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TUNING(7)	   FreeBSD Miscellaneous Information Manual	     TUNING(7)

NAME
     tuning -- performance tuning under	FreeBSD

SYSTEM SETUP - DISKLABEL, NEWFS, TUNEFS, SWAP
     When using	disklabel(8) or	sysinstall(8) to lay out your filesystems on a
     hard disk it is important to remember that	hard drives can	transfer data
     much more quickly from outer tracks than they can from inner tracks.  To
     take advantage of this you	should try to pack your	smaller	filesystems
     and swap closer to	the outer tracks, follow with the larger filesystems,
     and end with the largest filesystems.  It is also important to size sys-
     tem standard filesystems such that	you will not be	forced to resize them
     later as you scale	the machine up.	 I usually create, in order, a 128M
     root, 1G swap, 128M /var, 128M /var/tmp, 3G /usr, and use any remaining
     space for /home.

     You should	typically size your swap space to approximately	2x main	mem-
     ory.  If you do not have a	lot of RAM, though, you	will generally want a
     lot more swap.  It	is not recommended that	you configure any less than
     256M of swap on a system and you should keep in mind future memory	expan-
     sion when sizing the swap partition.  The kernel's	VM paging algorithms
     are tuned to perform best when there is at	least 2x swap versus main mem-
     ory.  Configuring too little swap can lead	to inefficiencies in the VM
     page scanning code	as well	as create issues later on if you add more mem-
     ory to your machine.  Finally, on larger systems with multiple SCSI disks
     (or multiple IDE disks operating on different controllers), we strongly
     recommend that you	configure swap on each drive (up to four drives).  The
     swap partitions on	the drives should be approximately the same size.  The
     kernel can	handle arbitrary sizes but internal data structures scale to 4
     times the largest swap partition.	Keeping	the swap partitions near the
     same size will allow the kernel to	optimally stripe swap space across the
     N disks.  Do not worry about overdoing it a little, swap space is the
     saving grace of UNIX and even if you do not normally use much swap, it
     can give you more time to recover from a runaway program before being
     forced to reboot.

     How you size your /var partition depends heavily on what you intend to
     use the machine for.  This	partition is primarily used to hold mailboxes,
     the print spool, and log files.  Some people even make /var/log its own
     partition (but except for extreme cases it	is not worth the waste of a
     partition ID).  If	your machine is	intended to act	as a mail or print
     server, or	you are	running	a heavily visited web server, you should con-
     sider creating a much larger partition - perhaps a	gig or more.  It is
     very easy to underestimate	log file storage requirements.

     Sizing /var/tmp depends on	the kind of temporary file usage you think you
     will need.	 128M is the minimum we	recommend.  Also note that sysinstall
     will create a /tmp	directory.  Dedicating a partition for temporary file
     storage is	important for two reasons: first, it reduces the possibility
     of	filesystem corruption in a crash, and second it	reduces	the chance of
     a runaway process that fills up [/var]/tmp	from blowing up	more critical
     subsystems	(mail, logging,	etc).  Filling up [/var]/tmp is	a very common
     problem to	have.

     In	the old	days there were	differences between /tmp and /var/tmp, but the
     introduction of /var (and /var/tmp) led to	massive	confusion by program
     writers so	today programs haphazardly use one or the other	and thus no
     real distinction can be made between the two.  So it makes	sense to have
     just one temporary	directory and softlink to it from the other tmp	direc-
     tory locations.  However you handle /tmp, the one thing you do not	want
     to	do is leave it sitting on the root partition where it might cause root
     to	fill up	or possibly corrupt root in a crash/reboot situation.

     The /usr partition	holds the bulk of the files required to	support	the
     system and	a subdirectory within it called	/usr/local holds the bulk of
     the files installed from the ports(7) hierarchy.  If you do not use ports
     all that much and do not intend to	keep system source (/usr/src) on the
     machine, you can get away with a 1	gigabyte /usr partition.  However, if
     you install a lot of ports	(especially window managers and	Linux-emulated
     binaries),	we recommend at	least a	2 gigabyte /usr	and if you also	intend
     to	keep system source on the machine, we recommend	a 3 gigabyte /usr.  Do
     not underestimate the amount of space you will need in this partition, it
     can creep up and surprise you!

