Libmemcache/php-mcache issues

John McCaskey johnm at
Sun Sep 4 20:56:28 PDT 2005

Being the author of php-mcache I can shed some light.  First, as Garrett said libmemcache does like to log errors to stderr and exit when it considers them fatal, but the most recent beta's support overriding this behavior and along with the most recent php-mcache beta's fix this and log the errors correctly via php's error handling and never exit (as that would exit the apache thread/process... which is obviously not desirable).  
As to the protocol errors did you have existing cache data from before switching to php-mcache?  The stored cache format for data from the PECL extension may be incompatible and you should definately restart memcached itself to clear the cace after switching the code.  Apart from that it may be a libmemcached bug.  I've also received a variety of reports of a segfault bug which I haven't had time to sufficiently investigate yet but have not been able to reproduce.  Please keep in mind that the 1.2.0 series is beta and should be treated as such at the moment.  Unfortunately there are known issues with the older versions of memcached that the 1.1.x series compiles against so its not a real clean situation there either.
Finally, as to the errors being fatal there are several levels internally in libmemcached which get mapped to either error, warning, or notice in php-mcache and I'll have to look into what the deal is with that specific error and why its fatal.  An easy fix for you to quickly avoid any being fatal is to use the @ operator in front of the method call to supress the errors.


From: memcached-bounces at on behalf of Garrett Rooney
Sent: Sun 9/4/2005 10:12 AM
To: Russ Garrett
Cc: memcached at
Subject: Re: Libmemcache/php-mcache issues

Russ Garrett wrote:
> OK, today I tried moving our live site over to the mcache PHP extension.
> Previously we were using the PECL extension with a custom multi-server
> wrapper, however this caused problems with failover (i.e., it doesn't),
> and we'd much rather be running on libmemcache which seems like a much
> more reliable solution.
> So the setup is:
> mcache version 1.2.0-beta8
> libmemcache version 1.4.0.b5
> memcached version 1.1.11
> We are (or rather, were, since we've rolled back) getting loads of
> errors like this (probably 5 per second):
> Sep  4 15:54:20 local at www5 httpd[3256]: [error] PHP Fatal error: 
> memcache(4) protocol error - \r\nWEEKLY UK AUDIOSCROBBLER ARTIST
> CHART\r\nW...
> Sep  4 15:54:16 local at www3 httpd[27668]: [error] PHP Fatal error: 
> memcache(4) protocol error - VALUE c012ba4abdd9f4f8b4ab1f1386957dd5 1
> 4043\r\nO:5:"group":..
> Sep  4 15:54:17 local at www2 httpd[3275]: [error] PHP Fatal error: 
> read(2) failed - server unexpectedly closed connection in
> /nfsroot/web/site/ on line 43
> Sep  4 15:53:45 local at www3 httpd[27673]: [error] PHP Fatal error: 
> memcache(4) protocol error - no \\r before \\n in
> /nfsroot/web/site/
> ched.php on line 43
> Firstly, why are these fatal errors? Surely libmemcache should simply
> log a notice, and then close/reopen the connection to reset it, hence
> not completely breaking the site if something goes wrong with memcached.
> Is this some sort of version incompatibility, or an issue in libmemcache
> itself? It only seems to happen on a certain (small) subset of values. I
> hope to isolate these keys and see if I can reproduce these errors on
> our development site.

I'm not sure if you're running into the same sort of problems we did,
but we recently tried to use libmemcache and eventually threw up our
hands and switched to apr_memcache instead, despite the extra
dependencies it introduced into the system.

libmemcache seems to have this lovely habit of logging an awful lot of
data to stderr in some situations (specifically it got into loops when
it couldn't talk to a server for some reason where all it would do is
keep dumping messages to stderr) and even more fun, deciding that an
entire class of errors are fatal and exiting in response.  The beautiful
thing is that this class of errors often seems to be a result of bugs in
the actual libmemcache library (the big one we found was checking errno
after a strtol call without zeroing errno out first and thus picking up
an old errno value, thus incorrectly assuming an error had occurred when
in fact nothing had gone wrong).

We fixed the strtol bugs locally, but the looping on failure to connect
to the server was just too much (it didn't help that the code in
question was rather #ifdef happy and hard to follow), so we gave up and
ported our code.  No problems with apr_memcache so far.


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