Sun Java System Application Server Enterprise Edition 8.2 Performance Tuning Guide

Chapter 5 Tuning the Operating System

This chapter discusses tuning the operating system (OS) for optimum performance. It discusses the following topics:

Server Scaling

This section provides recommendations for optimal performance scaling server for the following server subsystems:


The Application Server automatically takes advantage of multiple CPUs. In general, the effectiveness of multiple CPUs varies with the operating system and the workload, but more processors will generally improve dynamic content performance.

Static content involves mostly input/output (I/O) rather than CPU activity. If the server is tuned properly, increasing primary memory will increase its content caching and thus increase the relative amount of time it spends in I/O versus CPU activity. Studies have shown that doubling the number of CPUs increases servlet performance by 50 to 80 percent.


See Hardware and Software Requirements in Sun Java System Application Server Enterprise Edition 8.2 Release Notes for specific memory recommendations for each supported operating system.

Disk Space

It is best to have enough disk space for the OS, document tree, and log files. In most cases 2GB total is sufficient.

Put the OS, swap/paging file, Application Server logs, and document tree each on separate hard drives. This way, if the log files fill up the log drive, the OS does not suffer. Also, its easy to tell if the OS paging file is causing drive activity, for example.

OS vendors generally provide specific recommendations for how much swap or paging space to allocate. Based on Sun testing, Application Server performs best with swap space equal to RAM, plus enough to map the document tree.


To determine the bandwidth the application needs, determine the following values:

Then, the bandwidth required is:

Npeakr / t

For example, to support a peak of 50 users with an average document size of 24 Kbytes, and transferring each document in an average of 5 seconds, requires 240 Kbytes (1920 Kbit/s). So the site needs two T1 lines (each 1544 Kbit/s). This bandwidth also allows some overhead for growth.

The server’s network interface card must support more than the WAN to which it is connected. For example, if you have up to three T1 lines, you can get by with a 10BaseT interface. Up to a T3 line (45 Mbit/s), you can use 100BaseT. But if you have more than 50 Mbit/s of WAN bandwidth, consider configuring multiple 100BaseT interfaces, or look at Gigabit Ethernet technology.

Tuning for Solaris

Tuning Parameters

Tuning Solaris TCP/IP settings benefits programs that open and close many sockets. Since the Application Server operates with a small fixed set of connections, the performance gain might not be significant.

The following table shows Solaris tuning parameters that affect performance and scalability benchmarking. These values are examples of how to tune your system for best performance.

Table 5–1 Tuning Parameters for Solaris




Tuned Value  






Limit of process open file descriptors. Set to account for expected load (for associated sockets, files, and pipes if any). 








Controls streams driver queue size. Setting to 0 makes it infinity so lack of buffer space does not affect performance runs. Set on clients too. 


ndd /dev/tcp 



Set on clients too. 


ndd /dev/tcp 





ndd /dev/tcp 





ndd /dev/tcp 





ndd /dev/tcp 





ndd /dev/tcp 



Decrease for high traffic web sites. 


ndd /dev/tcp 



Increase if retransmission is greater than 30-40%. 


ndd /dev/tcp 





ndd /dev/tcp 





ndd /dev/tcp 



Set on clients, too. 


ndd /dev/tcp 

Slightly faster transmission of small amounts of data. 


ndd /dev/tcp 



Size of transmit buffer. 


ndd /dev/tcp 



Size of transmit buffer. 


ndd /dev/tcp 



Size of receive buffer. 


ndd /dev/tcp 



Size of connection hash table. See Sizing the Connection Hash Table

Sizing the Connection Hash Table

The connection hash table keeps all the information for active TCP connections. Use the following command to get the size of the connection hash table:

ndd -get /dev/tcp tcp_conn_hash

This value does not limit the number of connections, but it can cause connection hashing to take longer. The default size is 512.

To make lookups more efficient, set the value to half of the number of concurrent TCP connections that are expected on the server. You can set this value only in /etc/system, and it becomes effective at boot time.

Use the following command to get the current number of TCP connections.

netstat -nP tcp|wc -l

File Descriptor Setting

On Solaris, setting the maximum number of open files property using ulimit has the biggest impact on efforts to support the maximum number of RMI/IIOP clients.

To increase the hard limit, add the following command to /etc/system and reboot it once:

set rlim_fd_max = 8192

Verify this hard limit by using the following command:

ulimit -a -H

Once the above hard limit is set, increase the value of this property explicitly (up to this limit) using the following command:

ulimit -n 8192

Verify this limit by using the following command:

ulimit -a

For example, with the default ulimit of 64, a simple test driver can support only 25 concurrent clients, but with ulimit set to 8192, the same test driver can support 120 concurrent clients. The test driver spawned multiple threads, each of which performed a JNDI lookup and repeatedly called the same business method with a think (delay) time of 500ms between business method calls, exchanging data of about 100KB.