     The /home partition is typically used to hold user-specific data.	I usu-
     ally size it to the remainder of the disk.

     Why partition at all?  Why	not create one big / partition and be done
     with it?  Then I do not have to worry about undersizing things!  Well,
     there are several reasons this is not a good idea.	 First,	each partition
     has different operational characteristics and separating them allows the
     filesystem	to tune	itself to those	characteristics.  For example, the
     root and /usr partitions are read-mostly, with very little	writing, while
     a lot of reading and writing could	occur in /var and /var/tmp.  By	prop-
     erly partitioning your system fragmentation introduced in the smaller
     more heavily write-loaded partitions will not bleed over into the mostly-
     read partitions.  Additionally, keeping the write-loaded partitions
     closer to the edge	of the disk (i.e. before the really big	partitions
     instead of	after in the partition table) will increase I/O	performance in
     the partitions where you need it the most.	 Now it	is true	that you might
     also need I/O performance in the larger partitions, but they are so large
     that shifting them	more towards the edge of the disk will not lead	to a
     significant performance improvement whereas moving	/var to	the edge can
     have a huge impact.  Finally, there are safety concerns.  Having a	small
     neat root partition that is essentially read-only gives it	a greater
     chance of surviving a bad crash intact.

     Properly partitioning your	system also allows you to tune newfs(8), and
     tunefs(8) parameters.  Tuning newfs(8) requires more experience but can
     lead to significant improvements in performance.  There are three parame-
     ters that are relatively safe to tune: blocksize, bytes/i-node, and
     cylinders/group.

     FreeBSD performs best when	using 8K or 16K	filesystem block sizes.	 The
     default filesystem	block size is 16K, which provides best performance for
     most applications,	with the exception of those that perform random	access
     on	large files (such as database server software).	 Such applications
     tend to perform better with a smaller block size, although	modern disk
     characteristics are such that the performance gain	from using a smaller
     block size	may not	be worth consideration.	 Using a block size larger
     than 16K can cause	fragmentation of the buffer cache and lead to lower
     performance.

     The defaults may be unsuitable for	a filesystem that requires a very
     large number of i-nodes or	is intended to hold a large number of very
     small files.  Such	a filesystem should be created with an 8K or 4K	block
     size.  This also requires you to specify a	smaller	fragment size.	We
     recommend always using a fragment size that is 1/8	the block size (less
     testing has been done on other fragment size factors).  The newfs(8)
     options for this would be ``newfs -f 1024 -b 8192 ...''.

     If	a large	partition is intended to be used to hold fewer,	larger files,
     such as database files, you can increase the bytes/i-node ratio which
     reduces the number	of i-nodes (maximum number of files and	directories
     that can be created) for that partition.  Decreasing the number of	i-
     nodes in a	filesystem can greatly reduce fsck(8) recovery times after a
     crash.  Do	not use	this option unless you are actually storing large
     files on the partition, because if	you overcompensate you can wind	up
     with a filesystem that has	lots of	free space remaining but cannot	accom-
     modate any	more files.  Using 32768, 65536, or 262144 bytes/i-node	is
     recommended.  You can go higher but it will have only incremental effects
     on	fsck(8)	recovery times.	 For example, ``newfs -i 32768 ...''.

