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NAME    [Toc]    [Back]

     tuning -- performance tuning under FreeBSD

     When using disklabel(8) or sysinstall(8) to lay out your file systems 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 file systems
 and swap closer to the outer tracks, follow with the larger file
     systems, and end with the largest file systems.  It is also important to
     size system standard file systems 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 memory.
  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 expansion
 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 memory.
  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 memory
 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.  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 consider
 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 file system 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 directory
 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 usually
 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
     file system 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 properly
 partitioning your system fragmentation introduced in the smaller
     more heavily write-loaded partitions will not bleed over into the mostlyread
 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 parameters
 that are relatively safe to tune: blocksize, bytes/i-node, and

     FreeBSD performs best when using 8K or 16K file system block sizes.  The
     default file system 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 file system that requires a very
     large number of i-nodes or is intended to hold a large number of very
     small files.  Such a file system 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 inodes
 in a file system 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 file system that has lots of free space remaining but cannot
     accommodate 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 file system.  This command can be
     run in single-user mode without having to reformat the file system.  However,
 this is possibly the most abused program in the system.  Many people
 attempt to increase available file system space by setting the minfree
 percentage to 0.  This can lead to severe file system 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 typically
 enable softupdates automatically for non-root file systems).  Softupdates
 drastically improves meta-data performance, mainly file creation
     and deletion.  We recommend enabling softupdates on most file systems;
     however, there are two limitations to softupdates that you should be
     aware of when determining whether to use it on a file system.  First,
     softupdates guarantees file system consistency in the case of a crash but
     could very easily be several seconds (even a minute!) behind on pending
     write to the physical disk.  If you crash you may lose more work than
     otherwise.  Secondly, softupdates delays the freeing of file system
     blocks.  If you have a file system (such as the root file system) 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 file system during a typical
     install.  There is no loss of performance since the root file system 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 file systems 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 example,
 the /var file system customarily holds mailboxes, and atime (in combination
 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    [Toc]    [Back]

     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 file system by splitting I/O operations across two or
     more disks.  The vinum(8) and ccdconfig(8) utilities may be used to create
 simple striped file systems.  Generally speaking, striping smaller
     partitions such as the root and /var/tmp, or essentially read-only partitions
 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.  File systems tend to store metadata
 on power-of-2 boundaries and you usually want to reduce seeking
     rather than increase seeking.  This means you want to use a large offcenter
 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    [Toc]    [Back]

     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 file system 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-constrained
 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 systems.
  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 file system
 to issue media writes as full clusters are collected, which typically
     occurs when writing large sequential files.  The idea is to avoid saturating
 the buffer cache with dirty buffers when it would not benefit I/O
     performance.  However, this may stall processes and under certain circumstances
 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 occuring
 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 particular
 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 connection.
  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 building
 up.  But if you need high bandwidth over a fewer number of connections,
 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 than 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; specifically,
 gigabit WAN links and high-latency satellite links.  RFC1323 support
 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 disconnecting
 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, setting
 the sysctl to 0 may reduce the occurrence of TCP session disconnections.

     The net.inet.tcp.delayed_ack TCP feature is largely misunderstood.  Historically
 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 protocol (e.g. SMTP, WWW, POP3), and can cut the number of
     tiny packets flowing 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.  Normally the worst a delayed ACK can do is slightly delay
     the teardown of a connection, or slightly delay the ramp-up of a slowstart
 TCP connection.  While we are not sure we believe that the several
     FAQs related to packages such as SAMBA and SQUID which advise turning off
     delayed acks may be referring 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 than disable delayed

     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 optimum
 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 minimums
 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 conditions,
 but it can also result in higher ping times over slow links
     (though still much lower than you would get without the inflight algorithm).
  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 automatically
 bound to TCP and UDP sockets.  There are three ranges: a low
     range, a default range, and a high range, selectable via the IP_PORTRANGE
     setsockopt(2) call.  Most network programs use the default range which is
     controlled by net.inet.ip.portrange.first and net.inet.ip.portrange.last,
     which default 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 supports.
  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 associated
 with idle processes more quickly then the normal pageout algorithm.
  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 than later, eating more swap
     and disk bandwidth.  In a small system this option will have a detrimental
 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    [Toc]    [Back]

     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 network
 memory resources, etc.  As of FreeBSD 4.5, kern.maxusers is automatically
 sized at boot based on the amount of memory available in the system,
 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; values
 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 document.
  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 approximately
 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 moderates
 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 cluster
 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 file system 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.  See the
     TUNING section in the sendfile(2) manual page for details.


     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.  Generally
 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 kernel,
 sometimes by a megabyte or more, leaving more memory available for

     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 recognized
 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 better
 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    [Toc]    [Back]

     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
     file system corruption.  So our default was changed to be safe.  Unfortunately,
 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 performance,
 go with SCSI.

     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 than 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    [Toc]    [Back]

     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),

HISTORY    [Toc]    [Back]

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

FreeBSD 5.2.1			 June 25, 2002			 FreeBSD 5.2.1
[ Back ]
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