Re: fork on processes with lots of memory

From: Felix von Leitner
Date: Tue Jan 26 2016 - 11:29:00 EST

> Dear Linux kernel devs,

> I talked to someone who uses large Linux based hardware to run a
> process with huge memory requirements (think 4 GB), and he told me that
> if they do a fork() syscall on that process, the whole system comes to
> standstill. And not just for a second or two. He said they measured a 45
> minute (!) delay before the system became responsive again.

I'm sorry, I meant 4 TB not 4 GB.
I'm not used to working with that kind of memory sizes.

> Their working theory is that all the pages need to be marked copy-on-write
> in both processes, and if you touch one page, a copy needs to be made,
> and than just takes a while if you have a billion pages.

> I was wondering if there is any advice for such situations from the
> memory management people on this list.

> In this case the fork was for an execve afterwards, but I was going to
> recommend fork to them for something else that can not be tricked around
> with vfork.

> Can anyone comment on whether the 45 minute number sounds like it could
> be real? When I heard it, I was flabberghasted. But the other person
> swore it was real. Can a fork cause this much of a delay? Is there a way
> to work around it?

> I was going to recommend the fork to create a boundary between the
> processes, so that you can recover from memory corruption in one
> process. In fact, after the fork I would want to munmap almost all of
> the shared pages anyway, but there is no way to tell fork that.

> Thanks,

> Felix

> PS: Please put me on Cc if you reply, I'm not subscribed to this mailing
> list.