrastructure. I discussed off line potential additions to the AuTest tooling with regard to utilities to drive traffic through Traffic Server. Apple is working on a tool which could be used to provide HTTP specific traffic rather than using the more blunt tool of curl and grep. In particular this would have the ability to focus on specific headers rather than a generic text comparison, something I have wanted for a long time.

Apple also discussed their “CDN Checker” which is very similar to what I have been calling “live testing”. In essence requests are done against an in production box to verify its status and configuration. This is the basis for the HTTP traffic tool discussed just above. In the Apple setup this is done in an automated fashion but both I and the Traffic Control group would like to be able to do it on demand as well.

Fine grained debugging

This started from a request by Dave Carlin to be able to enable debug messages for a specific user agent IP address. There was quite a bit of controversy about this, oddly about the configuration not the implementation. The actual mechanism was put in 7.0 (ported from our internal patch) but 7.0 had no way to actually use it (that was local to OATS). The concensus at the Working Group was to put that in to 8.0 but there was some desire to have more features, such as subnets instead of a single IP address and plugin control of the feature. There was also discussion of integration with another debugging feature where a specific but limited set of debugging messages can be enabled on a per transaction basis. This feature is a bit of a hack, we will need to look at how to do better. This is a bit tricky because the per user agent IP address mechanism depends on tagging continuations with a debug enabled flag, and by the time the HttpSM is created many of those continuations may already exist and not inherit the enable flag.

Other Notes

Susan’s design for outbound HTTP/2 was accepted. She was able to spend a good bit of time with Kees, Masaori, and Masakazu to make sure everyone working in this area is on board with her design.

For half closed connections, it was agreed these are not likely to be of significant use in real production because this is not an issue for TLS or HTTP/2 connections. Susan agreed to try to gather some actual data on how often this happens to verify.

WeAmp is preparing to release its fastCGI plugin. This enables remaps to redirect to a fastCGI handler. This would among other enable serving static pages from Traffic Server directly which has been a request from the operations teams and some properties for quite a while. This could be integrated with the escalate plugin or the internal error page templates. Health checks could use this feature. It does require an additional process to handle the fastCGI requests which need to be managed.

Based on some work by Masoari for doing better connection draining in Traffic Server, Susan and I are investigating doing clean cutovers from one traffic_server to another. This would involve

  • Start the new instance, wait for it to become ready.
  • Mark the old instance to drain.
  • Disable cache writing in the old instance.
  • Enable cache writing in the new instance.
  • Start accepting connections on the new instance.
  • When the old instance has few enough connections, shut it down.

The key point is to avoid having two processes write to the cache at the same time, while also continuing to provide some level of protection to the upstreams.

AMC Tech

Resistance to my work on BufferWriter finally collapsed and I will be able to merge in my updates, which are already incorporated in to to the upstream connection limiting.

MemArena was accepted with little comment, I will be doing a few more fixes to that before using it in other project. The same for MemSpan and MemVec. I do need to track the emerging C++20 standard on this point to minimize disruption, or provide facilities that are needed but won’t be in the future STL version.

The move to C++17 will enable me to remove some sub-optimal code, particularly in the Cache Tool.

There was a push to remove TSHashTable in the process of doing the hash table upgrades. I need to do some writing on that, I’m not sure it’s a good idea in retrospect after pondering it for a bit. That class does provide some features that are not going to be available in the STL containers. I need to be specific about that so a reasonable decision can be made.