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Walking down the Memory Lane!!!

This post is going to be an account of  few trouble-shootings I did recently to combat various I/O sluggishness.
Slow system during problems with backup
We have a NFS mount where we push backups of our database daily. Due to some update to the NFS infra, we started seeing throughput of NFS server drastically affected. During this time we saw general sluggishness in the system during backups. Even ssh logins appeared slower. Some boxes had to be rebooted due to this sluggishness as they were too slow to operate on them. First question we wanted to answer, does NFS keep writing if the server is slow? The slow server applied back pressure by sending small advertised window(TCP) to clients. So clients can't push huge writes if server is affected. Client writes to its page cache. The data from page cache is pushed to server when there is a memory pressure or file close is called. If server is slow, client can easily reach upto dirty_background_ratio set for page cache in sysctl. This di…

Lessons from Memory

Started debugging an issue where Linux started calling OOM reaper despite tons of memory is used as Linux cached pages. My assumption was if there is a memory pressure, cache should shrink and leave way for the application to use. This is the documented and expected behavior. OOM reaper is called when few number of times page allocation has failed consequently. If for example mysql wants to grow its buffer and it asks for a page allocation and if the page allocation fails repeatedly, kernel invokes oom reaper. OOM reaper won't move out pages, it sleeps for some time and sees if kswapd or a program has freed up caches/application pages. If not it will start doing the dirty job of killing applications and freeing up memory. In our mysql setup, mysql is the application using most of the Used Memory, so no other application can free up memory for mysql to use. Cached pages are stored as 2 lists in Linux kernel viz active and inactive.
More details here
https://www.kernel.org/doc/gorman…