Long Format Directory Listing 15x Slower in FreeBSD 5.x

Brooks Davis brooks at one-eyed-alien.net
Mon Sep 12 18:33:55 PDT 2005

On Mon, Sep 12, 2005 at 08:51:44PM -0400, Kris Kennaway wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 13, 2005 at 11:55:55AM +1200, Nikolai Schupbach wrote:
> > Hello,
> > 
> > We have been trying to migrate to FreeBSD 5.4 from an older 4.x release 
> > for one of our busy mail servers. But we have encountered problems with 
> > directory listings on 5.4.
> > 
> > Our /var/mail directory contains approximately 8,000 files doing a long 
> > directory listing (ls -l) takes approximately 5 min and during this time 
> > the CPU is running near 100%, on a FSBD 4 box the same directory 
> > contents takes less than 20 seconds to list. Even on a directory with 
> > 200 files, each file with a different owner, it will still take at least 
> > 4-5 seconds to list. The problems only seems to occur when the directory 
> > contains files from many different users. (as in /var/mail). If I chown 
> > all the files in the /var/mail directory to a single user the directory 
> > listing is near instant.
> > 
> > It appears it has something to do with 'ls' looking up the id's in the 
> > password database, because if I instruct ls to display numeric IDs (ls 
> > -ln), rather than converting to user and group names, the directory with 
> > 8,000 files, with 8,000 different owners will list instantly.
> > 
> > The reason this concerns me so much is we are also having a problem with 
> > our Washington IMAP / POP3 server on FBSD 5 using a lot of CPU while 
> > operating on small and even 0 byte mailboxes, when there are approx five 
> > or more concurrent POP3 or IMAP sessions. And I can't help thinking that 
> > the two problems are related.
> > 
> > Does anyone have any ideas? Has anyone else noticed this problem? If I 
> > can't resolve it I'm most likely going to revert to using 4.11, but I'd 
> > really like to know what is going on. (and yes I'm using UFS_DIRHASH)
> Sounds like the real problem is that you have >8000 users on your
> machine and lookups are taking a long time.  There has been discussion
> of this problem and how to solve it on freebsd-questions@ several
> times..I think it involves making a minor change to pwd_mkdb and
> rebuilding.  Please search the archives for that mailing list.

If you are using NIS and have any compat options in /etc/nsswitch.conf
your performance will really suck in situations like this.  IIRC, the
compat code is worse than O(n^2) if you look up each user and the
non-compat code is close to O(n).  I'd really like to stop generating
nsswitch.conf entries that use compat in 7.0.

-- Brooks

Any statement of the form "X is the one, true Y" is FALSE.
PGP fingerprint 655D 519C 26A7 82E7 2529  9BF0 5D8E 8BE9 F238 1AD4
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