Book Image

Performance Testing with JMeter 2.9

By : Bayo Erinle
Book Image

Performance Testing with JMeter 2.9

By: Bayo Erinle

Overview of this book

Performance testing with JMeter 2.9 is critical to the success of any software product launch and continued scalability. Irrespective of the size of the application's user base, it's vital to deliver the best user experience to consumers. Apache JMeter is an excellent testing tool that provides an insight into how applications might behave under load enabling organizations to focus on making adequate preparations. Performance Testing with JMeter 2.9 is a practical, hands-on guide that equips you with all the essential skills needed to effectively use JMeter to test web applications using a number of clear and practical step-by-step guides. It allows you take full advantage of the real power behind Apache JMeter, quickly taking you from novice to master. Performance Testing with JMeter 2.9 begins with the fundamentals of performance testing and gets you acquainted with JMeter. It will guide you through recording realistic and maintainable scripts. You will acquire new skills working with tools such as Vagrant, Puppet, and AWS, allowing you to leverage the cloud to aid in distributed testing. You will learn how to do some BeanShell scripting and take advantage of regular expressions, JMeter properties, and extension points to build comprehensive and robust test suites. Also, you will learn how to test RESTful web services, deal with XML, JSON, file downloads/uploads, and much more. Topics like resource monitoring, distributed testing, managing sessions, and extending JMeter are also covered. Performance Testing with JMeter 2.9 will teach you all you need to know to take full advantage of JMeter for testing web applications, dazzle your co-workers, and impress your boss! You will go from novice to pro in no time.
Table of Contents (14 chapters)

Up and running with JMeter

Now let's get up and go running with JMeter, beginning with its installation.


JMeter comes as a bundled archive so it is super easy to get started with it. Those working in corporate environments behind a firewall or machines with non-admin privileges appreciate this more. To get started, grab the latest binary release by pointing your browser to At the time of writing, the current release version is 2.9. The download site offers the bundle as both zip and tar. In this book, we will use the ZIP option, but feel free to download the TGZ if that's your preferred way of grabbing archives.

Once downloaded, extract the archive to a location of your choice. Throughout this book, the location you extracted the archive to will be referred to as JMETER_HOME.

Provided you have a JDK/JRE correctly installed and a JAVA_HOME environment variable set, you are all set and ready to run!

The JMETER_HOME folder structure

The following are some of the folders in the apache-jmeter-2.9 folder, as shown in the preceding screenshot:

  • bin: This folder contains executable scripts to run and perform other operations in JMeter

  • docs: This folder contains a comprehensive user guide

  • extras: This folder contains miscellaneous items including samples illustrating using Apache Ant build tool ( with JMeter and bean shell scripting

  • lib: This is the folder utility JAR files needed by JMeter (you may add additional JARs here to use from within JMeter — more on that later)

  • printable_docs: This is the printable documentation

Installing Java JDK

Follow these steps to install Java JDK:

  1. Go to

  2. Download Java JDK (not JRE) compatible with the system you will be using to test.

  3. Double-click on the executable and follow the on-screen instructions.


    On Windows systems, the default location for the JDK is under Program Files. While there is nothing wrong with that, the issue is that the folder name contains a space, which can sometimes be problematic when attempting to set PATH and run programs such as JMeter from the command line. With that in mind, it is advisable to change the default location to something such as C:\tools\jdk.


The steps to set up the JAVA_HOME environment variable for Windows and Unix operating systems are explained next.

On Windows

For illustrative purposes, we assume you have installed Java JDK at C:\tools\jdk:

  1. Go to Control Panel.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Advance System settings.

  4. Add the Environment variable as follows:

    • Value: JAVA_HOME

    • Path: C:\tools\jdk

  5. Locate Path (under System variables; bottom half of the screen).

  6. Click on Edit.

  7. Append %JAVA_HOME%/bin to the end of the existing path value (if any).

On Unix

For illustrative purposes, we assume you have installed Java JDK at /opt/tools/jdk:

  1. Open a terminal window.

  2. Export JAVA_HOME=/opt/tools/jdk.

  3. Export PATH=$PATH:$JAVA_HOME.

It is advisable to set this in your shell profile settings such as .bash_profile (for Bash users) or .zshrc (for zsh users) so you won't have to set it for each new terminal window you open.

Running JMeter

Once installed, the bin folder under JMETER_HOME folder contains all the executable scripts that can be run. Based on which operating system you installed JMeter on, you either execute the shell scripts (.sh) for Unix/Linux flavored operating systems or their batch (.bat) counterparts on Windows operating systems.


