Re: Over-enthusiastic OOM killer.

From: Andrew Morton (
Date: Thu Dec 13 2001 - 14:19:04 EST

Dave Jones wrote:
> On Wed, 12 Dec 2001, Linus Torvalds wrote:
> > >The oom killer just killed a bunch of processes on my workstation.
> > >What I don't understand, is why this was deemed necessary, when
> > >there was 400MB of buffer cache sitting around in memory, and 175MB
> > >of free swap space unused. (66mb of swap was used)
> >
> > Ehh.. I bet you didn't have free swap.
> Difficult to say after the killing, but even if that were the case,
> why wasn't buffer cache pruned before the more drastic action ?
> After the killing, there was 400MB of real memory, doing absolutely
> nothing but holding cached data.

It's a well-known (?) bug in 2.4.17-pre VM. Anon allocations are
going onto the inactive list, so the inactive list is hugely larger
than the active list. So this expression in shrink_caches:

        ratio = (unsigned long) nr_pages * nr_active_pages / ((nr_inactive_pages + 1) * 2);

Evaluates to sero all the time, so we never move any of the buffercache
pages onto the inactive list from where they can be freed.

It can be fixed with

        if (ratio == 0)
                ratio = nr_pages;

It can be fixed by putting anon pages onto the active list in

It can probably be fixed with Rik's remove-use-once patch. I
haven't tested that.

It is fixed in the latest -aa patch.

The remaining minor detail is that it isn't fixed in Linux :(

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Dec 15 2001 - 21:00:26 EST