swapfile being eaten by unknown process

John lists at reiteration.net
Thu Feb 17 05:12:14 PST 2005

On Tue, 15 Feb 2005 17:31:05 +0100 (CET), Oliver Fromme wrote


> You do not need more RAM.  At most, a little more swap
> space wouldn't hurt, but even that isn't strictly
> necessary, given that only 18% of your swap are in use.
> I'd start worrying if that number goes beyond 50%.

I think I've sussed it.

The top 10 processes always had perl. This system uses perl intensively, for
openwebmail, spamassassin and clamav uses it as well but not to the extent of
openwebmail. So I did some intensive openwebmail tasks like shifting mail
directories around then reindexing them, whilst watching top and tailing
/var/log/messages, and as the swap usage approached 99%, the messages log got
spammed with a load of 'cannot allocate swap' or similar.

It's not openwebmail's 'fault' per se, it's just that it needs more resources,
and 256MB ram isn't really enough with the volume of mail this system gets.
The way around it for now has been to make an auxilliary swap file of roughly
the same size as the initial one. Now there's nearly a gig of swap, and it
isn't complaining, though with more users I can see this being eaten up as
well, unless I stick a lot more RAM in there.

I think it's a tribute to the stability of freebsd generally that the system
didn't fall over and die :) I know other *nix systems do under similar treatment.

best regards,
lists at reiteration.net

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