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memcg, kmem: deprecate kmem.limit_in_bytes

Cgroup v1 memcg controller has exposed a dedicated kmem limit to users
which turned out to be really a bad idea because there are paths which
cannot shrink the kernel memory usage enough to get below the limit (e.g.
because the accounted memory is not reclaimable).  There are cases when
the failure is even not allowed (e.g.  __GFP_NOFAIL).  This means that the
kmem limit is in excess to the hard limit without any way to shrink and
thus completely useless.  OOM killer cannot be invoked to handle the
situation because that would lead to a premature oom killing.

As a result many places might see ENOMEM returning from kmalloc and result
in unexpected errors.  E.g.  a global OOM killer when there is a lot of
free memory because ENOMEM is translated into VM_FAULT_OOM in #PF path and
therefore pagefault_out_of_memory would result in OOM killer.

Please note that the kernel memory is still accounted to the overall limit
along with the user memory so removing the kmem specific limit should
still allow to contain kernel memory consumption.  Unlike the kmem one,
though, it invokes memory reclaim and targeted memcg oom killing if

Start the deprecation process by crying to the kernel log.  Let's see
whether there are relevant usecases and simply return to EINVAL in the
second stage if nobody complains in few releases.

[ tweak documentation text]
Signed-off-by: Michal Hocko <>
Reviewed-by: Shakeel Butt <>
Cc: Johannes Weiner <>
Cc: Vladimir Davydov <>
Cc: Andrey Ryabinin <>
Cc: Thomas Lindroth <>
Cc: Tetsuo Handa <>
Signed-off-by: Andrew Morton <>
Signed-off-by: Linus Torvalds <>
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Michal Hocko authored and torvalds committed Sep 23, 2019
1 parent 4d0e323 commit 0158115f702b0ba208ab0b5adf44cae99b3ebcc7
Showing with 6 additions and 1 deletion.
  1. +3 −1 Documentation/admin-guide/cgroup-v1/memory.rst
  2. +3 −0 mm/memcontrol.c
@@ -85,8 +85,10 @@ Brief summary of control files.
memory.oom_control set/show oom controls.
memory.numa_stat show the number of memory usage per numa

memory.kmem.limit_in_bytes set/show hard limit for kernel memory
This knob is deprecated and shouldn't be
used. It is planned that this be removed in
the foreseeable future.
memory.kmem.usage_in_bytes show current kernel memory allocation
memory.kmem.failcnt show the number of kernel memory usage
hits limits
@@ -3637,6 +3637,9 @@ static ssize_t mem_cgroup_write(struct kernfs_open_file *of,
ret = mem_cgroup_resize_max(memcg, nr_pages, true);
case _KMEM:
pr_warn_once("kmem.limit_in_bytes is deprecated and will be removed. "
"Please report your usecase to if you "
"depend on this functionality.\n");
ret = memcg_update_kmem_max(memcg, nr_pages);
case _TCP:

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