Fourth Floor Studio

March 6, 2007

The case of the leaking memory

Filed under: administration, linux — chris @ 5:32 pm

I’ve been having memory issues on my server/cruncher box [1]: available RAM seems to disappear. At first I thought it might be the well-known Firefox memory leaks, so I did a little (unconscious) experiment. I rebooted yesterday and never fired up FF. Today, I notice:

bobo% free -m
                        total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:                     3943       3673        270          0        161       3253
-/+ buffers/cache:                   257       3686
Swap:                    6000        110       5889

Something appears to be caching to buggery. It turns out to be the kernel. The trick here is to interpret the second line, which tells you what programs “see” when asking for memory. In this case, it’s 3686M free, so all is well. A little scary there for a second…

I shall have to be a little more sanguine next time.

[1] dual amd64, 4G RAM, Ubuntu Dapper clean install.

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