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SubjectRe: Improving OOM killer
On Wed, 3 Feb 2010, Lubos Lunak wrote:

> Given that the badness() proposal I see in your another mail uses
> get_mm_rss(), I take it that you've meanwhile changed your mind on the VmSize
> vs VmRSS argument and considered that argument irrelevant now.

The argument was never to never factor rss into the heuristic, the
argument was to prevent the loss of functionality of oom_adj and being
able to define memory leakers from userspace. With my proposal, I believe
the new semantics of oom_adj are even clearer than before and allow users
to either discount or bias a task with a quantity that they are familiar
with: memory.

My rough draft was written in a mail editor, so it's completely untested
and even has a couple of flaws: we need to discount free hugetlb memory
from allowed nodes, we need to intersect the passed nodemask with
current's cpuset, etc.

> I will comment
> only on the suggested use of oom_adj on the desktop here. And actually I hope
> that if something reasonably similar to your badness() proposal replaces the
> current one it will make any use of oom_adj not needed on the desktop in the
> usual case, so this may be irrelevant as well.

If you define "on the desktop" performance of the oom killer merely as
protecting a windows environment, then it should be helpful. I'd still
recommend using OOM_DISABLE for those tasks, though, because I agree that
for users in that environment, KDE getting oom killed is just not a viable

> > The kernel cannot possibly know what you consider a "vital" process, for
> > that understanding you need to tell it using the very powerful
> > /proc/pid/oom_adj tunable. I suspect if you were to product all of
> > kdeinit's children by patching it to be OOM_DISABLE so that all threads it
> > forks will inherit that value you'd actually see much improved behavior.
> No. Almost everything in KDE is spawned by kdeinit, so everything would get
> the adjustment, which means nothing would in practice get the adjustment.

It depends on whether you change the oom_adj of children that you no
longer want to protect which have been forked from kdeinit.

> > I'd also encourage you to talk to the KDE developers to ensure that proper
> > precautions are taken to protect it in such conditions since people who
> > use such desktop environments typically don't want them to be sacrificed
> > for memory.
> I am a KDE developer, it's written in my signature. And I've already talked
> enough to the KDE developer who has done the oom_adj code that's already
> there, as that's also me. I don't know kernel internals, but that doesn't
> mean I'm completely clueless about the topic of the discussion I've started.

Then I'd recommend that you protect those tasks with OOM_DISABLE,
otherwise they will always be candidates for oom kill; the only way to
explicitly prevent that is by changing oom_adj or moving it to its own
memory controller cgroup. A kernel oom heursitic that is implemented for
a wide variety of platforms, including desktops, servers, and embedded
devices, will never identify KDE as a vital task that cannot possibly be
killed unless you tell the kernel it has that priority. Whether you
choose to use that power or not is up to the KDE team.

> 1) I think you missed that I said that every KDE application with the current
> algorithm can be potentially a contender for selection, and I provided
> numbers to demonstrate that in a selected case. Just because such application
> is not vital does not mean it's good for it to get killed instead of an
> obvious offender.

This is exaggerating the point quite a bit, I don't think every single KDE
thread is going to have a badness() score that is higher than all other
system tasks all the time. I think that there are the likely candidates
that you've identified (kdeinit, ksmserver, etc) that are much more prone
to high badness() scores given their total_vm size and the number of
children they fork, but I don't think this is representative of every KDE

> 2) You probably do not realize the complexity involved in using oom_adj in a
> desktop. Even when doing that manually I would have some difficulty finding
> the right setup for my own desktop use. It'd be probably virtually impossible
> to write code that would do it at least somewhat right with all the widely
> differing various desktop setups that dynamically change.

Used in combination with /proc/pid/oom_score, it gives you a pretty good
snapshot of how oom killer priorities look at any moment in time. In your
particular use case, however, you seem to be arguing from a perspective of
only protecting certain tasks that you've identified from being oom killed
for desktop environments, namely KDE. For that, there is no confusion to
be had: use OOM_DISABLE. For server environments that I'm also concerned
about, the oom_adj range is much more important to define a killing
priority when used in combination with cpusets.

> 3) oom_adj is ultimately just a kludge to handle special cases where the
> heuristic doesn't get it right for whatever strange reason. But even you
> yourself in another mail presented a heuristic that I believe would make any
> use of oom_adj on the desktop unnecessary in the usual cases. The usual
> desktop is not a special case.

The kernel will _always_ need user input into which tasks it believes to
be vital. For you, that's KDE. For me, that's one of our job schedulers.

> > The heuristics are always well debated in this forum and there's little
> > chance that we'll ever settle on a single formula that works for all
> > possible use cases. That makes oom_adj even more vital to the overall
> > efficiency of the oom killer, I really hope you start to use it to your
> > advantage.
> I really hope your latest badness() heuristics proposal allows us to dump
> even the oom_adj use we already have.

For your environment, I hope the same. In production servers we'll still
need the ability to tune /proc/pid/oom_adj to define memory leakers and
tasks using far more memory than expected, so perhaps my rough draft can
be a launching pad into a positive discussion about the future of the
heuristic based on consensus and input from all impacted parties.

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