Manual Reference Pages - TUNING (7)
- performance tuning under FreeBSD
System Setup - Disklabel, Newfs, Tunefs, Swap
Kernel Config Tuning
Cpu, Memory, Disk, Network
SYSTEM SETUP - DISKLABEL, NEWFS, TUNEFS, SWAP
The swap partition should typically be approximately 2x the size of
for systems with less than 4GB of RAM, or approximately equal to
the size of main memory
if you have more.
Keep in mind future memory
expansion when sizing the swap partition.
Configuring too little swap can lead
to inefficiencies in the VM page scanning code as well as create issues
later on if you add more memory to your machine.
On larger systems
with multiple SCSI disks (or multiple IDE disks operating on different
controllers), configure swap on each drive.
The swap partitions on the drives should be approximately the same size.
The kernel can handle arbitrary sizes but
internal data structures scale to 4 times the largest swap partition.
the swap partitions near the same size will allow the kernel to optimally
stripe swap space across the N disks.
Do not worry about overdoing it a
little, swap space is the saving grace of
and even if you do not normally use much swap, it can give you more time to
recover from a runaway program before being forced to reboot.
It is not a good idea to make one large partition.
each partition has different operational characteristics and separating them
allows the file system to tune itself to those characteristics.
the root and
partitions are read-mostly, with very little writing, while
a lot of reading and writing could occur in
partitioning your system fragmentation introduced in the smaller more
heavily write-loaded partitions will not bleed over into the mostly-read
Properly partitioning your system also allows you to tune
option worthwhile turning on is
"tunefs -n enable /filesystem".
Softupdates drastically improves meta-data performance, mainly file
creation and deletion.
We recommend enabling softupdates on most file systems; however, there
are two limitations to softupdates that you should be aware of when
determining whether to use it on a file system.
First, softupdates guarantees file system consistency in the
case of a crash but could very easily be several seconds (even a minute!)
behind on pending write to the physical disk.
If you crash you may lose more work
Secondly, softupdates delays the freeing of file system
If you have a file system (such as the root file system) which is
close to full, doing a major update of it, e.g.,
can run it out of space and cause the update to fail.
For this reason, softupdates will not be enabled on the root file system
during a typical install.
There is no loss of performance since the root
file system is rarely written to.
A number of run-time
options exist that can help you tune the system.
The most obvious and most dangerous one is
Only use this option in conjunction with
as it is far too dangerous on a normal file system.
A less dangerous and more
option is called
file systems normally update the last-accessed time of a file or
directory whenever it is accessed.
This operation is handled in
with a delayed write and normally does not create a burden on the system.
However, if your system is accessing a huge number of files on a continuing
basis the buffer cache can wind up getting polluted with atime updates,
creating a burden on the system.
For example, if you are running a heavily
loaded web site, or a news server with lots of readers, you might want to
consider turning off atime updates on your larger partitions with this
However, you should not gratuitously turn off atime
For example, the
file system customarily
holds mailboxes, and atime (in combination with mtime) is used to
determine whether a mailbox has new mail.
You might as well leave
atime turned on for mostly read-only partitions such as
This is especially useful for
since some system utilities
use the atime field for reporting.
In larger systems you can stripe partitions from several drives together
to create a much larger overall partition.
Striping can also improve
the performance of a file system by splitting I/O operations across two
or more disks.
utilities may be used to create simple striped file systems.
speaking, striping smaller partitions such as the root and
or essentially read-only partitions such as
is a complete waste of time.
You should only stripe partitions that require serious I/O performance,
or custom partitions used to hold databases and web pages.
Choosing the proper stripe size is also
File systems tend to store meta-data on power-of-2 boundaries
and you usually want to reduce seeking rather than increase seeking.
means you want to use a large off-center stripe size such as 1152 sectors
so sequential I/O does not seek both disks and so meta-data is distributed
across both disks rather than concentrated on a single disk.
you really need to get sophisticated, we recommend using a real hardware
RAID controller from the list of
variables permit system behavior to be monitored and controlled at
Some sysctls simply report on the behavior of the system; others allow
the system behavior to be modified;
some may be set at boot time using
but most will be set via
There are several hundred sysctls in the system, including many that appear
to be candidates for tuning but actually are not.
In this document we will only cover the ones that have the greatest effect
on the system.
sysctl defines the overcommit behaviour of the vm subsystem.
The virtual memory system always does accounting of the swap space
reservation, both total for system and per-user.
are available through sysctl
that gives the total bytes available for swapping, and
that gives number of bytes that may be needed to back all currently
allocated anonymous memory.
Setting bit 0 of the
sysctl causes the virtual memory system to return failure
to the process when allocation of memory causes
Bit 1 of the sysctl enforces
Root is exempt from this limit.
