[Dovecot] load increase after upgrade to 2.0.8

Mark Moseley moseleymark at gmail.com
Thu Dec 9 21:58:51 EET 2010

On Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 11:13 AM, Ralf Hildebrandt
<Ralf.Hildebrandt at charite.de> wrote:
> * Mark Moseley <moseleymark at gmail.com>:
>> > We're on 2.6.32 and the load only goes up when I change dovecot (not
>> > when I change the kernel, which I didn't do so far)
>> If you at some point upgrade to >2.6.35, I'd be interested to hear if
>> the load skyrockets on you.
> You mean even more? I'm still hoping it would decrease at some point :)
> I updated to 2.6.32-27-generic-pae today. I wonder what happens.
>> I also get the impression that the load average calculation in these
>> recent kernels is 'touchier' than in pre-2.6.35. Even with similar CPU
>> and I/O utilization, the load average on a >2.6.35 both is much higher
>> than pre- and it also seems to react more quickly; more jitter I guess.
>> That's based on nothing scientific though.
> Interesting.

Interesting, and a major PITA. If I had more time, I'd go back and
iterate through each kernel leading up to 2.6.35 to see where things
start to go downhill. You'd like to think each kernel version would
make things just a little bit faster (or at least, nothing worse than
the same). Though if it really is just more jittery and is showing
higher loads but not actually working any harder than an older kernel,
then it's just my perception only.

>> Upping the client_limit actually results in less processes, since a
>> single process can service up to #client_limit connections. When I
>> bumped up the client_limit for imap, my context switches plummeted.
> Which setting are you using now?

At the moment, I'm using client_limit=5 for imap, but I keep playing
with it. I have a feeling that's too high though. If I had faster cpus
and more memory on these boxes, it wouldn't be so painful to put it
back to 1.

>> Though as Timo pointed out on another thread the other day when I was
>> asking about this, when that proc blocks on I/O, it's blocking all the
>> connections that the process is servicing.Timo, correct me if I'm
>> wildly off here -- I didn't even know this existed before a week or
>> two ago. So you can then end up creating a bottleneck, thus why I've
>> been playing with finding a sweet spot for imap.
> Blocking on /proc? Never heard that before.

I was just being lazy. I meant 'process' :)   So, if I'm understanding
it correctly, assume you've got client_limit=2 and you've got
connection A and connection B serviced by a single process. If A does
a file operation that blocks, then B is effectively blocked too. So I
imagine if you get enough I/O backlog, you can create a downward
spiral where you can't service the connections faster than they're
coming in and you top out at the #process_limit. Which, btw, I set to
300 for imap with client_limit=5.

>> I figure that enough of a process's imap connections must be sitting in
>> IDLE at any given moment, so setting client_limit to like 4 or 5 isn't
>> too bad. Though it's not impossible that by putting multiple
>> connections on a single process, I'm actually throttiling the system,
>> resulting in fewer context switches (though I'd imagine bottlenecked
>> procs would be blocked on I/O and do a lot of volcs's).

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