Need a simple tool to test site performance

I have a test installation of our web-product on a separate server and I need to make sure it can handle high loads. So far I’ve been using Load Impact and Blitz however they charge a sizable amount of money for the service and are basically a total overkill for what I need. What happens is that at a certain user-per-second rate the server completely dies and I need to debug that. To do that I would need some simple script (bash, php, etc) that I could install locally, plug user/second rate into it and have it running for a few minutes while observing what happens on the server. The output should be basic statistics – number of total requests sent and number of successful requests. Does anyone know a good tool for this (I though it’s a good idea to ask before starting to code it myself :) ).

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