Bit 2 allows to count most of the physical
memory as allocatable, except wired and free reserved pages
loader tunable is used to set a hard limit on the
amount of kernel address space allocated to mapping of pipe buffers.
Use of the mapping allows the kernel to eliminate a copy of the
data from writer address space into the kernel, directly copying
the content of mapped buffer to the reader.
Increasing this value to a higher setting, such as 25165824 might
improve performance on systems where space for mapping pipe buffers
is quickly exhausted.
This exhaustion is not fatal; however, and it will only cause pipes
to fall back to using double-copy.
sysctl defaults to 0 (off) and may be set to 0 (off) or 1 (on).
this parameter to 1 will cause all System V shared memory segments to be
mapped to unpageable physical RAM.
This feature only has an effect if you
are either (A) mapping small amounts of shared memory across many (hundreds)
of processes, or (B) mapping large amounts of shared memory across any
number of processes.
This feature allows the kernel to remove a great deal
of internal memory management page-tracking overhead at the cost of wiring
the shared memory into core, making it unswappable.
sysctl defaults to 1 (on).
This parameter controls how directories are cached
by the system.
Most directories are small and use but a single fragment
(typically 2K) in the file system and even less (typically 512 bytes) in
the buffer cache.
However, when operating in the default mode the buffer
cache will only cache a fixed number of directories even if you have a huge
amount of memory.
Turning on this sysctl allows the buffer cache to use
the VM Page Cache to cache the directories.
The advantage is that all of
memory is now available for caching directories.
The disadvantage is that
the minimum in-core memory used to cache a directory is the physical page
size (typically 4K) rather than 512 bytes.
We recommend turning this option off in memory-constrained environments;
however, when on, it will substantially improve the performance of services
that manipulate a large number of files.
Such services can include web caches, large mail systems, and news systems.
Turning on this option will generally not reduce performance even with the
wasted memory but you should experiment to find out.
sysctl defaults to 1 (on).
This tells the file system to issue media
writes as full clusters are collected, which typically occurs when writing
large sequential files.
The idea is to avoid saturating the buffer
cache with dirty buffers when it would not benefit I/O performance.
this may stall processes and under certain circumstances you may wish to turn
sysctl determines how much outstanding write I/O may be queued to
disk controllers system-wide at any given time.
It is used by the UFS file system.
The default is self-tuned and
usually sufficient but on machines with advanced controllers and lots
of disks this may be tuned up to match what the controllers buffer.
Configuring this setting to match tagged queuing capabilities of
controllers or drives with average IO size used in production works
best (for example: 16 MiB will use 128 tags with IO requests of 128 KiB).
Note that setting too high a value
(exceeding the buffer caches write threshold) can lead to extremely
bad clustering performance.
Do not set this value arbitrarily high!
Higher write queuing values may also add latency to reads occurring at
the same time.
sysctl governs VFS read-ahead and is expressed as the number of blocks
to pre-read if the heuristics algorithm decides that the reads are
It is used by the UFS, ext2fs and msdosfs file systems.
With the default UFS block size of 32 KiB, a setting of 64 will allow
speculatively reading up to 2 MiB.
This setting may be increased to get around disk I/O latencies, especially
where these latencies are large such as in virtual machine emulated
It may be tuned down in specific cases where the I/O load is such that
read-ahead adversely affects performance or where system memory is really
sysctl defines how large VFS namecache may grow.
The number of currently allocated entries in namecache is provided by
sysctl and the condition
debug.numcache < kern.maxvnodes * vfs.ncsizefactor
is adhered to.
sysctl defines how many negative entries VFS namecache is allowed to create.
The number of currently allocated negative entries is provided by
sysctl and the condition
vfs.ncnegfactor * debug.numneg < debug.numcache
is adhered to.
There are various other buffer-cache and VM page cache related sysctls.
We do not recommend modifying these values.
.Fx 4.3 ,
the VM system does an extremely good job tuning itself.
sysctls are of particular interest if you are running network intensive
They control the amount of send and receive buffer space
allowed for any given TCP connection.
The default sending buffer is 32K; the default receiving buffer
You can often
improve bandwidth utilization by increasing the default at the cost of
eating up more kernel memory for each connection.
We do not recommend
increasing the defaults if you are serving hundreds or thousands of
simultaneous connections because it is possible to quickly run the system
out of memory due to stalled connections building up.
But if you need
high bandwidth over a fewer number of connections, especially if you have
gigabit Ethernet, increasing these defaults can make a huge difference.
You can adjust the buffer size for incoming and outgoing data separately.
For example, if your machine is primarily doing web serving you may want
to decrease the recvspace in order to be able to increase the
sendspace without eating too much kernel memory.
Note that the routing table (see
can be used to introduce route-specific send and receive buffer size
As an additional management tool you can use pipes in your
firewall rules (see
to limit the bandwidth going to or from particular IP blocks or ports.
