With the 5.7.0 release of ActiveMQ the storage locking mechanism used by a persistence adapter is pluggable. This feature only applies to brokers configured in a shared storage master/slave topology. Prior to release 5.7.0 the storage locking mechanism (and thus master election) was dictated by the choice of persistence adapter. With the KahaDB persistence adapter, for example, the storage locking mechanism was based on a shared file lock. Similarly, the JDBC persistence adapter used a database backed storage lock.

Now that the choice of storage lock is divorced from that of the persistence adapter one can mix and match. Storage locker pluggability is made possible because all lockers must implement the Locker interface. This interface makes it easy to implement your own storage locker when you have special requirements. Of course, every persistence adapter still has its own default locker which works as before.


Every locker must implement the Locker interface. The locker has the following properties:

Property Name

Default Value




Delay interval in milliseconds between lock acquire attempts



Should the start fail immediately if lock cannot be obtained

Persistence Adapters

Every persistence adapter (or other broker service that wants to use locks) needs to implement the Lockable interface. This adds the following properties:

Property Name

Default Value




can be used to turn off locking if necessary



If bigger than 0, time period (in milliseconds) to keep lock alive

Existing Lockers

Shared File Locker

The Shared File Locker is the default locker for the KahaDB persistence adapter. It locks a file to ensure that only the broker holding the lock (the master) is granted access to the message store.


This locker implements the keepAlive method from 5.9.0 onwards so there's no point in using lockKeepAlivePeriod settings on older versions than ActiveMQ 5.9.0. Note that as of ActiveMQ 5.9.0 the KahaDB persistence adapter can also use the Lease Database Locker (see below).

Database Locker

The Database Locker is the default locker for the JDBC persistence adapter. It locks a database table in a transaction to ensure that only single resource is used.


The Database Locker uses its keepAlive method to ensure the broker still holds the lock. You can set the keep alive period using the lockKeepAlivePeriod property. The default period is 30000 ms. If a broker fails to acquire the lock on the database, it will retry every lockAcquireSleepInterval milliseconds.

This locker opens a JDBC transaction against a database table (activemq_lock) that lasts as long as the broker remains alive. This locks the entire table and prevents another broker from accessing the store. In most cases this will be a fairly long running JDBC transaction which occupies resources on the database over time.

A problem with this locker can arise when the master broker crashes or loses its connection to the database causing the lock to remain in the database until the database responds to the half closed socket connection via a TCP timeout. The database lock expiry requirement can prevent the slave from starting some time. In addition, if the database supports failover, and the connection is dropped in the event of a replica failover, that JDBC transaction will be rolled back. The broker sees this as a failure. Both master and slave brokes will again compete for a lock.

Lease Database Locker

The Lease Database Locker was created to solve the shortcomings of the Database Locker. The Lease Database Locker does not open a long running JDBC transaction. Instead it lets the master broker acquire a lock that's valid for a fixed (usually short) duration after which it expires. To retain the lock the master broker must periodically extend the lock's lease before it expires. Simultaneously the slave broker also checks periodically to see if the lease has expired. If, for whatever reason, the master broker fails to update its lease on the lock the slave will take ownership of the lock becoming the new master in the process. The leased lock can survive a DB replica failover.


In order for this mechanism to work correctly, each broker in the master/slave pair must have a different brokerName attribute defined on the broker tag or use the leaseHolderId attribute on the lease-database-locker, as it is this value that is used to reserve a lease.

The lease based lock is acquired by blocking at startup. It is then retained for a period whose duration (in ms) is given by the lockKeepAlivePeriod attribute. To retain the lock the master broker periodically extends its lease by lockAcquireSleepInterval milliseconds each time. In theory, therefore, the master broker is always (lockAcquireSleepInterval - lockKeepAlivePeriod) ahead of the slave broker with regard to the lease. It is imperative that lockAcquireSleepInterval > lockKeepAlivePeriod, to ensure the lease is always current. As of ActiveMQ 5.9.0 a warning message is logged if this condition is not met.

In the simplest case, the clocks between master and slave must be in sync for this solution to work properly. If the clocks cannot be in sync, the locker can use the system time from the database CURRENT TIME and adjust the timeouts in accordance with their local variance from the DB system time. If maxAllowableDiffFromDBTime is greater than zero the local periods will be adjusted by any delta that exceeds maxAllowableDiffFromDBTime.


It is important to know if the default rules your JDBC driver uses for converting TIME values are JDBC compliant. If you're using MySQL, for example, the driver's JDBC URL should contain useJDBCCompliantTimezoneShift=true to ensure that TIME value conversion is JDBC compliant. If not the locker could report a large time difference when it compares the retrieved lease expiration time against the current system time. Consult your JDBC driver's documentation for more details.

As of ActiveMQ 5.9.0 the lease database locker can be used in conjunction with the KahaDB persistence adapter. However, this particular combination requires that the lease database locker element contains a <statements/> child element. In the example below the lockTableName is also configured, although doing so is not mandatory.

To see the complete list of attributes and SQL statements that can be overridden see the Statements class. When the KahaDB persistence adapter is configured to use the lease-database-locker you must configure the broker to use your own IO exception handler as neither the DefaultIOExceptionHandler nor the JDBCIOExceptionHandler will work correctly with this combination. See Configurable IOException Handlers for details on how to write a handler.

As of ActiveMQ 5.11, however, the JDBCIOExceptionHandler has been deprecated. It has been replaced by the org.apache.activemq.util.LeaseLockerIOExceptionHandler that will work with any persistence adapter that supports pluggable storage lockers (whether or not one is configured).



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