I understand some of the reasons for overcommitting memory when it's not known how much is really available or needed, but blocking on a definite out-of-memory seems just plain daft. If the kernel knows that no more memory is available why can't it pass that information on to user space?
The idea is that the out of memory situation is only temporary. The OOM killer or one of its user space henchmen will make more memory available eventually, probably by killing some process the administrator didn't say should be immune.
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