Something rotten in the OS?

Bob Hall rjhjr at
Fri Aug 22 12:01:03 PDT 2003

On Fri, Aug 22, 2003 at 10:13:30AM -0700, Steve Warwick wrote:
> Hey All, 
> I have just had my 2nd HD crash in a year - different machine, different
> type of drive etc - the only consistency is the OS and the installed
> software.
> It looks like this is some kind of overflow????
> This problem seems to start after about a month and is indicated by there
> being fragments of the kernel config data in the daily kernel log messages.
> I asked about that on this list but people seemed to think it was just some
> kind of log rotation.
> I caught the machine a couple of months ago with nearly all the swap used
> (800meg out of 1 gig) and rebooted which kept the machine happy.
> I recently noticed the kernel log messages had the config fragments again
> and was going to to a reboot - but alas too late. The machine is down, HD is
> damaged and we are trying to get data off the drive...
> This is exactly the problem that occurred 6 months ago. That time I put it
> down to lousy overheated hosting but now I don't have that excuse.
> Has anyone seen this before?
> Does FreeBSD have to be re-booted every month for safety?

FBSD has a growing niche with businesses where a small number of admins 
manage large numbers of hosts under continuous and heavy use. So no, 
it usually doesn't have to be re-booted every month. And I doubt the 
problem is the OS.

You haven't said what hardware you're using or what you are using FBSD 
for. FBSD seems to be more susceptible to having random bits 
reset by voltage fluctuations than other OSs. That fact that the 
problem recurred on another machine doesn't rule out hardware problems; 
I've seen lots of defective desktop machines. If you are moving from 
one lowest-bidder machine to another, you could easily be moving from 
one collection of incompatible parts to another. And you haven't said 
anything about what software you are running or what your are using it 
for. Some software is more prone to problems than others, your software 
may be misconfigured in some subtle way, or you may be using it in ways 
it doesn't like.

And finally, every OS has its own unique set of weaknesses, so sometimes 
you can fix a problem by changing the OS. Whether the new OS is better 
or worse is irrelevant, as long as it isn't susceptible to the problems 
that are crashing the current OS. 

Bob Hall

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