Circus 0.4 coming soon


Circus is a program that will let you run and watch multiple processes. Like Supervisord, BluePill and Daemontools.

The next release of Circus, that should be happening soon, has some new features I want to hilight in this post:

  1. circusd-stats, a process that streams statistics on Circus.
  2. circus-top, a top-like console
  3. circushttpd, a Web Managment interface


In Circus 0.3, if you want to know how much CPU and Memory each process takes, you can use circusctl:

$ bin/circusctl stats dummy
1: 91238  python root 0 3M 2G 62.6 0.1 0:04.80
3: 91240  python root 0 3M 2G 63.2 0.1 0:04.80
2: 91239  python root 0 3M 2G 63.1 0.1 0:04.80
5: 91242  python root 0 3M 2G 62.8 0.1 0:04.82
4: 91241  python root 0 3M 2G 62.6 0.1 0:04.76

I was a bit amazed by the inaccuracy of our CPU stats when I compared them to a simple call to ps or top.

The problem was that psutil, the library we use to build the stats, has two ways of calculating the CPU usage:

  • a blocking call, that calculates the usage of the CPU for a bit of time, like 500ms.
  • a non-blocking call, that just returns the value since the last call, that will be accurate as long as you wait at least 100ms between two calls.

The problem with any of these techniques is that, when you have hundreds of processes running, you can't really do this calculation on the fly without making the client wait for a long time. And Circus naively used the non-blocking calls, meaning that the CPU usage values was relying on the frequency of client calls.

circusd-stats solves this problem by constantly calculating in a separate process all the stats for all the processes. It has a dedicated thread per watcher, and simply listens to Circus pub/sub socket to know when a process is added or removed.

circusd-stats itself publishes at a constant pace in a new, dedicated ZMQ pub/sub channel the stats for each process, and also aggregated stats for each watcher.

From there, any feature that needs accurate stats can register to that pub/sub channel to receive the stats. Stats can be filtered by watcher name, by PID, or the client can get all of them.

circusd-stats CPU usage can be quite important, so we've added configurable intervals between two stats calls.


The first stats client we've added into Circus is circus-top, a console script that uses curses to display a console dashboard where every process CPU and memory usage is constantly refreshed.

It's a read-only console, so you can't do anything like killing a process, but it is a good way to check if there's any issue with your system


I have already talked about the Web Admin tool we were building here :

And well, thanks to Adnane, it now look really great. Check out the new screencast:

circushttpd is a heavy user of stats, and instead of using the stats command circusd provides, it now uses the circusd-stats stream.

What's next

We're currently changing circusdhttp so it uses instead of the current polling. will use web sockets when the browser is compatible, and fallback to XHR-polling.

Once this integration is ready, we'll cut a 0.4

An exciting feature is planned for 0.5 : circus-cluster, a tool to drive several instances of circus we'll call Circus Nodes.

This new feature will allow you to run and manage a whole cluster. circus-top and circushttpd will be adapted to work with circus-cluster as well.

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