     tunefs(8) may be used to further tune a filesystem.  This command can be
     run in single-user	mode without having to reformat	the filesystem.	 How-
     ever, this	is possibly the	most abused program in the system.  Many peo-
     ple attempt to increase available filesystem space	by setting the min-
     free percentage to	0.  This can lead to severe filesystem fragmentation
     and we do not recommend that you do this.	Really the only	tunefs(8)
     option worthwhile here is turning on softupdates with ``tunefs -n enable
     /filesystem''.  (Note: in FreeBSD 4.5 and later, softupdates can be
     turned on using the -U option to newfs(8),	and sysinstall(8) will typi-
     cally enable softupdates automatically for	non-root filesystems).	Soft-
     updates drastically improves meta-data performance, mainly	file creation
     and deletion.  We recommend enabling softupdates on most filesystems;
     however, there are	two limitations	to softupdates that you	should be
     aware of when determining whether to use it on a filesystem.  First, sof-
     tupdates guarantees filesystem consistency	in the case of a crash but
     could very	easily be several seconds (even	a minute!)  behind on pending
     writes to the physical disk.  If you crash	you may	lose more work than
     otherwise.	 Secondly, softupdates delays the freeing of filesystem
     blocks.  If you have a filesystem (such as	the root filesystem) which is
     close to full, doing a major update of it,	e.g. ``make installworld'',
     can run it	out of space and cause the update to fail.  For	this reason,
     softupdates will not be enabled on	the root filesystem during a typical
     install.  There is	no loss	of performance since the root filesystem is
     rarely written to.

     A number of run-time mount(8) options exist that can help you tune	the
     system.  The most obvious and most	dangerous one is async.	 Do not	ever
     use it; it	is far too dangerous.  A less dangerous	and more useful
     mount(8) option is	called noatime.	 UNIX filesystems normally update the
     last-accessed time	of a file or directory whenever	it is accessed.	 This
     operation is handled in FreeBSD with a delayed write and normally does
     not create	a burden on the	system.	 However, if your system is accessing
     a huge number of files on a continuing basis the buffer cache can wind up
     getting polluted with atime updates, creating a burden on the system.
     For example, if you are running a heavily loaded web site,	or a news
     server with lots of readers, you might want to consider turning off atime
     updates on	your larger partitions with this mount(8) option.  However,
     you should	not gratuitously turn off atime	updates	everywhere.  For exam-
     ple, the /var filesystem customarily holds	mailboxes, and atime (in com-
     bination with mtime) is used to determine whether a mailbox has new mail.
     You might as well leave atime turned on for mostly	read-only partitions
     such as / and /usr	as well.  This is especially useful for	/ since	some
     system utilities use the atime field for reporting.

STRIPING DISKS
     In	larger systems you can stripe partitions from several drives together
     to	create a much larger overall partition.	 Striping can also improve the
     performance of a filesystem by splitting I/O operations across two	or
     more disks.  The vinum(8) and ccdconfig(8)	utilities may be used to cre-
     ate simple	striped	filesystems.  Generally	speaking, striping smaller
     partitions	such as	the root and /var/tmp, or essentially read-only	parti-
     tions such	as /usr	is a complete waste of time.  You should only stripe
     partitions	that require serious I/O performance, typically	/var, /home,
     or	custom partitions used to hold databases and web pages.	 Choosing the
     proper stripe size	is also	important.  Filesystems	tend to	store meta-
     data on power-of-2	boundaries and you usually want	to reduce seeking
     rather than increase seeking.  This means you want	to use a large off-
     center stripe size	such as	1152 sectors so	sequential I/O does not	seek
     both disks	and so meta-data is distributed	across both disks rather than
     concentrated on a single disk.  If	you really need	to get sophisticated,
     we	recommend using	a real hardware	RAID controller	from the list of
     FreeBSD supported controllers.

SYSCTL TUNING
     sysctl(8) variables permit	system behavior	to be monitored	and controlled
     at	run-time.  Some	sysctls	simply report on the behavior of the system;
     others allow the system behavior to be modified; some may be set at boot
     time using	rc.conf(5), but	most will be set via sysctl.conf(5).  There
     are several hundred sysctls in the	system,	including many that appear to
     be	candidates for tuning but actually are not.  In	this document we will
     only cover	the ones that have the greatest	effect on the system.