Using Alternate Threads

The Solaris operating environment by default supports a two-level thread model (up to Solaris 8). Application-level Java threads are mapped to user-level Solaris threads, which are multiplexed on a limited pool of light weight processes (LWPs). To conserve kernel resources and maximize system efficiency, you need only as many LWPs as there are processors on the system. This helps when there are hundreds of user-level threads. You can choose from multiple threading models and different methods of synchronization within the model, depending on the JVM.

Try to load the alternate in /usr/lib/lwp/ on Solaris 8 by changing the LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include /usr/lib/lwp before /usr/lib. Both give better throughput and system utilization for certain applications; especially those using fewer threads.

By default, the Application Server uses /usr/lib/lwp. Change the default settings to not use the LWP by removing /usr/lib/lwp from the LD_LIBRARY_PATH in the startserv script, but avoid doing this unless it is absolutely required.

For applications using many threads, /usr/lib/ is the best library to use. Of course, see using -Xconcurrentio for applications with many threads as this will not only turn on LWP based sync, the default in 1.4, but also turn off TLABS, or thread local allocation buffers, which can chew up the heap and cause premature garbage collection.

Further Information

For more information on Solaris threading issues, see Solaris and Java Threading.

For additional information on tuning the HotSpot JVM, see Further Information .

Linux Configuration

The following parameters must be added to the /etc/rc.d/rc.local file that gets executed during system start-up.

<-- begin
#max file count updated ~256 descriptors per 4Mb. 
Specify number of file descriptors based on the amount of system RAM.
echo "6553" > /proc/sys/fs/file-max
#inode-max 3-4 times the file-max
#file not present!!!!!
#echo"262144" > /proc/sys/fs/inode-max
#make more local ports available
echo 1024 25000 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_local_port_range
#increase the memory available with socket buffers
echo 2621143 > /proc/sys/net/core/rmem_max
echo 262143 > /proc/sys/net/core/rmem_default
#above configuration for 2.4.X kernels
echo 4096 131072 262143 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_rmem
echo 4096 13107262143 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_wmem
#disable "RFC2018 TCP Selective Acknowledgements," and 
"RFC1323 TCP timestamps" echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_sack
echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_timestamps
#double maximum amount of memory allocated to shm at runtime
echo "67108864" > /proc/sys/kernel/shmmax
#improve virtual memory VM subsystem of the Linux
echo "100 1200 128 512 15 5000 500 1884 2" > /proc/sys/vm/bdflush
#we also do a sysctl
sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.conf
-- end -->

Additionally, create an /etc/sysctl.conf file and append it with the following values:

<-- begin
 #Disables packet forwarding
net.ipv4.ip_forward = 0
#Enables source route verification
net.ipv4.conf.default.rp_filter = 1
#Disables the magic-sysrq key
kernel.sysrq = 0
vm.bdflush = 100 1200 128 512 15 5000 500 1884 2
net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range = 1024 65000
net.core.rmem_max= 262143
net.core.rmem_default = 262143
net.ipv4.tcp_rmem = 4096 131072 262143
net.ipv4.tcp_wmem = 4096 131072 262143
net.ipv4.tcp_sack = 0
net.ipv4.tcp_timestamps = 0

kernel.shmmax = 67108864

For further information on tuning Solaris systems see the Solaris Tunable Parameters Reference Manual.

Tuning for Solaris on x86

The following are some options to consider when tuning Solaris on x86 for Application Server and HADB:

Some of the values depend on the system resources available. After making any changes to /etc/system, reboot the machines.

Semaphores and Shared Memory

Add (or edit) the following lines in the /etc/system file:

set shmsys:shminfo_shmmax=0xffffffff
set shmsys:shminfo_shmseg=128
set semsys:seminfo_semmnu=1024
set semsys:seminfo_semmap=128
set semsys:seminfo_semmni=400
set semsys:seminfo_semmns=1024

These settings affect the number of semaphores and the shared memory. These are more relevant for the machine on which HADB server is running than for Application Server.

File Descriptors

Add (or edit) the following lines in the /etc/system file:

set rlim_fd_max=65536
set rlim_fd_cur=65536
set sq_max_size=0
set tcp:tcp_conn_hash_size=8192
set autoup=60
set pcisch:pci_stream_buf_enable=0

These settings affect the file descriptors.

IP Stack Settings

Add (or edit) the following lines in the /etc/system file:

set ip:tcp_squeue_wput=1
set ip:tcp_squeue_close=1
set ip:ip_squeue_bind=1
set ip:ip_squeue_worker_wait=10
set ip:ip_squeue_profile=0

These settings tune the IP stack.

