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What's happening when the Linux kernel is starting the OOM killer, how does it choose which process to kill first.

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What's happening when the Linux kernel is starting the OOM killer, how does it choose which process to kill first.
posted Sep 30, 2013 by Vinay Shukla

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1 Answer

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If your memory is exhaustively used up by the processes to the extent which can possibly threaten the stability of the system, then the OOM killer comes into picture. It is the task of the OOM Killer to kill the processes until enough memory is freed for the smooth functioning of the rest of the process.

The OOM Killer has to select the “best” process to kill. “Best” here refers to that process which will free up maximum memory upon killing and is also least important to the system. The primary goal is to kill the least number of processes that minimizes the damage done and at the same time maximizing the amount of memory freed.
To facilitate this, the kernel maintains oom_score for each of the processes. You can see the oom_score of each of the processes in the /proc filesystem under the pid directory

# cat /proc/10292/oom_score

Higher the value of oom_score of any process the higher is its likelihood of getting killed by the OOM Killer in an out-of-memory situation.

answer Sep 30, 2013 by Arvind Singh
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