     The kern.ipc.shm_use_phys sysctl defaults to 0 (off) and may be set to 0
     (off) or 1	(on).  Setting this parameter to 1 will	cause all System V
     shared memory segments to be mapped to unpageable physical	RAM.  This
     feature only has an effect	if you are either (A) mapping small amounts of
     shared memory across many (hundreds) of processes,	or (B) mapping large
     amounts of	shared memory across any number	of processes.  This feature
     allows the	kernel to remove a great deal of internal memory management
     page-tracking overhead at the cost	of wiring the shared memory into core,
     making it unswappable.

     The vfs.vmiodirenable sysctl defaults to 1	(on).  This parameter controls
     how directories are cached	by the system.	Most directories are small and
     use but a single fragment (typically 1K) in the filesystem	and even less
     (typically	512 bytes) in the buffer cache.	 However, when operating in
     the default mode the buffer cache will only cache a fixed number of
     directories even if you have a huge amount	of memory.  Turning on this
     sysctl allows the buffer cache to use the VM Page Cache to	cache the
     directories.  The advantage is that all of	memory is now available	for
     caching directories.  The disadvantage is that the	minimum	in-core	memory
     used to cache a directory is the physical page size (typically 4K)	rather
     than 512 bytes.  We recommend turning this	option off in memory-con-
     strained environments; however, when on, it will substantially improve
     the performance of	services that manipulate a large number	of files.
     Such services can include web caches, large mail systems, and news	sys-
     tems.  Turning on this option will	generally not reduce performance even
     with the wasted memory but	you should experiment to find out.

     The vfs.write_behind sysctl defaults to 1 (on).  This tells the filesys-
     tem to issue media	writes as full clusters	are collected, which typically
     occurs when writing large sequential files.  The idea is to avoid satu-
     rating the	buffer cache with dirty	buffers	when it	would not benefit I/O
     performance.  However, this may stall processes and under certain circum-
     stances you may wish to turn it off.

     The vfs.hirunningspace sysctl determines how much outstanding write I/O
     may be queued to disk controllers system wide at any given	instance.  The
     default is	usually	sufficient but on machines with	lots of	disks you may
     want to bump it up	to four	or five	megabytes.  Note that setting too high
     a value (exceeding	the buffer cache's write threshold) can	lead to
     extremely bad clustering performance.  Do not set this value arbitrarily
     high!  Also, higher write queueing	values may add latency to reads	occur-
     ing at the	same time.

     There are various other buffer-cache and VM page cache related sysctls.
     We	do not recommend modifying these values.  As of	FreeBSD	4.3, the VM
     system does an extremely good job tuning itself.

     The net.inet.tcp.sendspace	and net.inet.tcp.recvspace sysctls are of par-
     ticular interest if you are running network intensive applications.  They
     control the amount	of send	and receive buffer space allowed for any given
     TCP connection.  The default sending buffer is 32K; the default receiving
     buffer is 64K.  You can often improve bandwidth utilization by increasing
     the default at the	cost of	eating up more kernel memory for each connec-
     tion.  We do not recommend	increasing the defaults	if you are serving
     hundreds or thousands of simultaneous connections because it is possible
     to	quickly	run the	system out of memory due to stalled connections	build-
     ing up.  But if you need high bandwidth over a fewer number of connec-
     tions, especially if you have gigabit Ethernet, increasing	these defaults
     can make a	huge difference.  You can adjust the buffer size for incoming
     and outgoing data separately.  For	example, if your machine is primarily
     doing web serving you may want to decrease	the recvspace in order to be
     able to increase the sendspace without eating too much kernel memory.
     Note that the routing table (see route(8))	can be used to introduce
     route-specific send and receive buffer size defaults.

     As	an additional management tool you can use pipes	in your	firewall rules
     (see ipfw(8)) to limit the	bandwidth going	to or from particular IP
     blocks or ports.  For example, if you have	a T1 you might want to limit
     your web traffic to 70% of	the T1's bandwidth in order to leave the
     remainder available for mail and interactive use.	Normally a heavily
     loaded web	server will not	introduce significant latencies	into other
     services even if the network link is maxed	out, but enforcing a limit can
     smooth things out and lead	to longer term stability.  Many	people also
     enforce artificial	bandwidth limitations in order to ensure that they are
     not charged for using too much bandwidth.

