What is the Maximum Java Heap Space for SuSE Linux

This question is related to Java Refuses To Start – Could Not Resrve Enough Space for Object Heap and should be easy enough to figure out. However; my searches haven’t yielded anything useful.

Essentially we have 2 32 bit OS’s (RedHat & SuSE) on different machines with the same hardware. Both use the same JVM both executing the same command line. RedHat works perfectly fine but SuSE reports there isn’t enough Memory.

We just need to know if this is a limitation of the version of SuSE we’re using or if it’s something else.

‘cat /proc/version’ gives us:

Linux version 2.6.5-7.244-bigsmp ([email protected]) (gcc version 3.3.3 (SuSE Linux)) #1 SMP Mon Dec 12 18:32:25 UTC 2005

‘uname -a’ gives us the following on BOTH types of machines:

UTC 2005 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

The JVM memory limit is related the largest free contiguous block available, not the amount of free memory. The limit varies from about 1.4 GB to a bit over 2.0 GB, and depends on where your operating system puts various things in memory. I don’t know the particulars of where Redhat or Suse load stuff into memory, but it could be that suse is mapping some library to an address in the middle of RAM, where Redhat might map it at the end (speculating).

And remember that your actual memory usage in java is more than what you specify for Xmx. The other memory settings also affect the size of your heap (like permgen). So it could also be that the perm space on Suse has a larget default than on Redhat.

Also, depending on the memory allocation profile of your application, you might get away with a smaller heap size and different garbage collecting options. There are some details here (http://java.sun.com/performance/reference/whitepapers/tuning.html) and other places. For example, if you allocate a lot of small, temporary blocks, you’ll want different GC settings than if you have a lot of bit, long-lived objects.

Regarding the linked question, why not just use Redhat? That might be a simplistic solution, but I guarantee it’s going to fix your problem faster than deeply delving into the arcane world of java tuning and OS memory management 😛

Firstly, you are crazy to be running a 32-bit OS when you have this much address space pressure. Migrate to a 64-bit JVM on 64-bit Linux. How much time have you wasted already trying to diagnose this problem which you must have suspected from the outset would go away with the larger address space of a 64-bit system ?

Secondly, it’s well known that out of all the Linux vendors Red Hat has the most kernel engineers on staff and makes some serious tweaks for the kernels in their RHEL products. These often include patches for large workloads like yours (well, it’s a large workload for a 32-bit system, it’s nothing special on 64-bit). So there’s some chance the reason ultimately is that RHEL has other customers doing the same crazy stuff as you and you’re benefiting from work they did to support those customers.

Finally though, since I suspect you’re going to insist on trying to find a way to do this on 32-bit SuSE I will point out that Linux offers a variety of address space trade-offs on 32-bit x86, and it’s possible (but not certain) that your SuSE systems just have a different trade-off selected. If you can bring up the configuration of the running kernels (often in /boot/config….) then you can compare settings like HIGHMEM.

The conventional option until a few years ago was 2:2 split, that is userspace is limited to 2GiB of address space, an easy solution to program and it has decent efficiency but in this scenario obviously you can’t have your requested heap since it would leave no space for the program text, stack etc. More recently the trend has been for 3:1 (similar to the Windows /3GB switch) which expands userspace address space at the cost of cramming the OS kernel itself into less space which potentially causes its own problems. This might work, but it would be very cramped so I also wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t work for your jobs. Finally newer Linux kernels also offer an option where you get 4GiB 32-bit userspace, which might be enough to make your jobs run reliably, at a significant performance cost since then obviously userspace and kernel addresses can’t co-exist.

To try this you’d need a new kernel. You may be able to just install one provided by SuSE (see if they offer others to choose from, e.g. a “PAE” option) or you may have to compile your own, in which case it probably invalidates your support contract.

But really, you should just go with option 1, switch to a 64-bit JVM and put your feet up.

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