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March 23, 2005

Restarting a Zope/CMFPlone Instance After An Unclean Shutdown

There's an attention-grabbing headline for you. But, given my experience of the last twenty minutes, exciting and career-rewarding though they were, I thought it might be good to offer for my distilled and sweaty wisdom up to the world.

Zope and Plone, for those of you who don't know those products yet for some unaccountable reason are still reading this, is a Python-based CMS, or content management system. Python is a programming language--so no, your content is not managed by us placing it inside of snakes, much as we'd like to.

CMS's are a big topic right now at UNC, so big that discussion of them has moved steadily up the bureaucratic ladder into the realm of mission statements and discussion on how to fit them into the overall UNC environment.

As one mighty expect, this is a recipe for inaction--or at least perceived inaction. A decision on CMS systems has languished in the realm of the executive and assistant executive something or others for so long the various members of the user base driving the discussion in the first place has essentially given up hope that anything will come back down the pipe. They've begun attempting, by hook or crook, to get a CMS of their very own installed.

One of those desperate attempts ended with us running a Zope/Plone instance on a fairly elderly server; a 500Mhz single CPU box if you must know. Yes, it might as well be an abacus. Still, we think for the most part that it'll be ok. Go have a look.

It went officially "live" yesterday, meaning of course that it broke today. Not badly, but enough so that when it breaks again--and like all new apps, it surely will--I'll want a record of what I tried this time, in order to try different things next time.

First off, it appears the best way to shut down Zope at the moment is via the web-based interface, i.e. the shutdown button in the Control Panel. The zopectl script runs, but does not appear to affect anything, though that could be related to the load condition--python sucking up 88% of the one CPU--that caused me to attempt to shut the thing down in the first place.

Killing the python process manually leave behind several files that need to be removed before any restart attempt succeeds. If your zope instance is installed to /opt/local/zope, those files are;

/opt/local/zope/var/ and

In addition, zope's idea of the effective user may interfere with this if that user is set to one other than the one that owns the /opt/local/zope file tree, which in our case it did, as during the development we let the developer's bounce the app as needed. Why it became an issue this morning--yet never before--I still don't know, but until ownership of the entire tree was changed to zope's "effective user" all startup attempts failed with this message;

IOError: [Errno 13] Permission denied: '/opt/local/zope/var/Data.fs.lock'

As with shutdown, the zopectl script was ineffective in starting, so I changed directories to /opt/local/zope/bin and started it this way;

# nohup ./runzope &

As there's a number of things I'd like to try next time I'm almost hoping it breaks again soon. But with my luck, the next outage will be around 3 in the morning.

Posted by Bigwig at March 23, 2005 09:39 AM | TrackBack
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