     Setting the send or receive TCP buffer to values larger then 65535	will
     result in a marginal performance improvement unless both hosts support
     the window	scaling	extension of the TCP protocol, which is	controlled by
     the net.inet.tcp.rfc1323 sysctl.  These extensions	should be enabled and
     the TCP buffer size should	be set to a value larger than 65536 in order
     to	obtain good performance	from certain types of network links; specifi-
     cally, gigabit WAN	links and high-latency satellite links.	 RFC1323 sup-
     port is enabled by	default.

     The net.inet.tcp.always_keepalive sysctl determines whether or not	the
     TCP implementation	should attempt to detect dead TCP connections by
     intermittently delivering ``keepalives'' on the connection.  By default,
     this is enabled for all applications; by setting this sysctl to 0,	only
     applications that specifically request keepalives will use	them.  In most
     environments, TCP keepalives will improve the management of system	state
     by	expiring dead TCP connections, particularly for	systems	serving	dialup
     users who may not always terminate	individual TCP connections before dis-
     connecting	from the network.  However, in some environments, temporary
     network outages may be incorrectly	identified as dead sessions, resulting
     in	unexpectedly terminated	TCP connections.  In such environments,	set-
     ting the sysctl to	0 may reduce the occurrence of TCP session disconnec-
     tions.

     The net.inet.tcp.delayed_ack TCP feature is largly	misunderstood.	His-
     torically speaking	this feature was designed to allow the acknowledgement
     to	transmitted data to be returned	along with the response.  For example,
     when you type over	a remote shell the acknowledgement to the character
     you send can be returned along with the data representing the echo	of the
     character.	  With delayed acks turned off the acknowledgement may be sent
     in	its own	packet before the remote service has a chance to echo the data
     it	just received.	This same concept also applies to any interactive pro-
     tocol (e.g. SMTP, WWW, POP3) and can cut the number of tiny packets flow-
     ing across	the network in half.   The FreeBSD delayed-ack implementation
     also follows the TCP protocol rule	that at	least every other packet be
     acknowledged even if the standard 100ms timeout has not yet passed.  Nor-
     mally the worst a delayed ack can do is slightly delay the	teardown of a
     connection, or slightly delay the ramp-up of a slow-start TCP connection.
     While we aren't sure we believe that the several FAQs related to packages
     such as SAMBA and SQUID which advise turning off delayed acks may be
     refering to the slow-start	issue.	In FreeBSD it would be more beneficial
     to	increase the slow-start	flightsize via the
     net.inet.tcp.slowstart_flightsize sysctl rather then disable delayed
     acks.

     The net.inet.tcp.inflight_enable sysctl turns on bandwidth	delay product
     limiting for all TCP connections.	The system will	attempt	to calculate
     the bandwidth delay product for each connection and limit the amount of
     data queued to the	network	to just	the amount required to maintain	opti-
     mum throughput.  This feature is useful if	you are	serving	data over
     modems, GigE, or high speed WAN links (or any other link with a high
     bandwidth*delay product), especially if you are also using	window scaling
     or	have configured	a large	send window.  If you enable this option	you
     should also be sure to set	net.inet.tcp.inflight_debug to 0 (disable
     debugging), and for production use	setting	net.inet.tcp.inflight_min to
     at	least 6144 may be beneficial.  Note, however, that setting high	mini-
     mums may effectively disable bandwidth limiting depending on the link.
     The limiting feature reduces the amount of	data built up in intermediate
     router and	switch packet queues as	well as	reduces	the amount of data
     built up in the local host's interface queue.  With fewer packets queued
     up, interactive connections, especially over slow modems, will also be
     able to operate with lower	round trip times.  However, note that this
     feature only effects data transmission (uploading / server-side).	It
     does not effect data reception (downloading).

