Troubleshooting Rackspace CDN not serving files

A customer came to us with an issue with their CDN which was strange and odd. I wanted to document this so that it is understood why this happened.

The customer is using two TLS origins, and HTTP2. Why that is a problem will become evidently clear. This is a general method of troubleshooting in terms of replicating behaviour of the CDN and origin with host headers. This can be applied no matter what the problem, to understand the HTTP code given by the origin, which at least half of the time turns out to be the cause. The origin being the cloud-server your CDN is backed by.

We are currently experiencing some issues with the Cloud CDN. We are using this for our CSS and images and now everything is getting a HTTP/503 SERVICE UNAVAILABLE. If you want to test, you may test this url:

This is supposed to deliver this file:

Is something mis-configured or are there some issues on the appliance?


First we confirm the origin is UP

# curl -I
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:45:42 GMT
Server: Apache
Last-Modified: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 06:57:53 GMT
ETag: "ed26-53e91653c61d0"
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 60710
Vary: Accept-Encoding
Cache-Control: max-age=31536000, public
Expires: Wed, 11 Oct 2017 08:45:42 GMT
Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
Content-Type: text/css

The origin is the cloud-server where the CDN pulls from. As we can see the site is up. So what is causing the issue? The way CDN works is it provides a host header for the domain, so the site has to have a host for both domains. The reason is that the CDN uses CNAME hostnames to identify which CDN is which. I.e. which path like /media/ directs to which static origins subdomain.

The best way to look further at the situation now is to check the origin (the subdomain that you’ve associated with your CDN subdomain that raxspace gives you, when sending the host header for the CDN url we get:

[email protected]:~# curl -I -H 'host:'
HTTP/1.1 421 Misdirected Request
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:17:38 GMT
Server: Apache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

As we can see we get this odd HTTP 421 misdirected request.

# curl -I -H 'host:'
HTTP/1.1 421 Misdirected Request
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:18:06 GMT
Server: Apache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

~# curl -I -H 'host:'
HTTP/1.1 421 Misdirected Request
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:17:45 GMT
Server: Apache
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

Looking at the definition for HTTP 2, this issue was caused by different TLS configurations for your domains and mod http2 trying to reuse the same connection, which will not work if the TLS configurations are not the same on the origin cloud-server side.

You just need to disable HTTP2, or configure the TLS configurations to be the same on the apache2 side. I hope that this clarifies and makes sense to you, of course if you have additional questions, comments or concerns please don't hesitate to reach out to us, we are here to help!

As you can see the importance of debugging CDN by sending host header to the origin that the CDN uses, to replicate the issue the customer was experiencing, which was essentially, the CDN edgenodes (the machines around the world that pull from the origin for content distribution really worldwide), weren't able to retrieve the files from the origin with the host header domain that is defined in the control panel.

This customer needed to in this case adjust their Apache2 configuration. The problem was likely caused by updating Apache2 or similar.

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