Re: Let's talk about the elephant in the room - the Linux kernel's inability to gracefully handle low memory pressure

From: Johannes Weiner
Date: Thu Aug 08 2019 - 13:27:30 EST

On Thu, Aug 08, 2019 at 04:47:18PM +0200, Vlastimil Babka wrote:
> On 8/7/19 10:51 PM, Johannes Weiner wrote:
> > From 9efda85451062dea4ea287a886e515efefeb1545 Mon Sep 17 00:00:00 2001
> > From: Johannes Weiner <hannes@xxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2019 13:15:16 -0400
> > Subject: [PATCH] psi: trigger the OOM killer on severe thrashing
> Thanks a lot, perhaps finally we are going to eat the elephant ;)
> I've tested this by booting with mem=8G and activating browser tabs as
> long as I could. Then initially the system started thrashing and didn't
> recover for minutes. Then I realized sysrq+f is disabled... Fixed that
> up after next reboot, tried lower thresholds, also started monitoring
> /proc/pressure/memory, and found out that after minutes of not being
> able to move the cursor, both avg10 and avg60 shows only around 15 for
> both some and full. Lowered thrashing_oom_level to 10 and (with
> thrashing_oom_period of 5) the thrashing OOM finally started kicking,
> and the system recovered by itself in reasonable time.

It sounds like there is a missing annotation. The time has to be going
somewhere, after all. One *known* missing vector I fixed recently is
stalls in submit_bio() itself when refaulting, but it's not merged
yet. Attaching the patch below, can you please test it?

> So my conclusion is that the patch works, but there's something odd with
> suspiciously low PSI memory values on my system. Any idea how to
> investigate this? Also, does it matter that it's a modern desktop, so
> systemd puts everything into cgroups, and the unified cgroup2 hierarchy
> is also mounted?

That shouldn't interfere because 1) pressure is reported recursively
up the cgroup tree, so unless something else runs completely fine on
the system, global pressure should reflect cgroup pressure and 2) the
systemd defaults doesn't set any memory limits or protections, so if
the system is hanging, it's unlikely that anything runs fine.

bcc tools ( has an awesome program
called 'offcputime' that gives you stack traces of sleeping tasks.
This could give an insight into where time is going and point out
operations we might not be annotating correctly yet.