I'm having a problem with a debian server that I thought was due to bad RAM, but is persisting.

It's a Dell Poweredge 6800 with two dual-core 3.6GHZ Xeon processors and 5GB of DDR2 ECC 333.

I've got a single 73GB SCSI Drive.

I'm working it to death right now, pulling records from MySQL to build asterisk .call files (small text files) which trigger SIP calls.

We manage it via a cgi interface, and the system is also running citadel for our mail, but we have less than five users. It's not a huge drain.

My peak usage seems to be about 460 calls per minute. Load hovers between 2.0 - 4.3, if I push it past that, it spikes to >22.0.

The problem I'm having is that, about an hour into a dial, it's freezing up on me. Last night I started it at 5:59, and at 6:55:17 seconds, the system became non-responsive. Nothing was logged, I couldn't connect via ssh or http, it responded to ping, and nmap showed open ports which I was able to telnet to, but not elicit any response from.

My sar data collection ran at 6:50, and at that time, I was seeing heavy usage, as expected, but nothing outrageous, as far as I can tell.

The system had been complaining of a memory error in one of the new 2GB strips I'd installed, so after the first crash, I replaced that pair with the 512MB strips we upgraded from.

I'm currently dialing with a live sar data collection running, in case it crashes again. At least I'll be able to dial in with a little more granularity.

Other than that, I'm lost as to how to diagnose the system freeze in absence of any relevant log data, or a crash dump. As the system is still running, but completely nonresponsive during this time, until I perform a power-cycle. Any ideas?

NOTE: I have new servers on order to take some of the load off of this system by distributing services, but in the meantime, it's a mean time where our production is relying on this workhorse.

Here's the Sar Data from Last Night's crash.

UPDATE: This sar snapshot was running in 10sec increments, last gathered 1 sec prior to freeze-up

I've purchased a terminal console server, and can now see what's going on when the system freezes up.

This set of messages just repeats every 30 seconds or so, cycling through CPU1 and CPU2

[17675.940127] BUG: soft lockup - CPU#1 stuck for 61s! [asterisk:4579]
[17675.940127] Modules linked in: btrfs zlib_deflate crc32c libcrc32c ufs qnx4 hfsplus hfs minix ntfs vfat msdos fat jfs xfs reiserfs ext]
[17675.940127] Pid: 4579, comm: asterisk Not tainted (2.6.32-5-686-bigmem #1) PowerEdge 6800
[17675.940127] EIP: 0060:[<c1024c6f>] EFLAGS: 00000202 CPU: 1
[17675.940127] EIP is at native_flush_tlb_others+0x85/0xa6
[17675.940127] EAX: 00000282 EBX: c14620ac ECX: c102fb3a EDX: 00000020
[17675.940127] ESI: 00000001 EDI: 00000040 EBP: c14620a0 ESP: f35d1a3c
[17675.940127]  DS: 007b ES: 007b FS: 00d8 GS: 00e0 SS: 0068
[17675.940127] CR0: 80050033 CR2: b3f06946 CR3: 36787000 CR4: 000006f0
[17675.940127] DR0: 00000000 DR1: 00000000 DR2: 00000000 DR3: 00000000
[17675.940127] DR6: ffff0ff0 DR7: 00000400
[17675.940127] Call Trace:
[17675.940127]  [<c1024d57>] ? flush_tlb_page+0x5d/0x65
[17675.940127]  [<c1024144>] ? ptep_set_access_flags+0x59/0x63
[17675.940127]  [<c10a13c8>] ? do_wp_page+0x3b9/0x7dd
[17675.940127]  [<c1025a1d>] ? kmap_atomic_prot+0xd7/0xfc
[17675.940127]  [<c10a3173>] ? handle_mm_fault+0x982/0xa22
[17675.940127]  [<c104d52d>] ? lock_hrtimer_base+0x15/0x2f
[17675.940127]  [<c104d5ab>] ? hrtimer_try_to_cancel+0x2f/0x35
[17675.940127]  [<c12823e8>] ? do_page_fault+0x2f1/0x307
[17675.940127]  [<c12820f7>] ? do_page_fault+0x0/0x307
[17675.940127]  [<c1280923>] ? error_code+0x73/0x78
[17675.940127]  [<c10c00d8>] ? copy_strings+0x94/0x1ba
[17675.940127]  [<c10c6b8a>] ? do_sys_poll+0x2c3/0x312
[17675.940127]  [<c10c7586>] ? __pollwait+0x0/0xa5
[17675.940127]  [<c10c762b>] ? pollwake+0x0/0x65
[17675.940127]  [<c10c762b>] ? pollwake+0x0/0x65
[17675.940127]  [<c10c762b>] ? pollwake+0x0/0x65
[17675.940127]  [<c10c762b>] ? pollwake+0x0/0x65
[17675.940127]  [<c1026614>] ? activate_task+0x1e/0x24
[17675.940127]  [<c1032713>] ? push_rt_task+0x208/0x242
[17675.940127]  [<c102acb9>] ? post_schedule+0x31/0x3e
[17675.940127]  [<c127f5d6>] ? schedule+0x78f/0x7dc
[17675.940127]  [<c10567d5>] ? futex_wait_setup+0x5c/0xcd
[17675.940127]  [<c10568cd>] ? futex_wait_queue_me+0x87/0x98
[17675.940127]  [<c100c96a>] ? sched_clock+0x5/0x7
[17675.940127]  [<c1091b00>] ? zone_watermark_ok+0x16/0x99
[17675.940127]  [<c1087baa>] ? cpupri_find+0x4c/0xd6
[17675.940127]  [<c109270c>] ? get_page_from_freelist+0xc0/0x3c7
[17675.940127]  [<c102d917>] ? check_preempt_curr_rt+0x76/0xe3
[17675.940127]  [<c1024e31>] ? smp_invalidate_interrupt+0x73/0x86
[17675.940127]  [<c1092cd4>] ? __alloc_pages_nodemask+0xf3/0x4d9
[17675.940127]  [<c113d358>] ? cpumask_any_but+0x20/0x2b
[17675.940127]  [<c1024d44>] ? flush_tlb_page+0x4a/0x65
[17675.940127]  [<c127fe16>] ? mutex_lock+0xb/0x24
[17675.940127]  [<c10bb225>] ? do_sync_read+0xc0/0x107
[17675.940127]  [<c10438d5>] ? do_send_sig_info+0x4f/0x59
[17675.940127]  [<c104a97a>] ? autoremove_wake_function+0x0/0x2d
[17675.940127]  [<c1051af5>] ? ktime_get_ts+0xcd/0xd5
[17675.940127]  [<c10c6d2b>] ? sys_poll+0x44/0x8d
[17675.940127]  [<c100813b>] ? sysenter_do_call+0x12/0x28