     Adjusting net.inet.tcp.inflight_stab is not recommended.  This parameter
     defaults to 20, representing 2 maximal packets added to the bandwidth
     delay product window calculation.	The additional window is required to
     stabilize the algorithm and improve responsiveness	to changing condi-
     tions, but	it can also result in higher ping times	over slow links
     (though still much	lower then you would get without the inflight algo-
     rithm).  In such cases you	may wish to try	reducing this parameter	to 15,
     10, or 5, and you may also	have to	reduce net.inet.tcp.inflight_min (for
     example, to 3500) to get the desired effect.  Reducing these parameters
     should be done as a last resort only.

     The net.inet.ip.portrange.* sysctls control the port number ranges	auto-
     matically bound to	TCP and	UDP sockets.  There are	three ranges:  A low
     range, a default range, and a high	range, selectable via an IP_PORTRANGE
     setsockopt() call.	 Most network programs use the default range which is
     controlled	by net.inet.ip.portrange.first and net.inet.ip.portrange.last,
     which defaults to 1024 and	5000 respectively.  Bound port ranges are used
     for outgoing connections and it is	possible to run	the system out of
     ports under certain circumstances.	 This most commonly occurs when	you
     are running a heavily loaded web proxy.  The port range is	not an issue
     when running serves which handle mainly incoming connections such as a
     normal web	server,	or has a limited number	of outgoing connections	such
     as	a mail relay.  For situations where you	may run	yourself out of	ports
     we	recommend increasing net.inet.ip.portrange.last	modestly.  A value of
     10000 or 20000 or 30000 may be reasonable.	 You should also consider
     firewall effects when changing the	port range.  Some firewalls may	block
     large ranges of ports (usually low-numbered ports)	and expect systems to
     use higher	ranges of ports	for outgoing connections.  For this reason we
     do	not recommend that net.inet.ip.portrange.first be lowered.

     The kern.ipc.somaxconn sysctl limits the size of the listen queue for
     accepting new TCP connections.  The default value of 128 is typically too
     low for robust handling of	new connections	in a heavily loaded web	server
     environment.  For such environments, we recommend increasing this value
     to	1024 or	higher.	 The service daemon may	itself limit the listen	queue
     size (e.g.	sendmail(8), apache) but will often have a directive in	its
     configuration file	to adjust the queue size up.  Larger listen queues
     also do a better job of fending off denial	of service attacks.

     The kern.maxfiles sysctl determines how many open files the system	sup-
     ports.  The default is typically a	few thousand but you may need to bump
     this up to	ten or twenty thousand if you are running databases or large
     descriptor-heavy daemons.	The read-only kern.openfiles sysctl may	be
     interrogated to determine the current number of open files	on the system.

     The vm.swap_idle_enabled sysctl is	useful in large	multi-user systems
     where you have lots of users entering and leaving the system and lots of
     idle processes.  Such systems tend	to generate a great deal of continuous
     pressure on free memory reserves.	Turning	this feature on	and adjusting
     the swapout hysteresis (in	idle seconds) via vm.swap_idle_threshold1 and
     vm.swap_idle_threshold2 allows you	to depress the priority	of pages asso-
     ciated with idle processes	more quickly then the normal pageout algo-
     rithm.  This gives	a helping hand to the pageout daemon.  Do not turn
     this option on unless you need it,	because	the tradeoff you are making is
     to	essentially pre-page memory sooner rather then later, eating more swap
     and disk bandwidth.  In a small system this option	will have a detrimen-
     tal effect	but in a large system that is already doing moderate paging
     this option allows	the VM system to stage whole processes into and	out of
     memory more easily.

