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I'd start off going through the Apache server logs to see what events are causing your problem, though is weird nothing is in syslog. If you're suspecting MySQL issues, is there possibly some eroneous data in your database that causes problems when certain queries are executed? What happened a month ago - were any database upgrades applied, or new features added to the website which altered the database?
Since you've switched hardware multiple times, distro + kernels, there's got to be one thing the same between them which can only the PHP code and associated scripts being executed (possibily malicious code having been inserted somewhere) or bad data in your database.
Your query on drives is correct, IDE drives would just create a bottleneck meaning the data can't be moved as quick as it should, so it slows a little. Even moving large amounts of images would simply result in a slow-down. Hardware problems with your IDE controllers seem ruled out with changing boxes.
A crappy app or code *should* segfault, or in the case of PHP script, simply exceede the memory or timeout limits and stop processing. Parsing large log files often causes this on one of our slower proxies at work, but the scripts simply stop and the memory is released for other system functions to utilise again.
800,000 page views is quite high, but it seems like it's a dedicated box, with new hardware, so it shouldn't impact on performance that much, again, not to the point of simply not responding. Why it's just a Sunday, no idea! Silly question - but there's no naughty cron jobs meant to be executing Saturday night / Sunday?
But, let us know if the apache logs show anything - I'm guessing it's something do with that.
Can you reproduce the crash by requesting the last images server by Apache? If it crashes again loading the same image or images, the image seems corrupt (would be surprising if that's all thats causing it). But yeah, analyse the hell out of the logs - find anything common before each crash, there must be something.
Distribution: Mainly Debian, some Fedora for the bleeding edge fix
Hi, dont know if this will help, but i have had a freebsd (5.3) server crashing. Its running php 4.10 (typo3) on apache 1.33 with mysql and ImageMagick. The server was under heavy load for 2 days (its a training server for classes in typo3). It crashed (froze) when we started to work with imagemagick, converting/resizing images.
Also i have these in my log file:
(convert), uid 80: exited on signal 11
I suspect the "convert" executable from imagemagick is f****** things up.
im using ImageMagick 220.127.116.11 but will try to downgrade to 4.something. as this is said to be more stable