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Re: Degradation of GNU/Hurd ``system performance''

From: olafBuddenhagen
Subject: Re: Degradation of GNU/Hurd ``system performance''
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2011 06:42:22 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)


On Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 10:32:03AM +0200, Thomas Schwinge wrote:

> Building a certain GCC configuration on a freshly booted system: 11 h.
> Remove build tree, build it again (2nd): 12 h 50 min.  Huh.  Remove
> build tree, reboot, build it again (1st): back to 11 h.  Remove build
> tree, build it again (2nd): 12 h 40 min.  Remove build tree, build it
> again (3rd): 15 h.

I first observed this a long time ago: opening my large NFS-mounted
mailbox is considerably quicker after a fresh boot than after running
for a while.

As recently I aquired the (bad) habit of running my system 24/7, almost
never voluntarily rebooting, I was able to make further observations.
Over a period of a couple of weeks (mostly light load), many things
become increasingly more sluggish; until finally the system dies with
paging errors. Swap usage also rises constantly over this time,
generally approaching somewhat above 500 MiB before the crash -- which
more or less matches my physical RAM size. (But there is still plenty of
swap free.)

One of the things becoming sluggish is opening a new interactive bash
instance: it goes up from a few seconds to about 20 seconds before the
crash. At a guess, most of the slowness is related to reading my
oversized command history... But I don't know whether it's actually the
file read getting slower, or allocating memory for the stuff being read
in. (Same for the mail thing.)

Recently I also observed that writing the mailbox to the local /tmp also
seems to become slow -- haven't tried confirming this though.

Another test case is opening an 8 megapixel photo in ImageMagick's
"display" (which is very inefficient on memory in general): while on a
freshly booted system it's quite OK, it becomes really slow over time.
(My last paging crash was actually triggered while doing this...)

Regarding the used swap approaching RAM size, it might be related to the
fact that once memory is full, things start getting swapped out, and
remain there even when read back in, as long as the pages remain clean.
However, this wouldn't explain the crash coinciding with the used swap
size approaching physical RAM size... unless it's really mere

But why does the memory usage grow in the first place? Some of it might
be explained by the fact that I tend to accumulate more and more open
shells (and other processes) over time -- but I don't believe it
accounts for the bulk of it. Also, the sum of the physical memory used
by all processes according to PS is considerably below the total RAM
used as reported by vmstat -- where does this memory go?

The slowdown might be a result of the growing memory usage, causing a
need to swap all the time. There is no audible thrashing though while
the system behaves sluggish... And also, it wouldn't explain the crash
while there is still plenty of free swap.

Another possible explanation would be some kind of fragmentation, making
VM operations increasingly more costly, and finally causing some kind of
resource exhaustion. (The disappearing memory however wouldn't be
explained by this either I guess...)

Either way, I have no idea how to go about narrowing down the problem


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