LOADER TUNABLES
     Some aspects of the system	behavior may not be tunable at runtime because
     memory allocations	they perform must occur	early in the boot process.  To
     change loader tunables, you must set their	values in loader.conf(5) and
     reboot the	system.

     kern.maxusers controls the	scaling	of a number of static system tables,
     including defaults	for the	maximum	number of open files, sizing of	net-
     work memory resources, etc.  As of	FreeBSD	4.5, kern.maxusers is automat-
     ically sized at boot based	on the amount of memory	available in the sys-
     tem, and may be determined	at run-time by inspecting the value of the
     read-only kern.maxusers sysctl.  Some sites will require larger or
     smaller values of kern.maxusers and may set it as a loader	tunable; val-
     ues of 64,	128, and 256 are not uncommon.	We do not recommend going
     above 256 unless you need a huge number of	file descriptors; many of the
     tunable values set	to their defaults by kern.maxusers may be individually
     overridden	at boot-time or	run-time as described elsewhere	in this	docu-
     ment.  Systems older than FreeBSD 4.4 must	set this value via the kernel
     config(8) option maxusers instead.

     kern.ipc.nmbclusters may be adjusted to increase the number of network
     mbufs the system is willing to allocate.  Each cluster represents approx-
     imately 2K	of memory, so a	value of 1024 represents 2M of kernel memory
     reserved for network buffers.  You	can do a simple	calculation to figure
     out how many you need.  If	you have a web server which maxes out at 1000
     simultaneous connections, and each	connection eats	a 16K receive and 16K
     send buffer, you need approximately 32MB worth of network buffers to deal
     with it.  A good rule of thumb is to multiply by 2, so 32MBx2 = 64MB/2K =
     32768.  So	for this case you would	want to	set kern.ipc.nmbclusters to
     32768.  We	recommend values between 1024 and 4096 for machines with mod-
     erates amount of memory, and between 4096 and 32768 for machines with
     greater amounts of	memory.	 Under no circumstances	should you specify an
     arbitrarily high value for	this parameter,	it could lead to a boot-time
     crash.  The -m option to netstat(1) may be	used to	observe	network	clus-
     ter use.  Older versions of FreeBSD do not	have this tunable and require
     that the kernel config(8) option NMBCLUSTERS be set instead.

     More and more programs are	using the sendfile(2) system call to transmit
     files over	the network.  The kern.ipc.nsfbufs sysctl controls the number
     of	filesystem buffers sendfile(2) is allowed to use to perform its	work.
     This parameter nominally scales with kern.maxusers	so you should not need
     to	modify this parameter except under extreme circumstances.

KERNEL CONFIG TUNING
     There are a number	of kernel options that you may have to fiddle with in
     a large-scale system.  In order to	change these options you need to be
     able to compile a new kernel from source.	The config(8) manual page and
     the handbook are good starting points for learning	how to do this.	 Gen-
     erally the	first thing you	do when	creating your own custom kernel	is to
     strip out all the drivers and services you	do not use.  Removing things
     like INET6	and drivers you	do not have will reduce	the size of your ker-
     nel, sometimes by a megabyte or more, leaving more	memory available for
     applications.

     SCSI_DELAY	and IDE_DELAY may be used to reduce system boot	times.	The
     defaults are fairly high and can be responsible for 15+ seconds of	delay
     in	the boot process.  Reducing SCSI_DELAY to 5 seconds usually works
     (especially with modern drives).  Reducing	IDE_DELAY also works but you
     have to be	a little more careful.

     There are a number	of *_CPU options that can be commented out.  If	you
     only want the kernel to run on a Pentium class CPU, you can easily	remove
     I386_CPU and I486_CPU, but	only remove I586_CPU if	you are	sure your CPU
     is	being recognized as a Pentium II or better.  Some clones may be	recog-
     nized as a	Pentium	or even	a 486 and not be able to boot without those
     options.  If it works, great!  The	operating system will be able to bet-
     ter-use higher-end	CPU features for MMU, task switching, timebase,	and
     even device operations.  Additionally, higher-end CPUs support 4MB	MMU
     pages, which the kernel uses to map the kernel itself into	memory,
     increasing	its efficiency under heavy syscall loads.