To preserve the changes to the file between system reboots, place the following changes to the default TCP variables in a startup script that gets executed when the system reboots:

ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_time_wait_interval 60000
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_conn_req_max_q 16384
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_conn_req_max_q0 16384
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_ip_abort_interval 60000
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_keepalive_interval 7200000
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_rexmit_interval_initial 4000
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_rexmit_interval_min 3000
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_rexmit_interval_max 10000
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_smallest_anon_port 32768
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_slow_start_initial 2
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_xmit_hiwat 32768
ndd -set /dev/tcp tcp_recv_hiwat 32768

Tuning for Linux platforms

To tune for maximum performance on Linux, you need to make adjustments to the following:

File Descriptors

You may need to increase the number of file descriptors from the default. Having a higher number of file descriptors ensures that the server can open sockets under high load and not abort requests coming in from clients.

Start by checking system limits for file descriptors with this command:

cat /proc/sys/fs/file-max

The current limit shown is 8192. To increase it to 65535, use the following command (as root):

echo "65535" > /proc/sys/fs/file-max

To make this value to survive a system reboot, add it to /etc/sysctl.conf and specify the maximum number of open files permitted:

fs.file-max = 65535

Note: The parameter is not proc.sys.fs.file-max, as one might expect.

To list the available parameters that can be modified using sysctl:

sysctl -a

To load new values from the sysctl.conf file:

sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.conf

To check and modify limits per shell, use the following command:


The output will look something like this:

cputime         unlimited
filesize        unlimited
datasize        unlimited
stacksize       8192 kbytes
coredumpsize    0 kbytes
memoryuse       unlimited
descriptors     1024
memorylocked    unlimited
maxproc         8146
openfiles       1024

The openfiles and descriptors show a limit of 1024. To increase the limit to 65535 for all users, edit /etc/security/limits.conf as root, and modify or add the nofile setting (number of file) entries:

*         soft    nofile                     65535
*         hard    nofile                     65535

The character “*” is a wildcard that identifies all users. You could also specify a user ID instead.

Then edit /etc/pam.d/login and add the line:

session required /lib/security/

On Red Hat, you also need to edit /etc/pam.d/sshd and add the following line:

session required /lib/security/

On many systems, this procedure will be sufficient. Log in as a regular user and try it before doing the remaining steps. The remaining steps might not be required, depending on how pluggable authentication modules (PAM) and secure shell (SSH) are configured.

Virtual Memory

To change virtual memory settings, add the following to /etc/rc.local:

echo 100 1200 128 512 15 5000 500 1884 2 > /proc/sys/vm/bdflush

For more information, view the man pages for bdflush.

For HADB settings, refer to Chapter 6, Tuning for High-Availability.

Network Interface

To ensure that the network interface is operating in full duplex mode, add the following entry into /etc/rc.local:

mii-tool -F 100baseTx-FD eth0

where eth0 is the name of the network interface card (NIC).

Disk I/O Settings

ProcedureTo tune disk I/O performance for non SCSI disks

  1. Test the disk speed.

    Use this command:

    /sbin/hdparm -t /dev/hdX
  2. Enable direct memory access (DMA).

    Use this command:

    /sbin/hdparm -d1 /dev/hdX
  3. Check the speed again using the hdparm command.

    Given that DMA is not enabled by default, the transfer rate might have improved considerably. In order to do this at every reboot, add the /sbin/hdparm -d1 /dev/hdX line to /etc/conf.d/local.start, /etc/init.d/rc.local, or whatever the startup script is called.

    For information on SCSI disks, see: System Tuning for Linux Servers — SCSI.

TCP/IP Settings

ProcedureTo tune the TCP/IP settings

  1. Add the following entry to /etc/rc.local

    echo 30 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_fin_timeout
    echo 60000 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_keepalive_time
    echo 15000 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_keepalive_intvl
    echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_window_scaling
  2. Add the following to /etc/sysctl.conf

    # Disables packet forwarding
    net.ipv4.ip_forward = 0
    # Enables source route verification
    net.ipv4.conf.default.rp_filter = 1
    # Disables the magic-sysrq key
    kernel.sysrq = 0
    net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range = 1204 65000
    net.core.rmem_max = 262140
    net.core.rmem_default = 262140
    net.ipv4.tcp_rmem = 4096 131072 262140
    net.ipv4.tcp_wmem = 4096 131072 262140
    net.ipv4.tcp_sack = 0
    net.ipv4.tcp_timestamps = 0
    net.ipv4.tcp_window_scaling = 0
    net.ipv4.tcp_keepalive_time = 60
    net.ipv4.tcp_keepalive_intvl = 15
    net.ipv4.tcp_fin_timeout = 30
  3. Add the following as the last entry in /etc/rc.local

    sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.conf
  4. Reboot the system.

  5. Use this command to increase the size of the transmit buffer:

    tcp_recv_hiwat ndd /dev/tcp 8129 32768