Capping a Solaris processes memory

Solaris 10 introduced numerous capabilities, including the ability to use memory caps to limit the amount of memory available to a project. Memory caps are configured through the project(4) facility, and use the rcap.max-rss resource control to limit the amount of memory that a project can consume. Memory caps are enforced by the rcapd daemon, which is a userland process that periodically checks process memory usage, and takes action when a process has exceeded it’s alloted amount of memory. To use memory caps on a server or inside a zone, the rcapadm utility needs to be run with the “-E” (enable memory caps) option to enable memory caps:

$ rcapadm -E

In addition to starting rcapd, the capadm utility will enable the SMF services to start rcapd when the system boots. To see if memory caps are enabled on a system, the rcapadm utility can be run without any arguments:

$ rcapadm

state: enabled
memory cap enforcement threshold: 0%
process scan rate (sec): 15
reconfiguration rate (sec): 60
report rate (sec): 5
RSS sampling rate (sec): 5

After memory capping is enabled, the projmod utility can be used to configure memory caps. To configure a 512MB memory cap for all processes that run as the user apache, the projmod utility can be run with the “-K” option, and the rcap.max-rss resource control set to the amount of memory you would like to assign to the project:

$ projmod -s -K rcap.max-rss=512MB user.apache

This will add a new entry similar to the following to the project database, which is stored in the file /etc/project:

$ grep user.apache /etc/project

Once a project is configured, you can enforce a memory cap in two ways (there may be more, but these are the two methods I have come across while reading the RM documentation). The first method uses the newtask utility to start a process in a project that has been configured with memory caps. The following example shows how to start the apache web server in the user.apache project, which was configured above:

$ /usr/bin/newtask -p user.apache /home/apps/apache/httpd/bin/httpd -k start

The second way to enforce a memory cap is to force a user to establish a new login session. If the user has been added to the project database, they will inherit the resource controls that are associated with their user id in /etc/project. To view the project a user is assigned to, the id command can be run with the “-p” option:

$ su - apache
Sun Microsystems Inc. SunOS 5.10 Generic January 2005

$ id -p
uid=103(apache) gid=1(other) projid=100(user.apache)

Once a process is started and associated with a project that has memory caps configured, you can use the rcapstat utility to monitor memory usage, and the paging activity that occurs due to the processes in the project utilizing more memory than has been alloted to them:

$ rcapstat 10

id project nproc vm rss cap at avgat pg avgpg
100 user.apache 15 266M 164M 512M 0K 0K 0K 0K
101 user.mysql 1 59M 11M 256M 0K 0K 0K 0K
id project nproc vm rss cap at avgat pg avgpg
100 user.apache 15 266M 164M 512M 0K 0K 0K 0K
101 user.mysql 1 59M 11M 256M 0K 0K 0K 0K

Memory caps are super useful, but they do have a few issues. The biggest issue is that shared memory is not accounted for properly, so processes that use shared memory can suck up more memory that the amount configured in the memory cap. The second issue is that you can’t use memory caps in the global zone to limit how much memory is used in a local zone. Both of these issues are being worked on by Sun, and hopefully a fix will be out in the coming months.

This article was posted by Matty on 2006-11-14 19:27:00 -0400 -0400