Apache2 SQLite blob module

Apache SQLite Blob module

This module provides a handler to send file contents from a SQLite file instead of the filesystem.

The idea is to use a SQLite database file as a file storage. This is specially useful if you have a lot of small files, eg. images.

The idea is similar to what Facebook does with Haystack :

It's just adapted to a smaller scale, without the need of running specialized daemons.

Instead of having millions of files scattered in the filesystem, you would store your files directly in a SQLite file.

Pros and cons

Compared to an object storage, this approach requires much less overhead. There is no need to run new daemons or complex setups, just insert files to the SQLite database.

SQLite also provides handy built-ins, for example you can just delete files from the database and then just use VACUUM to have SQLite clean up the database from old file fragments.

It's also easy to store extra data, just add columns to the table!

Finally, it's very hard to actually corrupt a SQLite database.

The major con will be that it's probably not as efficient as a dedicated service, and you might reach limits faster if your data set grows to be very large.


According to my own benchmarks, HTTP performance is about 2 to 5% below serving regular files from the filesystem.

I experimented successfully with databases up to 10 GB containing about a dozen million files. It worked OK, but I recommend to not exceed 100,000 files or 1 GB per SQLite database to keep things simple and fast (just use partitioning, or sharding, to keep separate database files).

Note that it's not a hard limit, and SQLite can manage up to 8 TB of data in a single database using its default settings, or up to 140 TB if you change its page size setting. This is just a suggestion to keep things simple for you, as it may take a while to do a VACUUM or other heavy operation on a database once it gets very large.


On Debian/Ubuntu just start by installing the apache2-dev package:

	apt install apache2-dev

Usually, just running make from the src directory will be enough:

	cd src/

If you want to install the module in the Apache directory you can also run sudo make install. This will also enable the module in Apache2 config.

Last thing to do is to reload the Apache config using sudo apache2ctl graceful.


Just enable the correct handler in your configuration for the files you want to handle. Here is an example:

	<Directory /var/www/images>
		# Treat filenames ending with ".img" as SQLite blob database
		AddHandler sqliteblob .img
		RewriteEngine On
		RewriteRule /img/((\d)\d+)\.jpg /store_$2.img?id=$1

Creation of the database

To be accepted by this module, the SQLite database file must have an application_id set to 0x01021234. To do that just run:

PRAGMA application_id = 0x01021234;

This is just so it's not possible to use this module to query any random SQLite database.

The database must have a table named blob containing at least those columns:

You can add more columns if you wish, but if any of these columns is missing, a 500 error will be returned.

Here is a simple example of a basic blob database file:

PRAGMA application_id = 0x01021234;
	mimetype TEXT,
	updated INT,
	content BLOB

Then you can just insert files to the database. It is recommanded that you use sqlite3_blob_open to write the blob to the database, as it is faster than using binded parameters.

An example PHP script lies in src/make-blob-archive.php to create blob archives.

php make-blob-archive.php test.images images/ will append all files from the images directory to the test.images blob archive.


This module was written thanks to the help of docs from Apache