JMeter files are saved as XML files with a .jmx extension. We refer to them as test scripts or JMX files in this book.

These scripts include:

  • This script launches JMeter GUI (the default)

  • This script launches JMeter in non-GUI mode (takes a JMX file as input)

  • This script lauches JMeter in non-GUI mode, remotely

  • This script opens a JMX file in the GUI

  • This script starts JMeter in server mode (this will be started on the master node when testing with multiple machines remotely. More on that in Chapter 6, Distributed Testing).

  • This script runs the mirror server for JMeter

  • This script gracefully shuts down a running non-GUI instance

  • This script abruptly shuts down a running non-GUI instance

To start JMeter, open a terminal shell, change to the JMETER_HOME\bin folder and run the following:

  • On Unix/Linux:

  • On Windows:


After a short moment, you should see the JMeter GUI (as shown in the following screenshot). Take a moment to explore the GUI. Hover over each icon to see a short description of what it does. The Apache JMeter team has done an excellent job with the GUI. Most icons are very similar to what you are used to, which helps ease the learning curve for new adapters. Some of the icons, for example, stop, and shutdown, are disabled until a scenario/test is being conducted. In the next chapter, we will explore the GUI in more detail as we record our first test script.

The Apache JMeter GUI

Command-line options

Running JMeter with incorrect option provides you with usage info. The options provided are as follows:

./ –

  -h, --help
    print usage information and exit
  -v, --version
    print the version information and exit
  -p, --propfile <argument>
    the jmeter property file to use
  -q, --addprop <argument>
    additional JMeter property file(s)
  -t, --testfile <argument>
    the jmeter test(.jmx) file to run
  -l, --logfile <argument>
    the file to log samples to
  -j, --jmeterlogfile <argument>
    jmeter run log file (jmeter.log)
  -n, --nongui
    run JMeter in nongui mode

The previous code snippet (non-exhaustive list) is what you might see if you did the same. We will explore some, but not all of these options as we go through the book.

JMeter's Classpath

Since JMeter is 100 percent pure Java, it comes packed with functionality to get most test cases scripted. However, there might come a time when you need to pull in a functionality provided by a third-party library or one developed by yourself, which is not present by default. As such, JMeter provides two directories where such third-party libraries can be placed to be autodiscovered in its classpath.

  • JMETER_HOME\lib: This is used for utility JARs

  • JMETER_HOME\lib\ext: This is used for JMeter components and add-ons. All custom developed JMeter components should be placed in the lib\ext folder, while third-party libraries (JAR files), should reside in the lib folder.

Configuring the proxy server

If you are working from behind a corporate firewall, you may need to configure JMeter to work with it by providing the proxy server host and port number. To do so, supply additional command-line parameters to JMeter when starting it up. Some of them are as follows:

  • -H: Specifies the proxy server hostname or IP address

  • -P: Specifies the proxy server port

  • -u: Specifies the proxy server username if required

  • -a: Specifies the proxy server password if required, for example:

    ./ -H proxy.server -P7567 -u username -a password

On Windows, run jmeter.bat instead.

Do not confuse the proxy server mentioned here with JMeter's built-in HTTP Proxy Server, which is used for recording HTTP or HTTPS browser sessions. We will be exploring that in the next chapter when we record our first test scenario.

Running in non-GUI mode

As described earlier, JMeter can run in non-GUI mode. This is needed for times when you are running remotely, or want to optimize your testing system by not taking the extra overhead cost of running the GUI. Normally, you will run the default (GUI), when recording your test scripts and running a light load but run in non-GUI mode for higher loads.

To do so, use the following command-line options:

  • -n: This command-line option indicates to run in non-GUI mode

  • -t: This command-line option specifies the name of the JMX test file

  • -l: This command-line option specifies the name of the JTL file to log results to

  • -j: This command-line option specifies the name of the JMeter run log file

  • -r: This command-line option runs the test servers specified by the JMeter property remote_hosts

  • -R: This command-line option runs the test on the specified remote servers (for example, -Rserver1,server2)

In addition, you can also use the -H and -P options to specify proxy server host and port, as we saw earlier:

./ -n -t test_plan_01.jmx -l log.jtl
Running in server mode

This is used when performing distributed testing; that is, using more testing servers to generate additional load on your system. JMeter will be kicked off in server mode on each remote server (slaves) and then a GUI on the master server is used to control the slave nodes. We will discuss this in detail when we dive into distributed testing in Chapter 6, Distributed Testing.



Specify the server.exitaftertest=true JMeter property if you want the server to exit after a single test has been completed. It is set to false by default.

