Unable to start new processes

Cameron Hutchison lists at xdna.net
Tue Aug 24 05:13:29 UTC 2010

Chris MacDonald <chris at fourthandvine.com> writes:

>From what I understand on the remote side of things, you can no longer
>get any useful information from the machine. Every command the user
>types in returns immediately to a new bash prompt and as a result,
>issuing the 'reboot' command does nothing, as if it can no longer
>start any new processes. 
>The problem manifests itself periodically, I can't seem to establish a
>pattern to it, but it happens to all of them eventually. If I don't
>get someone to power-cycle the downed units, inside of two or three
>days the majority (if not all) are unresponsive. I really have no idea
>what the problem is here, nor how I might go about troubleshooting it
>so I'm open to suggestions as to how to proceed.

It sounds to me that you may be running out of memory, although I'd
expect to see an error message from the shell saying it could not fork
or exec.

If some process does have a memory leak, you may be able to track it by
regularly getting a full process listing (say twice a day) and watching
the VSS and RSS of your processes. Also run free(1) periodically and see
if available memory is falling, and if the problem starts occur shortly
after low memory.

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