For example, if you have a T1 you might want to limit your web traffic
to 70% of the T1s bandwidth in order to leave the remainder available
for mail and interactive use.
Normally a heavily loaded web server
will not introduce significant latencies into other services even if
the network link is maxed out, but enforcing a limit can smooth things
out and lead to longer term stability.
Many people also enforce artificial
bandwidth limitations in order to ensure that they are not charged for
using too much bandwidth.
Setting the send or receive TCP buffer to values larger than 65535 will result
in a marginal performance improvement unless both hosts support the window
scaling extension of the TCP protocol, which is controlled by the
These extensions should be enabled and the TCP buffer size should be set
to a value larger than 65536 in order to obtain good performance from
certain types of network links; specifically, gigabit WAN links and
high-latency satellite links.
RFC1323 support is enabled by default.
sysctl determines whether or not the TCP implementation should attempt
to detect dead TCP connections by intermittently delivering
on the connection.
By default, this is enabled for all applications; by setting this
sysctl to 0, only applications that specifically request keepalives
will use them.
In most environments, TCP keepalives will improve the management of
system state by expiring dead TCP connections, particularly for
systems serving dialup users who may not always terminate individual
TCP connections before disconnecting from the network.
However, in some environments, temporary network outages may be
incorrectly identified as dead sessions, resulting in unexpectedly
terminated TCP connections.
In such environments, setting the sysctl to 0 may reduce the occurrence of
TCP session disconnections.
TCP feature is largely misunderstood.
Historically speaking, this feature
was designed to allow the acknowledgement to transmitted data to be returned
along with the response.
For example, when you type over a remote shell,
the acknowledgement to the character you send can be returned along with the
data representing the echo of the character.
With delayed acks turned off,
the acknowledgement may be sent in its own packet, before the remote service
has a chance to echo the data it just received.
This same concept also
applies to any interactive protocol (e.g., SMTP, WWW, POP3), and can cut the
number of tiny packets flowing across the network in half.
delayed ACK implementation also follows the TCP protocol rule that
at least every other packet be acknowledged even if the standard 100ms
timeout has not yet passed.
Normally the worst a delayed ACK can do is
slightly delay the teardown of a connection, or slightly delay the ramp-up
of a slow-start TCP connection.
While we are not sure we believe that
the several FAQs related to packages such as SAMBA and SQUID which advise
turning off delayed acks may be referring to the slow-start issue.
it would be more beneficial to increase the slow-start flightsize via
sysctl rather than disable delayed acks.
sysctls control the port number ranges automatically bound to TCP and UDP
There are three ranges: a low range, a default range, and a
high range, selectable via the
network programs use the default range which is controlled by
which default to 49152 and 65535, respectively.
Bound port ranges are
used for outgoing connections, and it is possible to run the system out
of ports under certain circumstances.
This most commonly occurs when you are
running a heavily loaded web proxy.
The port range is not an issue
when running a server which handles mainly incoming connections, such as a
normal web server, or has a limited number of outgoing connections, such
as a mail relay.
For situations where you may run out of ports,
we recommend decreasing
A range of 10000 to 30000 ports may be reasonable.
You should also consider firewall effects when changing the port range.
may block large ranges of ports (usually low-numbered ports) and expect systems
to use higher ranges of ports for outgoing connections.
is set at the maximum allowable port number.
sysctl limits the size of the listen queue for accepting new TCP connections.
The default value of 128 is typically too low for robust handling of new
connections in a heavily loaded web server environment.
For such environments,
we recommend increasing this value to 1024 or higher.
The service daemon
may itself limit the listen queue size (e.g.,
apache) but will
often have a directive in its configuration file to adjust the queue size up.
Larger listen queues also do a better job of fending off denial of service
sysctl determines how many open files the system supports.
The default is
typically a few thousand but you may need to bump this up to ten or twenty
thousand if you are running databases or large descriptor-heavy daemons.
sysctl may be interrogated to determine the current number of open files
on the system.
sysctl is useful in large multi-user systems where you have lots of users
entering and leaving the system and lots of idle processes.
tend to generate a great deal of continuous pressure on free memory reserves.
Turning this feature on and adjusting the swapout hysteresis (in idle
allows you to depress the priority of pages associated with idle processes
more quickly then the normal pageout algorithm.
This gives a helping hand
to the pageout daemon.
Do not turn this option on unless you need it,
because the tradeoff you are making is to essentially pre-page memory sooner
rather than later, eating more swap and disk bandwidth.
In a small system
this option will have a detrimental effect but in a large system that is
already doing moderate paging this option allows the VM system to stage
whole processes into and out of memory more easily.
Some aspects of the system behavior may not be tunable at runtime because
memory allocations they perform must occur early in the boot process.
