scp: Write Failed: Cannot allocate memory

Jeremy Chadwick freebsd at
Fri Jul 1 22:22:39 UTC 2011

On Fri, Jul 01, 2011 at 03:13:17PM -0400, Scott Sipe wrote:
> I'm running 8.2-RELEASE and am having new problems with scp. When scping
> files to a ZFS directory on the FreeBSD server -- most notably large files
> -- the transfer frequently dies after just a few seconds. In my last test, I
> tried to scp an 800mb file to the FreeBSD system and the transfer died after
> 200mb. It completely copied the next 4 times I tried, and then died again on
> the next attempt.
> On the client side:
> "Connection to home closed by remote host.
> lost connection"
> In /var/log/auth.log:
> Jul  1 14:54:42 freebsd sshd[18955]: fatal: Write failed: Cannot allocate
> memory
> I've never seen this before and have used scp before to transfer large files
> without problems. This computer has been used in production for months and
> has a current uptime of 36 days. I have not been able to notice any problems
> copying files to the server via samba or netatalk, or any problems in
> apache.
> Uname:
> FreeBSD xeon 8.2-RELEASE FreeBSD 8.2-RELEASE #0: Sat Feb 19 01:02:54 EST
> 2011     root at xeon:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/GENERIC  amd64
> I've attached my dmesg and output of vmstat -z.
> I have not restarted the sshd daemon or rebooted the computer.
> Am glad to provide any other information or test anything else.
> {snip vmstat -z and dmesg}

You didn't provide details about your networking setup (rc.conf,
ifconfig -a, etc.).  netstat -m would be useful too.

Next, please see this thread circa September 2010, titled "Network
memory allocation failures":

The user in that thread is using rsync, which relies on scp by default.
I believe this problem is similar, if not identical, to yours.

| Jeremy Chadwick                                jdc at |
| Parodius Networking              |
| UNIX Systems Administrator                   Mountain View, CA, US |
| Making life hard for others since 1977.               PGP 4BD6C0CB |

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