linux – Python subprocess.Popen OSError: [Errno 12] Cannot allocate memory

linux – Python subprocess.Popen OSError: [Errno 12] Cannot allocate memory

As a general rule (i.e. in vanilla kernels), fork/clone failures with ENOMEM occur specifically because of either an honest to God out-of-memory condition (dup_mm, dup_task_struct, alloc_pid, mpol_dup, mm_init etc. croak), or because security_vm_enough_memory_mm failed you while enforcing the overcommit policy.

Start by checking the vmsize of the process that failed to fork, at the time of the fork attempt, and then compare to the amount of free memory (physical and swap) as it relates to the overcommit policy (plug the numbers in.)

In your particular case, note that Virtuozzo has additional checks in overcommit enforcement. Moreover, Im not sure how much control you truly have, from within your container, over swap and overcommit configuration (in order to influence the outcome of the enforcement.)

Now, in order to actually move forward Id say youre left with two options:

  • switch to a larger instance, or
  • put some coding effort into more effectively controlling your scripts memory footprint

NOTE that the coding effort may be all for naught if it turns out that its not you, but some other guy collocated in a different instance on the same server as you running amock.

Memory-wise, we already know that subprocess.Popen uses fork/clone under the hood, meaning that every time you call it youre requesting once more as much memory as Python is already eating up, i.e. in the hundreds of additional MB, all in order to then exec a puny 10kB executable such as free or ps. In the case of an unfavourable overcommit policy, youll soon see ENOMEM.

Alternatives to fork that do not have this parent page tables etc. copy problem are vfork and posix_spawn. But if you do not feel like rewriting chunks of subprocess.Popen in terms of vfork/posix_spawn, consider using suprocess.Popen only once, at the beginning of your script (when Pythons memory footprint is minimal), to spawn a shell script that then runs free/ps/sleep and whatever else in a loop parallel to your script; poll the scripts output or read it synchronously, possibly from a separate thread if you have other stuff to take care of asynchronously — do your data crunching in Python but leave the forking to the subordinate process.

HOWEVER, in your particular case you can skip invoking ps and free altogether; that information is readily available to you in Python directly from procfs, whether you choose to access it yourself or via existing libraries and/or packages. If ps and free were the only utilities you were running, then you can do away with subprocess.Popen completely.

Finally, whatever you do as far as subprocess.Popen is concerned, if your script leaks memory you will still hit the wall eventually. Keep an eye on it, and check for memory leaks.

Looking at the output of free -m it seems to me that you actually do not have swap memory available. I am not sure if in Linux the swap always will be available automatically on demand, but I was having the same problem and none of the answers here really helped me. Adding some swap memory however, fixed the problem in my case so since this might help other people facing the same problem, I post my answer on how to add a 1GB swap (on Ubuntu 12.04 but it should work similarly for other distributions.)

You can first check if there is any swap memory enabled.

$sudo swapon -s

if it is empty, it means you dont have any swap enabled. To add a 1GB swap:

$sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1024 count=1024k
$sudo mkswap /swapfile
$sudo swapon /swapfile

Add the following line to the fstab to make the swap permanent.

$sudo vim /etc/fstab

     /swapfile       none    swap    sw      0       0 

Source and more information can be found here.

linux – Python subprocess.Popen OSError: [Errno 12] Cannot allocate memory

For an easy fix, you could

echo 1 > /proc/sys/vm/overcommit_memory

if youre sure that your system has enough memory. See Linux over commit heuristic.

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