Overriding properties

JMeter provides two ways to override Java, JMeter, and logging properties. One way is to directly edit the, which resides in the JMETER_HOME\bin folder. We'll suggest you take a peek into this file and see the vast number of properties you can override. This is one of the things that make JMeter so powerful and flexible. On most occasions, you will not need to override the defaults, as they have sensible default values.

The other way to override these values is directly from the command line when starting JMeter.

The options available to you include:

  • Define a Java system property value:

    -D<property name>=<value>
  • Define a local JMeter property:

    -J<property name>=<value>
  • Define a JMeter property to be sent to all remote servers:

    -G<property name>=<value>
  • Define a file containing JMeter properties to be sent to all remote servers:

    -G<property file>
  • Overriding a logging setting by setting a category to a given priority level:

    ./ -Duser.dir=/home/bobbyflare/jmeter_stuff \
        -Jremote_hosts= -Ljmeter.engine=DEBUG


Since command-line options are processed after the logging system has been set up, any attempts to use the -J flag to update the log_level or log_file properties will have no effect.

Tracking errors during test execution

JMeter keeps track of all errors that occur during a test in a logfile named jmeter.log by default. The file resides in the folder from which JMeter was launched. The name of this log file, like most things, can be configured in or via a command-line parameter (-j <name_of_log_file>). When running the GUI, the error count is indicated in the top-right corner, to the left of the number of threads running for the test. Clicking on it reveals the log file contents directly at the bottom of the GUI. The log file provides an insight into what exactly is going on in JMeter when your tests are being executed and helps determine the cause of error(s) when they occur.

The JMeter GUI error count/indicator

Configuring JMeter

Should you need to customize the default values for JMeter, you can do so by editing the file in the JMETER_HOME\bin folder, or making a copy of that file, renaming it to something different (for example,, and specifying that as a command-line option when starting JMeter.

Some options you can configure include:

  • xml.parser: It specifies a custom XML parser implementation. The default value is org.apache.xerces.parsers.SAXParser. It is not mandatory. If you find the provided SAX parser buggy for some of your use cases, this provides you the option to override it with another implementation. You could, for example, use javax.xml.parsers.SAXParser provided the right JARs exist on your instance of the JMeter classpath.

  • remote_hosts: It is a comma-delimited list of remote JMeter hosts (or host:port if required). When running JMeter in a distributed environment, list the machines where you have JMeter remote servers running. This will allow you to control those servers from this machine's GUI. This applies only while doing distributed testing and is not mandatory. More on this in Chapter 6, Distributed Testing.

  • not_in_menu: It is a list of components you do not want to see in JMeter's menus. Since JMeter has quite a number of components, you may wish to restrict it to show only components you are interested in or those you use regularly. You may list their classname or their class label (the string that appears in JMeter's UI) here, and they will no longer appear in the menus. The defaults are fine, and in our experience we have never had to customize this, but we list it here so that you are aware of its existence. It is not mandatory.

  • It specifies the name of the file containing additional JMeter properties. These are added after the initial property file, but before the -q and -J options are processed. It is not mandatory. User properties can be used to provide additional classpath configurations such as plugin paths, via the search_paths attribute, and utility JAR paths via the user_classpath attribute. In addition, these properties file can be used to fine-tune JMeter components' log verbosity.

    • search_paths: It specifies a list of paths (separated by ;) that JMeter will search for JMeter add-on classes; for example, additional samplers. This is in addition to any JARs found in the lib\ext folder. It is not mandatory. This comes in handy, for example, when extending JMeter with additional plugins that you don't intend to install in the JMETER_HOME\lib\ext folder. You could use this to specify an alternate location on the machine to pick up the plugins. See Chapter 5, Resource Monitoring.

    • user.classpath: In addition to JARs in the lib folder, use this attribute to provide additional paths JMeter will search for utility classes. It is not mandatory.

  • It specifies the name of the file containing additional system properties for JMeter to use. These are added before the -S and -D options are processed. It is not mandatory. This typically provides you with the ability to fine-tune various SSL settings, key stores, and certificates.

    • ssl.provider : It specifies a custom SSL implementation, if you don't want to use the built-in Java implementation. It is not mandatory. If for some reason, the default built-in Java implementation of SSL, which is quite robust, doesn't meet your particular usage scenario, this allows you to provide a custom one. In our experience, the default has always been sufficient.

The command-line options are processed in the following order of precedence:

  • -p profile is optional. If present, it is loaded and processed.

  • is loaded and processed after any user provided custom properties file.

  • -j logfile is optional. If present, it is loaded and processed after the file.

  • Logging is initialized.

  • is loaded (if any).

  • is loaded (if any).

  • All other command-line options are processed.