IDE WRITE CACHING
     FreeBSD 4.3 flirted with turning off IDE write caching.  This reduced
     write bandwidth to	IDE disks but was considered necessary due to serious
     data consistency issues introduced	by hard	drive vendors.	Basically the
     problem is	that IDE drives	lie about when a write completes.  With	IDE
     write caching turned on, IDE hard drives will not only write data to disk
     out of order, they	will sometimes delay some of the blocks	indefinitely
     under heavy disk load.  A crash or	power failure can result in serious
     filesystem	corruption.  So	our default was	changed	to be safe.  Unfortu-
     nately, the result	was such a huge	loss in	performance that we caved in
     and changed the default back to on	after the release.  You	should check
     the default on your system	by observing the hw.ata.wc sysctl variable.
     If	IDE write caching is turned off, you can turn it back on by setting
     the hw.ata.wc loader tunable to 1.	 More information on tuning the	ATA
     driver system may be found	in the ata(4) man page.

     There is a	new experimental feature for IDE hard drives called
     hw.ata.tags (you also set this in the boot	loader)	which allows write
     caching to	be safely turned on.  This brings SCSI tagging features	to IDE
     drives.  As of this writing only IBM DPTA and DTLA	drives support the
     feature.  Warning!	 These drives apparently have quality control problems
     and I do not recommend purchasing them at this time.  If you need perfor-
     mance, go with SCSI.

CPU, MEMORY, DISK, NETWORK
     The type of tuning	you do depends heavily on where	your system begins to
     bottleneck	as load	increases.  If your system runs	out of CPU (idle times
     are perpetually 0%) then you need to consider upgrading the CPU or	moving
     to	an SMP motherboard (multiple CPU's), or	perhaps	you need to revisit
     the programs that are causing the load and	try to optimize	them.  If your
     system is paging to swap a	lot you	need to	consider adding	more memory.
     If	your system is saturating the disk you typically see high CPU idle
     times and total disk saturation.  systat(1) can be	used to	monitor	this.
     There are many solutions to saturated disks: increasing memory for
     caching, mirroring	disks, distributing operations across several
     machines, and so forth.  If disk performance is an	issue and you are
     using IDE drives, switching to SCSI can help a great deal.	 While modern
     IDE drives	compare	with SCSI in raw sequential bandwidth, the moment you
     start seeking around the disk SCSI	drives usually win.

     Finally, you might	run out	of network suds.  The first line of defense
     for improving network performance is to make sure you are using switches
     instead of	hubs, especially these days where switches are almost as
     cheap.  Hubs have severe problems under heavy loads due to	collision
     backoff and one bad host can severely degrade the entire LAN.  Second,
     optimize the network path as much as possible.  For example, in
     firewall(7) we describe a firewall	protecting internal hosts with a
     topology where the	externally visible hosts are not routed	through	it.
     Use 100BaseT rather than 10BaseT, or use 1000BaseT	rather then 100BaseT,
     depending on your needs.  Most bottlenecks	occur at the WAN link (e.g.
     modem, T1,	DSL, whatever).	 If expanding the link is not an option	it may
     be	possible to use	the dummynet(4)	feature	to implement peak shaving or
     other forms of traffic shaping to prevent the overloaded service (such as
     web services) from	affecting other	services (such as email), or vice
     versa.  In	home installations this	could be used to give interactive
     traffic (your browser, ssh(1) logins) priority over services you export
     from your box (web	services, email).

SEE ALSO
     netstat(1), systat(1), ata(4), dummynet(4), login.conf(5),	rc.conf(5),
     sysctl.conf(5), firewall(7), hier(7), ports(7), boot(8), ccdconfig(8),
     config(8),	disklabel(8), fsck(8), ifconfig(8), ipfw(8), loader(8),
     mount(8), newfs(8), route(8), sysctl(8), sysinstall(8), tunefs(8),
     vinum(8)

HISTORY
     The tuning	manual page was	originally written by Matthew Dillon and first
     appeared in FreeBSD 4.3, May 2001.

FreeBSD	10.1			 May 25, 2001			  FreeBSD 10.1

NAME | SYSTEM SETUP - DISKLABEL, NEWFS, TUNEFS, SWAP | STRIPING DISKS | SYSCTL TUNING | LOADER TUNABLES | KERNEL CONFIG TUNING | IDE WRITE CACHING | CPU, MEMORY, DISK, NETWORK | SEE ALSO | HISTORY

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