Bug 18909 - 7.0 not using memory of 900 MB.
7.0 not using memory of 900 MB.
Product: Red Hat Linux
Classification: Retired
Component: kernel (Show other bugs)
i686 Linux
medium Severity medium
: ---
: ---
Assigned To: Arjan van de Ven
Brock Organ
Depends On:
  Show dependency treegraph
Reported: 2000-10-11 15:02 EDT by Draddog
Modified: 2007-04-18 12:29 EDT (History)
1 user (show)

See Also:
Fixed In Version:
Doc Type: Bug Fix
Doc Text:
Story Points: ---
Clone Of:
Last Closed: 2001-02-09 16:09:40 EST
Type: ---
Regression: ---
Mount Type: ---
Documentation: ---
Verified Versions:
Category: ---
oVirt Team: ---
RHEL 7.3 requirements from Atomic Host:
Cloudforms Team: ---

Attachments (Terms of Use)

  None (edit)
Description Draddog 2000-10-11 15:02:15 EDT
I have RedHat 7.0 professional server installed on two new servers.  Both servers have 1024 MB of RAM (4 x 256 MB sticks).  On previous 
versions of Red Hat (specifically 6.2) free showed the total Mem: as 1036192.  free on Red 7.0 shows a total of 906360.  top does as well.  
A cat of /proc/meminfo shows:
        total:    used:    free:  shared: buffers:  cached:
Mem:  928112640 356429824 571682816 32776192 270729216 33497088
Swap: 1085652992        0 1085652992
MemTotal:    906360 kB
MemFree:     558284 kB
MemShared:    32008 kB
Buffers:     264384 kB
Cached:       32712 kB
BigTotal:         0 kB
BigFree:          0 kB
SwapTotal:  1060208 kB
SwapFree:   1060208 kB

Any ideas?
Kevin Goddard
Comment 1 Arjan van de Ven 2000-10-12 02:40:07 EDT
The 2.2.x kernels have an option to support either 1Gb or 2Gb of memory. 1Gb
is actually about 900 Mb (the number you are seeing) so recompiling the kernel 
with support for 2Gb of ram would solve your problem. It would make sense for
Red Hat to ship a default enterprise kernel with this option enabled though.
Comment 2 Alan Cox 2000-10-14 13:50:18 EDT
I believe the enterprise kernel has the 4Gig support from Andrea included.  My
guess is that this is not the kernel being run. In which case the installer made
a possibly poor choice.
Comment 3 ctolley 2001-01-21 21:10:32 EST
I am experiencing this same problem on a system with 2GB of RAM.  It is running 
the enterprise kernel.  When this system starts to tap into the 2nd GB, it 
locks solid.  I, too, thought that the enterprise kernel would address more 
than 1GB of RAM without doing anything special.  I even added:


to my lilo.conf, re-ran lilo, rebooted, and still no change.  Here are some 

Linux daa20493wwx001.datareturn.com 2.2.16-22enterprise #1 SMP Tue Aug 22 
16:29:32 EDT 2000 i686 unknown

[root@daa20593wwx001 /root]# free -t
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:       2074272    1031256    1043016    1009428     651648     169304
-/+ buffers/cache:     210304    1863968
Swap:      1052592        836    1051756
Total:     3126864    1032092    2094772

[root@daa20593wwx001 /root]# ls -al /proc/kcore 
-r--------    1 root     root     939528192 Jan 21 18:59 /proc/kcore

As you can see, free reports all 2GB of RAM, but kcore only maps out the 1st 
GB.  I did tinker with the kernel configs and rebuilt all the kernel packages 
with the 2GB option enabled, and WAS able to physically address the 2nd GB of 
RAM, but the system this is on can use upwards of 4GB and, since I don't have a 
4GB kernel config option, I am left wondering if I can make it see beyond the 
2GB limit.  I will aquire an additional 2 GB of RAM, test this again and post 
more info.

My server hardware is:

Compaq Proliant 5500R
Dual PIII Xeon 500
Compaq 3200 RAID (which I reported a problem on during install, and haven't 
heard anything about it since: http://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/show_bug.cgi?
id=21780 )
Comment 4 ctolley 2001-01-21 21:20:04 EST
Saw that you posted this, so I thought I'd add it:

[root@daa20593wwx001 /root]# cat /proc/meminfo 
        total:    used:    free:  shared: buffers:  cached:
Mem:  2124054528 1076674560 1047379968 1072283648 617181184 240381952
Swap: 1077854208   856064 1076998144
MemTotal:   2074272 kB
MemFree:    1022832 kB
MemShared:  1047152 kB
Buffers:     602716 kB
Cached:      234748 kB
BigTotal:   1179644 kB
BigFree:    1019980 kB
SwapTotal:  1052592 kB
SwapFree:   1051756 kB
Comment 5 ctolley 2001-02-05 13:34:16 EST
I finally managed to track down the additional 2GB of RAM, but I couldn't 
retain the server for extended testing.  We recompiled the kernel for 2GB.  We 
found out that we had to use the i386 compiled SMP kernel with the i686 
compiled Enterprise kernel.  I found it strange that I HAD to install both the 
Enterprise kernel and the SMP kernels.  If I didn't install the SMP kernel and 
tried to only use the Enterprise kernel, I would get kernel panics, and if we 
attempted to use the i686 compiled version of the SMP kernel, it would hang on 
reading the initrd image.

After successfully having the system see and physically map 2GB, we decided to 
test it at the mythical 4GB point...and found that it is truly mythical.  Here 
are the outputs of procinfo along with the size of /proc/kcore.

