> To verify this, I patched suexec to exit immediatly at start.
> When I then load a PHP-script with the patched suexec, the delay is
> still there, and after that I receive the 500-Server error.
> Furthermore, when I call php5-cgi from the command-line, there is
> absolutely no delay.

the delay only occurs the _very first_ time you run php - in which the program 
will be loaded into ram from the harddisc. so if you bootup your PC and run 
PHP from the command line you will see the delay the first time, but not for 
consecutive runs...

when you run PHP from commandline after apache already has started PHP once, 
you are already running from a warm disc cache...

let me speculate some more:
the fact that you see this behavior when you restart apache may indicate that 
your servers are under very light load, since otherwise PHP would have been 
restarted a couple of times during the lifetime of the apache parent and thus 
would have started from warm disc caches. this may not be true for some 
workloads where the disc cache is evicted very rapidly (low memory).

basically, the reason for the delay is your harddisc, not apache or mod_fcgid 
or php... 

this is still all speculation, but if some of what i said is right, you might 
be able to reduce the latency by priming your cache. try calling php from the 
commandline right before you reload apache...


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