SCHED_ULE & niceness / rtprio

Jeff Roberson jroberson at
Tue Jan 1 20:56:17 PST 2008

On Tue, 20 Nov 2007, Kris Kennaway wrote:

> Yar Tikhiy wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> SCHED_ULE seems to do an unfair job to processes with low niceness
>> or with real-time priority.  Here are my observations:
>> A few days ago I noticed that music (played by Totem, Gnome's default
>> player) would pause for a fraction of second each time I did something
>> in X/Gnome, such as switched between windows, clicked on a link in
>> the web browser, etc.  Then I found that music was jerky only if
>> the player ran with a negative niceness or a real-time priority:
>> As soon as I returned it to niceness 0 and normal priority, sound
>> became totally seamless notwithstanding my activity in X.
>> The approximate value required for the effect to appear was niceness
>> as low as -5 or RT priority as high as 10; niceness -1 or rtprio 1
>> wasn't enough.
>> Curious, I substituted SCHED_4BSD for SCHED_ULE in my otherwise
>> GENERIC kernel, and the jerkiness of sound was gone irrespective
>> of the niceness or RT priority of the player.
>> To rule out other possible causes, I also tried kernels with SCHED_ULE
>> but without SMP or without debug stuff (INVARIANTS+WITNESS), but
>> the issue was there in both cases, unlike in the case of SCHED_4BSD.
>> Of course, X+Gnome+stuff isn't the clearest environment for debugging
>> schedulers, but multimedia apps are rather sensitive to scheduling
>> quality.  This case should be rather obvious:  When I click in an
>> inactive window, some processes are woken that have been idle.
>> After that the high-priority player isn't scheduled long enough for
>> the hardware audo buffer to drain, although it would be scheduled
>> soon if it had normal priority.
>> Did I hit a known issue?
> Others have reported it, but I don't know if Jeff has had time to investigate 
> yet.

I tried to reproduce this recently by running mplayer with various nice 
values while scrolling around a lot in firefox.  This is on a 1.4ghz 
machine.  I didn't encounter any problems.

If anyone is having nice related problems with ULE I'd love a simple test 
case that shows it.  I tried installing boinc which was mentioned in other 
threads but had trouble contacting the servers and getting it setup. 
Something simpler would be very beneficial.


> Kris

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