[clug] Out of Memory with large page cache

Ian Munsie darkstarsword at gmail.com
Fri Dec 18 06:00:42 MST 2009

I had an unusual experience on my eee netbook earlier today. The
kernel OOM killer was activated on a low memory condition and killed
firefox (which was using around 90MB) and some of my window manager

The unusual thing about this was that around 280MB of RAM was being
used as cache at the time - I was under the assumption that page cache
would automatically be freed by the kernel as memory becomes tight but
well before the OOM killer is triggered.

The machine has 512MB of RAM total and I am not using swap space. It's
running Debian kernel 2.6.26-2-686.

Can anyone provide suggestions as to why the cache might not be freed
automatically or pointers as to where I might poke around to find more
info on cache usage?


On the day *I* go to work for Microsoft, faint oinking sounds will be
heard from far overhead, the moon will not merely turn blue but
develop polkadots, and hell will freeze over so solid the brimstone
will go superconductive.
     -- Eric S. Raymond, 2005
Please avoid sending me Word or PowerPoint attachments.
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