Do mmap/mprotect-readonly zero pages count towards committed memory?

By : R..

I want to keep virtual address space reserved in my process for memory that was previously used but is not presently needed. I'm interested in the situation where the host kernel is Linux and it's configured to prevent overcommit (which it does by detailed accounting for all committed memory).

If I just want to prevent the data that my application is no longer using from occupying physical memory or getting swapped to disk (wasting resources either way), I can madvise the kernel that it's unneeded, or mmap new zero pages over top of it. But neither of these approaches will necessarily reduce the amount of memory that counts as committed, which other processes are then prevented from using.

What if I replace the pages with fresh zero pages that are marked read-only? My intent is that they don't count towards committed memory, and further that I can later use mprotect to make them writable, and that it would fail if making them writable would go over the committed memory limit. Is my understanding correct? Will this work?

By : R..


If you're not using the page (reading or writing to it), it won't be commited to your address space (only reserved).

But your address space is limited, so you can't play as you want/like with it.

See for example ElectricFence which may fail for large number of allocations, because of insertion of "nul page/guard page" (anonymous memory with no access). Have a look at these thread : "mprotect() failed: Cannot allocate memory" :

By : ydroneaud

On Linux, assuming overcommit has not been disabled, you can use the MAP_NORESERVE flag to mmap, which will ensure that the page in question will not be accounted as allocated memory prior to being accessed. If overcommit has been completely disabled, see below about multiple-mapping pages.

Note that Linux's behavior for zero pages has changed at times in the past; with some kernel versions, simply reading the page would cause it to be allocated. With others, a write is necessary. Note that the protection flags do not cause allocation directly; however they can prevent you from accidentally triggering an allocation. Therefore, for most reliable results you should avoid accessing the page at all by mprotecting with PROT_NONE.

As another, more portable option, you can map the same page at multiple locations. That is, create and open an empty temp file, unlink it, ftruncate to some reasonable number of pages, then mmap repeatedly at offset 0 into the file. This will absolutely guarantee the memory only counts once against your program's memory usage. You can even use MAP_PRIVATE to auto-reallocate it when you write to the page.

This may have higher memory usage than the MAP_NORESERVE technique (both for kernel tracking data, and for the pages of the temp file itself), however, so I would recommend using MAP_NORESERVE instead when available. If you do use this technique, try to make the region being mapped reasonably large (and put it in /dev/shm if on Linux, to avoid actual disk IO). Each individual mmap call will consume a certain amount of (non-swappable) kernel memory to track it, so it's good to keep that count down.

By : bdonlan

This video can help you solving your question :)
By: admin