systemd-oomd issues on desktop

Olivier Tilloy olivier.tilloy at
Fri Jun 10 05:35:33 UTC 2022

On Fri, Jun 10, 2022 at 1:49 AM Steve Langasek <steve.langasek at>

> On Thu, Jun 09, 2022 at 01:00:45PM -0400, Nick Rosbrook wrote:
> > In the reports I refer to above, applications are being killed due to
> > (1). In practice, the SwapUsedLimit might be too easy to reach on
> > Ubuntu, largely because Ubuntu provides just 1GB of swap. Since we
> > follow the suggestion of setting ManagedOOMSwap=kill on the root slice
> > [7], every cgroup is eligible for swap kill. When this condition is
> > met, user applications like browsers are going to be killed first.
> In terms of behavior that we want to see, this last sentence sets off red
> flags for me.  There are times when, due to memory pressure, killing
> processes to reclaim memory is the right answer; and it is likely that the
> process using the most memory on a desktop system is the browser.  But in
> terms of how a modern desktop is used, it's also quite likely that the
> browser is the most important process to the user experience on a desktop.
> (Cf. the Chromebook experience, where the browser effectively *is* the
> desktop.)
> I understand how we've arrived at the situation that browsers are the
> processes likely to be killed first when there's memory pressure; but
> separately from the question of what we should do for systemd-oomd overall,
> are there configuration changes we could make to lower the priority of the
> browser as a candidate for oom killing, and would those be reasonable
> configuration changes to make?

Also note that modern browsers (at least firefox and chrom{e,ium}) have
built-in mechanisms to discard/unload tabs they consider inactive to
reclaim memory, and these mechanisms are enabled by default. See
about:unloads in firefox, and chrome://discards in chromium. So it really
shouldn't be necessary to kill browsers the hard way.

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