Linux 2.2.16-22enterprise (root@kernel) (gcc egcs-2.91.66) #1 2CPU [kernel]

Memory:      Total        Used        Free      Shared     Buffers      Cached
Mem:       3988340       31868     3956472        8436        6728       11988
Swap:       526296           0      526296

Bootup: Thu Feb  1 14:57:11 2001    Load average: 0.15 0.14 0.06 1/20 490

user  :       0:00:01.64   0.6%  page in :    10950  disk 1:     2554r     918w
nice  :       0:00:00.00   0.0%  page out:     2557
system:       0:00:17.77   6.3%  swap in :        1
idle  :       0:04:22.81  93.2%  swap out:        0
uptime:       0:02:20.96         context :     9855

irq  0:     14111 timer                 irq  8:         1 rtc                  
irq  1:       220 keyboard              irq  9:        33 ncr53c8xx            
irq  2:         0 cascade [4]           irq 10:        30 ncr53c8xx            
irq  3:         3                       irq 11:      3453 ida0                 
irq  4:         3                       irq 13:         1 fpu                  
irq  5:       200 eth0                  irq 14:        14 ide0                 
irq  6:         3                      

As you can see, procinfo (and I'm sure that /proc/meminfo would have similar 
stats), at least _sees_ all 4GB of RAM.  However, only 2GB are physcally 
mapped, as you can see by listing the size of /proc/kcore:

-r--------    1 root     root     2013270016 Feb  1 14:59 /proc/kcore

I had to return the hardware I was testing against, so I didn't have an 
oportunity to see of the 2.4 kernel had the same limitations.

If I don't hear from anyone regarding the status on this, I'll go ahead and 
open it as a separate bug report.
Comment 6 Arjan van de Ven 2001-02-09 10:02:13 EST
For >2GB of memory, the kernel will see only 2Gb, and the rest is "anonymous"
memory. It's still used, just not by the kernel directly.
Comment 7 Arjan van de Ven 2001-02-09 10:04:57 EST
For >2GB of memory, the kernel will see only 2Gb, and the rest is "anonymous"
memory. It's still used, just not by the kernel directly.
Comment 8 ctolley 2001-02-09 15:28:04 EST
If this memory isn't mapped by the kernel, I don't understand how processes can 
operate in it.  We've tested server performance with a 1GB compiled kernel 
under 2GB, and when we approached the threshold of the beginning of the 2GB 
point, the server started spitting back Virtual Memory errors and promptly 

Asside from showing the memory present in /proc/meminfo, having more memory 
than the kernel will physically address is like cutting a room in half with a 
seamless glass wall.  You can see all the space of the room on both sides of 
the glass, but you can't use all of it.

This idea of "anonymous" doesn't make any sense.  What processes can use this 
memory space?  It certainly isn't anything that we need.  I couldn't get Apache 
to utilize it.  I still hit the glass ceiling at the 1GB barrier.  When we 
compiled for 2GB and installed a total of 4GB, we had a 2GB glass 
ceiling.  /proc/meminfo happily reported 4GB of RAM, but nothing running on the 
server could utilize it.

Does the 2.4 kernel have these same limitations?  Are we all frozen at the 2GB 
point?  Are there config options in the kernel that I can tell it I have 4GB?  
If this "anonymous" memory is really used, can you please list 
processes/services/programs that can utilize it?
Comment 9 Arjan van de Ven 2001-02-09 15:37:38 EST
Shared memory is one example of it. The kernel doesn't map it in the kernel
virtual memory table, put processes can and do.
The Red Hat 2.2 kernels have the "highmem" patches originally done by SAP.
They allow the use of the "high" (>2Gb, upto 4Gb) memory for some purposes, but
the kernel cannot see it directly. 

The 2.4.0 kernel can use upto 64Gb of RAM on x86 hardware, but even there the 
kernel can only address 1 or 2 Gb directly, there rest is done indirectly.
In the 2.4 kernel, the memory > 2Gb is also used for diskcache and the like.

Per process limitations are still 3Gb, but several processes together can
use more.
Comment 10 ctolley 2001-02-09 15:55:06 EST
If that is true, then in theory, processes like Apache and other daemons can 
utilize the higher memory via shared pools, but doing things like creating a 
2GB RAMdrive on a 4GB server (which we tried to do for testing) will fail, 
because it tries to directly attach itself to the mapped RAM.  Am I on the 
right track with this?  It didn't look like Apache was really using all the 
available RAM...only the mapped RAM.

"Out of the box," without recompiling, how much RAM will the 2.2.16enterprise 
kernel address via shared memory pools?  What can I look for to determine if a 
process is tapping into the memory that surpasses the mapped portion?

Comment 11 Arjan van de Ven 2001-02-09 16:09:34 EST
re part1: Yes, Apache and other daemons can use the higher memory.
Remember that most malloc() uses in .c are actually implemented using this
"shared" (or "anonymous" in kernel terms) memory and will benifit from your RAM.

Your ramdisk cannot use it because the kernel can see only the 2Gb (depending on
what you chose in the config) and a ramdisk is kernel memory, not "anonymous" or
"shared userspace" memory.

Out of the box, the enterprise kernel supports the 4Gb, with the note that the
upper part of that is "high" memory.
Comment 12 Michael K. Johnson 2001-02-13 16:37:16 EST
I'm closing this as NOTABUG because the code is working as intended.

Note You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.