Friday 28 March 2014

Windows Redis-64

As you know, I’m a huge fan of Redis. This week, a team at the Microsoft Open Tech group released a new drop of redis-64 for windows (note: all links there are old – github is fresher), with binaries available on both NuGet and chocolatey. It is even marked by them as “production ready”. The current drop is 2.8.4 in Redis terms (the last public drop was 2.6.12).

So congratulations, thanks and kudos to the team involved: an important milestone.

In production, at Stack Exchange we use CentOS to host Redis, so I’m simply not in a position to comment on how well it works in production, but for windows developers using Redis it is really handy having convenient access to a Redis server without having to spin up a VM.

One really important thing to watch

From reading the "Redis Release Notes.docx" and "" file in the packages/Redis- folder, the appoach they used to solve the fork problem was to introduce a shared, memory-mapped file, and it defaults to the size of your physical memory (and that is before it has forked, when it can grow due to copy-on-write). So whether you are using it as a production server or a dev tool, you might want to pay particular attention the the “maxheap” setting in your .conf file. For my local dev work I usually spin up 5 servers, and I currently have 24GB physical memory in my machine – so by default, when running 5 completely empty databases, it instantly chewed up 120GB of hard disk space (you get it back when the server exits). If you don’t have enough disk space: the server won’t start. You'll probably see:

QForkMasterInit: system error caught. error code=0x000005af, message=VirtualAllocEx failed.

Fortunately it is simple to configure a memory bound:

maxheap 4gb # or whatever

Please note – this really isn’t a criticism; I understand the “why” – they need the shared memory-mapped file for the pseudo-fork, and they need to allocate the “maxheap” amount from the outset because IIRC you can’t grow such a map very flexibly. My intent is merely to flag it in flashing colours that if you’re playing with Redis-64, you want to think about your memory vs disk.

Now go, play, have some Redis fun.