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SubjectRe: RFT: updatedb "morning after" problem [was: Re: -mm merge plans for 2.6.23]
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On Friday 27 July 2007 14:16:32 Rene Herman wrote:
> On 07/27/2007 07:45 PM, Daniel Hazelton wrote:
> > Updatedb or another process that uses the FS heavily runs on a users
> > 256MB P3-800 (when it is idle) and the VFS caches grow, causing memory
> > pressure that causes other applications to be swapped to disk. In the
> > morning the user has to wait for the system to swap those applications
> > back in.
> >
> > Questions about it:
> > Q) Does swap-prefetch help with this?
> > A) [From all reports I've seen (*)] Yes, it does.
>
> No it does not. If updatedb filled memory to the point of causing swapping
> (which noone is reproducing anyway) it HAS FILLED MEMORY and swap-prefetch
> hasn't any memory to prefetch into -- updatedb itself doesn't use any
> significant memory.

Check the attitude at the door then re-read what I actually said:
> > Updatedb or another process that uses the FS heavily runs on a users
> > 256MB P3-800 (when it is idle) and the VFS caches grow, causing memory
> > pressure that causes other applications to be swapped to disk. In the
> > morning the user has to wait for the system to swap those applications
> > back in.

I never said that it was the *program* itself - or *any* specific program (I
used "Updatedb" because it has been the big name in the discussion) - doing
the filling of memory. I actually said that the problem is that the kernel's
caches - VFS and others - will grow *WITHOUT* *LIMIT*, filling all available
memory.

Swap prefetch on its own will not alleviate *all* of the problem, but it
appears to fix enough of it that the problem doesn't seem to bother people
anymore. (As I noted later on there are things that can be changes that would
also fix things. Those changes, however, are quite tricky and involve changes
to the page faulting mechanism, the way the various caches work and a number
of other things)

In light of the fact that swap prefetch appears to solve the problem for the
people that have been vocal about it, and because it is a less intrusive
change than the other potential solutions, I'd like to know why all the
complaints and arguments against it come down to "Its treating the symptom".

I mean it - because I fail to see how it isn't getting at the root of the
problem - which is, pretty much, that Swap has classically been and, in the
case of most modern systems, still is damned slow. By prefetching those pages
that have most recently been evicted the problem of "slow swap" is being
directly addressed.

You want to know what causes the problem? The current design of the caches.
They will extend without much limit, to the point of actually pushing pages
to disk so they can grow even more.

> Here's swap-prefetch's author saying the same:
>
> http://lkml.org/lkml/2007/2/9/112
>
> | It can't help the updatedb scenario. Updatedb leaves the ram full and
> | swap prefetch wants to cost as little as possible so it will never
> | move anything out of ram in preference for the pages it wants to swap
> | back in.
>
> Now please finally either understand this, or tell us how we're wrong.
>
> Rene.

I already did. You completely ignored it because I happened to use the magic
words "updatedb" and "swap prefetch".

Did I ever say it was about "updatedb" in particular? You've got the statement
in the part of my post that you quoted. Nope, appears that I used the name as
a specific example - and one that has been used previously in the thread. Now
drop the damned attitude and start using your brain. Okay?

DRH

--
Dialup is like pissing through a pipette. Slow and excruciatingly painful.
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