From: Mario Camuņas (mario_camunas_at_hotmail.com)
To: email@example.com Date: Wed, 01 Oct 2003 10:51:02 +0200
Our scenario is the following:
One web server runninng kernel 2.4.9-e-12(smp), it is used to host an
Apache webserver with an integrated application server. The system has 2Gb
of RAM and 2Gb of swap. The last day an strange thing happened. We tried to
connect to our system using ssh and we canīt, after many attempts we could
connect to the system and saw that we couldnīt connect because there was a
lack of memory. Every proccess you tried to start failed and gave the
following error message" fork failed: Canīt allocate memory (errno=12)".
The output of the free -k command showed that the swap space(there was only
5 Mb of free RAM) wasnīt being used and we donīt understand why. We have
found a lot of similar cases of systems that couldnīt fork but were plenty
of unused swap space so we thought we would find answers for this problem
but we havenīt found any(although we have looked for one a lot).
We think that perhaps our freepages settings are too low( 1.6-4.5-7.4
Mb) and if we merge this low values with an excesive fragmented memory this
could explain our memory squeeze problems. Some of us have proposed the
theory that everytime a proccess is started it needs a little quantity of
contiguous memory and that if the system canīt provide it to the process it
dies before the fork is completed. Any idea about what can be happening
We have seen that kernel 2.4.9.e-24 seems to fix this kind of problems,
what do you think?
Apart from kernel upgrading we want to change the values(freepages) that
control the swapping but we have seen in redhat release-notes that these
parameters shouldnīt been changed(although it seems more a microsoft
disclaimer"You are a fool so please donīt do anything with your system" than
a real warning because there arenīt reasons about how can it spoil your
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