To change loader tunables, you must set their values in
and reboot the system.
controls the scaling of a number of static system tables, including defaults
for the maximum number of open files, sizing of network memory resources, etc.
.Fx 4.5 ,
is automatically sized at boot based on the amount of memory available in
the system, and may be determined at run-time by inspecting the value of the
Some sites will require larger or smaller values of
and may set it as a loader tunable; values of 64, 128, and 256 are not
We do not recommend going above 256 unless you need a huge number
of file descriptors; many of the tunable values set to their defaults by
may be individually overridden at boot-time or run-time as described
elsewhere in this document.
Systems older than
must set this value via the kernel
tunables set the default soft limits for process data and stack size
Processes may increase these up to the hard limits by calling
tunables set the hard limits for process data, stack, and text size
respectively; processes may not exceed these limits.
tunable controls how much the stack segment will grow when a process
needs to allocate more stack.
may be adjusted to increase the number of network mbufs the system is
willing to allocate.
Each cluster represents approximately 2K of memory,
so a value of 1024 represents 2M of kernel memory reserved for network
You can do a simple calculation to figure out how many you need.
If you have a web server which maxes out at 1000 simultaneous connections,
and each connection eats a 16K receive and 16K send buffer, you need
approximately 32MB worth of network buffers to deal with it.
A good rule of
thumb is to multiply by 2, so 32MBx2 = 64MB/2K = 32768.
So for this case
you would want to set
We recommend values between
1024 and 4096 for machines with moderates amount of memory, and between 4096
and 32768 for machines with greater amounts of memory.
Under no circumstances
should you specify an arbitrarily high value for this parameter, it could
lead to a boot-time crash.
may be used to observe network cluster use.
Older versions of
do not have this tunable and require that the
be set instead.
More and more programs are using the
system call to transmit files over the network.
sysctl controls the number of file system buffers
is allowed to use to perform its work.
This parameter nominally scales
so you should not need to modify this parameter except under extreme
section in the
manual page for details.
KERNEL CONFIG TUNING
There are a number of kernel options that you may have to fiddle with in
a large-scale system.
In order to change these options you need to be
able to compile a new kernel from source.
manual page and the handbook are good starting points for learning how to
Generally the first thing you do when creating your own custom
kernel is to strip out all the drivers and services you do not use.
Removing things like
and drivers you do not have will reduce the size of your kernel, sometimes
by a megabyte or more, leaving more memory available for applications.
may be used to reduce system boot times.
The defaults are fairly high and
can be responsible for 5+ seconds of delay in the boot process.
to something below 5 seconds could work (especially with modern drives).
There are a number of
options that can be commented out.
If you only want the kernel to run
on a Pentium class CPU, you can easily remove
but only remove
if you are sure your CPU is being recognized as a Pentium II or better.
Some clones may be recognized as a Pentium or even a 486 and not be able
to boot without those options.
If it works, great!
The operating system
will be able to better use higher-end CPU features for MMU, task switching,
timebase, and even device operations.
Additionally, higher-end CPUs support
4MB MMU pages, which the kernel uses to map the kernel itself into memory,
increasing its efficiency under heavy syscall loads.
CPU, MEMORY, DISK, NETWORK
The type of tuning you do depends heavily on where your system begins to
bottleneck as load increases.
If your system runs out of CPU (idle times
are perpetually 0%) then you need to consider upgrading the CPU
or perhaps you need to revisit the
programs that are causing the load and try to optimize them.
If your system
is paging to swap a lot you need to consider adding more memory.
system is saturating the disk you typically see high CPU idle times and
total disk saturation.
can be used to monitor this.
There are many solutions to saturated disks:
increasing memory for caching, mirroring disks, distributing operations across
several machines, and so forth.
If disk performance is an issue and you
are using IDE drives, switching to SCSI can help a great deal.
IDE drives compare with SCSI in raw sequential bandwidth, the moment you
start seeking around the disk SCSI drives usually win.
Finally, you might run out of network suds.
Optimize the network path
as much as possible.
For example, in
we describe a firewall protecting internal hosts with a topology where
the externally visible hosts are not routed through it.
Use 1000BaseT rather
than 100BaseT, depending on your needs.
Most bottlenecks occur at the WAN link (e.g.,
modem, T1, DSL, whatever).
If expanding the link is not an option it may be possible to use the
feature to implement peak shaving or other forms of traffic shaping to
prevent the overloaded service (such as web services) from affecting other
services (such as email), or vice versa.
In home installations this could
be used to give interactive traffic (your browser,
over services you export from your box (web services, email).
manual page was originally written by
.An Matthew Dillon
and first appeared
.Fx 4.3 ,
The manual page was greatly modified by
.An Eitan Adler Aq eadler@FreeBSD.org
Visit the GSP FreeBSD Man Page Interface.
Output converted with manServer 1.07.