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Respite from the OOM killer

Respite from the OOM killer

Posted Oct 4, 2004 17:22 UTC (Mon) by jzbiciak (subscriber, #5246)
In reply to: Respite from the OOM killer by giraffedata
Parent article: Respite from the OOM killer

...and both are broken.

But, just like my car, which currently idles rough, has an exhaust leak, and the "service engine" light's on, it still gets me to and from work.

The difference is in the failure mode. Do you degrade gracefully, or do you start to blow up at the first sign of error? If you're a user, you probably want graceful degradation--you can tolerate some excessive swapping to a point, and if it gets too bad, you reboot. At least OOo didn't implode taking your document with it. If you're a developer, you probably want to know ASAP something's wrong so you can fix it.

Thankfully, my car still runs (albeit not entirely happily), rather than flashing "service engine" and shutting down.


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Respite from the OOM killer

Posted Oct 5, 2004 3:50 UTC (Tue) by mbp (guest, #2737) [Link]

OK, graceful degradation is nice. But it's hard to tell whether overcommit helps or hurts.

Even car designers have this problem: some modern cars will refuse to start if the engine is getting into a state where there is a chance of permanent damage. If it's approaching zero oil pressure, I think I would rather have an electronic cutout than an engine seizure.

Respite from the OOM killer

Posted Oct 6, 2004 15:51 UTC (Wed) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

If you're a user, you probably want graceful degradation--you can tolerate some excessive swapping to a point, and if it gets too bad, you reboot. At least OOo didn't implode taking your document with it.

True, but that's not an option with either of the cases being discussed -- overcommit or no overcommit. This choice comes into play only when there's no place left to swap to.

The no-overcommit case can cause OOo to fail more gracefully. If OOo is written to tolerate a failed fork (et al) and give you the chance to kill some other process and then save your document, then no-overcommit could be a good thing for OOo.

On the other hand, if you don't have the technical skills to find the right process to kill, you're going to have to reboot anyway and lose your document. By contrast, with overcommit, you probably wouldn't have lost the document. Either there never would have been a crisis in the first place, or the OOM killer would have killed some other process and let OOo continue normally.


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