The first iteration had another set of modules listed.

[267866.376128] Modules linked in: cpufreq_powersave cpufreq_stats cpufreq_conservative cpufreq_userspace parport_pc ppdev lp parport sco bridge stp bnep rfcomm l2cap crc16 bluetooth rfkill nfsd lockd nfs_acl auth_rpcgss sunrpc exportfs binfmt_misc fuse loop radeon ttm psmouse drm_kms_helper serio_raw evdev pcspkr drm i2c_algo_bit rng_core i2c_core dcdbas shpchp button pci_hotplug processor ext3 jbd mbcache sd_mod crc_t10dif sg sr_mod cdrom ata_generic uhci_hcd ata_piix mptspi mptscsih ehci_hcd mptbase usbcore nls_base libata tg3 scsi_transport_spi scsi_mod floppy libphy thermal thermal_sys [last unloaded: scsi_wait_scan]

I installed intel-microcode microcode.ctl haven't figured out how to disable hyperthreading as some other forums have suggested.

  • Is there a PERC card with BBU involved?
    – thinice
    May 17, 2012 at 2:58
  • there's no raid at all. it's got a single 73G drive.
    – TaoJoannes
    May 17, 2012 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


I think this pattern might have to do with the I/O on write being so high that the disks aren't getting synced. That would explain the sudden spike in load during which nothing is logged, which eventually resolves itself.

If this is the case, /proc/meminfo will show a high value for "Dirty" when the system is freezing up, and you may see dmesg/syslog messages like:

INFO: task syslogd:1500 blocked for more than 120 seconds. 
"echo 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/hung_task_timeout_secs" disables this message. 
syslogd D 0000000000000110 0 1500 1 1503 1491 (NOTLB) 
 ffff8800b0739d88 0000000000000286 ffff8800b8922970 ffff8800b8922970 
 0000000000000009 ffff8800bb2dd0c0 ffff8800baa55080 0000000000002b40 
 ffff8800bb2dd2a8 0000000000000000 
Call Trace: 
 [] :jbd:log_wait_commit+0xa3/0xf5 
 [] autoremove_wake_function+0x0/0x2e 
 [] :jbd:journal_stop+0x1cf/0x1ff 
 [] __writeback_single_inode+0x1d9/0x318 
 [] do_readv_writev+0x26e/0x291 
 [] sync_inode+0x24/0x33 
 [] :ext3:ext3_sync_file+0xcc/0xf8 
 [] do_fsync+0x52/0xa4 
 [] __do_fsync+0x23/0x36 
 [] tracesys+0xab/0xb6

If this is what's happening, you'll have to find some way to make the writes less taxing, by throttling them, or by caching them, or maybe by switching the disk scheduler to noop, or... etc. Sometimes throwing memory at this issue will help because the system will be able to tolerate bigger spikes in "dirty" memory before freezing up.

  • it's not coming back, I have to power cycle the machine, let it sit in that state all night, no new log entries until this morning on the reboot, but good info. Sar shows only 30% memory usage.
    – TaoJoannes
    May 2, 2012 at 16:05
  • It's started up pretty heavy again, see the edit.
    – TaoJoannes
    May 17, 2012 at 2:30

A couple of things you could try to get more information:

  • If you think your server is completely crashing you may be able to get information from netconsole if for some reason you don't have access to the default console.

  • If you are running Asterisk with the -p flag and it might be livelocking the system, you could try making sure you can create a new ssh shell like: # for pid in `pidof sshd`; do chrt -p -f 99 $pid; done

  • You could also try setting the following options to have it reboot automatically if the kernel detects a problem: # sysctl -w kernel.panic_on_oops=1; sysctl -w kernel.panic=1; sysctl -w kernel.softlockup_panic=1.

  • excellent suggestions! Working on implementing that netconsole and panic setting.
    – TaoJoannes
    May 2, 2012 at 21:41
  • Did you find any new clues?
    – sruffell
    May 6, 2012 at 23:59
  • none yet, every time it does it, it just stops dead, but the ports are still open and it responds to ping. no log information, no nothing.
    – TaoJoannes
    May 7, 2012 at 17:44

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