HTTP Client FIN-ACK

NOT sure this is a nginx problem, but I thought I’d pass it along.

I have a small custom Scheme HTTP library that uses its FFI to call
Linux
socket APIs. In other words, its a home brew implementation. I have
used
it to do various HTTP GETs/POSTs for RSS, JSON, etc with success.

However, when I attempted to do a simple RSS fetch from a site which
responds as Server: nginx/0.6.25, I observed an immediate, and
unexpected,
socket close (reset by peer) from nginx. I suspect it might be nginx
and
how it handles TCP connections and not the 3rd server application (
www.blippr.com). Though it could be the application.

Here is the sequence of events.

  1. Client connects fine. TCP connect is standard 3-way handshake. SYN,
    SYN-ACK, ACK
  2. My cliient sends a well-formed HTTP GET request for RSS content.
  3. My client library then closes my half of the duplex connection via
    “shutdown SHUT_WR”. This means at the TCP level a FIN/ACK is sent to
    nginx.
    (Semantically this means, the client will not be sending any more data.)
  4. nginx immediatly responds with a ACK, and then closes the socket
    without
    a response, by sending its own FIN/ACK, to which the client sends an
    ACK.
    In other words a standard 4-way TCP teardown. (Semantically nginx
    sending
    its own FIN/ACK means no more data will be sent.)

From what little I understand, it appears nginx is incorrectly
interrupting
the SHUT_WR (sends a FIN/ACK) as an end TCP connection. Not as "no
more
data will be sent on the write half (from the client) of the duplex TCP
connection.

However, I think the TCP correct behaviour for nginx should be to
respond
the HTTP request. Even though the client intiated SHUT_WR this only
indicates no further data will be sent by the client, to which nginx
should
respond with an ACK, but not close the connection until after sending
the
HTTP response and then sending its own FIN/ACK.

The above 1-4 sequence works fine with all other HTTP servers I’ve
called
to date.

I do successfully recieve a response if I do not do a call “shutdown
SHUT_WR” after sending the HTTP GET request, which is the workaround.

Given my limited knowledge this what I think I’m seeking. It IS very
possible that nginx is not at fault here, but I thougt I’d pass it
along.

Ray.

Hello!

On Sun, Sep 07, 2008 at 05:15:08PM -0400, Ray Racine wrote:

www.blippr.com). Though it could be the application.
a response, by sending its own FIN/ACK, to which the client sends an ACK.
indicates no further data will be sent by the client, to which nginx should
possible that nginx is not at fault here, but I thougt I’d pass it along.
There is no such thing as half-close in RFC 2616 (Hypertext
Transfer Protocol – HTTP/1.1). The most relevant part I was able
to find is from RFC 1945 (Hypertext Transfer Protocol – HTTP/1.0,
1.3 Overall Operation):

% Except for experimental applications, current practice requires
that
% the connection be established by the client prior to each request
and
% closed by the server after sending the response. Both clients and
% servers should be aware that either party may close the connection
% prematurely, due to user action, automated time-out, or program
% failure, and should handle such closing in a predictable fashion.
In
% any case, the closing of the connection by either or both parties
% always terminates the current request, regardless of its status.

Please note: half-close isn’t distinguishable from full close at
the other end without sending data. So in your situation server
really have two options:

1. Assume client closed connection ("due to user action,

automated time-out, or program failure" - e.g. since user clicked
‘stop’ button or clicked a link on a page) and try to minimize
performance impact of doing unneeded work.

2. Assume client does something strange with TCP like half-close

for some unknown reason, and try to respond anyway.

By default nginx does 1 if request was proxied to backend and no
reply from backend was got yet (and hence nginx has no chance to
send data to client for unknown period of time on the one hand,
and may save backend from unneded request on the other hand). It
may be instructed not to do so by proxy_ignore_client_abort
configuration directive.

The strange thing in your story is that you see ‘reset by peer’,
but I suspect it’s just wording problem and you see normal FIN
from nginx side, not RST.

Maxim D.

p.s. Just don’t use shutdown(SHUT_WR) with http, it’s wrong.

Hi ya!,

Thanks for the response.

I did some additional research. It appears the debate on what to do
with
half-close clients with regards to HTTP goes back quite a ways. I
disagree
that it is “strange” to do a TCP half-close, its part and parcel to the
protocol itself and situationally, for a client it does make sense to do
so. On the other hand, I also agree with you, given the additional
background reading I’ve done, its probably just better to avoid it given
the
ambiguity around doing a half-close in the context of HTTP and varous
alludes found in the HTTP RFC(s).

It may or then again it may not be of interest that nginx is somewhat
unique
in its behavior on how it deals with a half-close compared to other HTTP
systems I’ve observed so far. These other systems Apache, IIS, Varnish,
lighthttpd, … first complete the response and then finish the close
handshake. nginx is the only system I’ve observed so far which responds
with an immediate close (FIN/ACK).

Thanks,

Ray

This forum is not affiliated to the Ruby language, Ruby on Rails framework, nor any Ruby applications discussed here.

| Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Remote Ruby Jobs