In the company I work for we’re using RabbitMQ to offload non-timecritical processing of tasks. To be able to recover in case RabbitMQ goes down our queues are durable and all our messages are marked as persistent. We generally have a very low number of messages in flight at any moment in time. There’s just one queue with a decent amount of them: the “failed messages” dump.
It so happens that after a botched update to the most recent version of RabbitMQ (3.5.3 at the time) our admins had to nuke the server and install it from scratch. They had made a backup of RabbitMQ’s Mnesia database and I was tasked to recover the messages from it.
This is the story of how I did it.
Since our RabbitMQ was configured to persist all the messages this should be generally possible. Surely I wouldn’t be the first one to attempt this. 😐
Looking through the Internet it seems there’s no way of ex/importing a node’s configuration if it’s not running. I couldn’t find any documentation on how to import a Mnesia backup into a new node or extract data from it into a usable form. 😞
In the following you’ll see the following placeholders:
- RABBITMQ_MNESIA_BASE will be /var/lib/rabbitmq/mnesia on Debian (see RabbitMQ’S file locations)
- RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR is just $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_BASE/$RABBITMQ_NODENAME
- BROKEN_NODENAME the $RABBITMQ_NODENAME of the broken server we have backups from
- BROKEN_HOST the hostname of said server
One more thing before we start: if I say “fix permissions” below I mean
sudo chown -R rabbitmq:rabbitmq $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR
My first try was to just copy the broken node’s Mnesia files to the VM’s $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR failed. The files contained node names that RabbitMQ tried to reach but were unreachable from the VM.
"Mnesia could not connect to any nodes."},
So I tried to be a little bit more picky on what I copied.
First I had to reset $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR by deleting it and have RabbitMQ recreate it. (I needed to do this way too many times 😭)
sudo service rabbitmq-server stop
rm -r $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR
sudo service rabbitmq-server start
Stopping RabbitMQ I tried to feed it the broken server’s data in piecemeal fashion. This time I only copied the rabbit_*.[DCD,DCL] and restarted RabbitMQ.
Looking at the web management interface there were all the queues we were missing, but they were “down” and clicking on them told you
The object you clicked on was not found; it may have been deleted on the server.
Copying any more data didn’t solve the issue. So this was a dead end. 😫
So I thought why doesn’t the RabbitMQ in the VM pretend to be the exact same node as on the broken server?
So I created a /etc/rabbitmq/rabbitmq-env.conf with NODENAME=$BROKEN_NODENAME in there.
I copied the backup to $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR (now with the new node name) and fixed the permissions.
Now starting RabbitMQ failed with
ERROR: epmd error for host $BROKEN_HOST: nxdomain (non-existing domain)
I edited /etc/hosts to add $BROKEN_HOST to the list of names that resolve to 127.0.0.1.
Now restarting RabbitMQ failed with yet another error:
Now what? Why don’t I try to give it the Mnesia files piece by piece again?
- Reset $RABBITMQ_MNESIA_DIR
- Stop RabbitMQ
- Copy rabbit_* files in again and fix their permissions
- Start RabbitMQ
All our queues were back and all their configuration seemed OK as well. But we still didn’t have our messages back yet.
So I tried to copy more and more files over from the backup repeating the above steps. I finally reached my goal after copying rabbit_* , msg_store_* , queues and recovery.dets. Fixing their permissions and starting RabbitMQ it had all the queues restored with all the messages in them. 😂
Now I could use ordinary methods to extract all the messages. Dumping all the messages and examining them they looked OK. Publishing the recovered messages to the new server I was pretty euphoric. 😁