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This strange behavior occurs when I replace the shared library object of a running process which causes the whole operating system to become inoperable with load avg values close to 40.

I don't lose responsiveness in the console, but I'm unable to kill any process or do any task to recover the OS from the disaster state. The only solution is to reboot the machine or to wait a substantial amount of time until it fully recovers.

My guess is that after replacing the .so, the process segfaults, but since the core dumping function is active, it has to retrieve all the memory state of 64 forked children and write that down to disk. Can this be causing the problem?

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It's likely a different signal, such as SIGBUS, and not SIGSEGV, when code is paged out and the file containing it has been modified. – Ben Voigt Nov 26 '12 at 15:23

Don't use constructs like cat > to "replace" your file. Use cp, mv or install instead.

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I did it with cp, and it crashed my server. – caruizdiaz Nov 26 '12 at 19:53
You have a very strange running process. Perhaps you should provide more details about it. – Michael Hampton Nov 26 '12 at 19:55
Don't use cp. Use mv. – David Schwartz Nov 26 '12 at 19:59
And if you have to use mv, then remember to fix your SELinux context afterward with restorecon. – Michael Hampton Nov 26 '12 at 20:00
what's the difference between using cp and mv? – caruizdiaz Nov 27 '12 at 16:20

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