In my last post, where I analyzed the problems caused by memory fragmentation on a Linux server, I said very little about memory fragmentation itself. I wanted to tell a story, so I had to dial down the technical stuff. But now that the story is told, I figured I should make a more technical post on the subject. I think it might be useful for many Linux DBAs or SAs, since there is not enough awareness of this problem within the Linux community. So if your system is experiencing cryptic performance and stability issues, keep reading, your problem may well be stemming from memory fragmentation.
Every upgrade is a bit of a lottery. But for a long running, well established system with a lot of legacy code, it can be more of a Russian roulette. You are unlikely to gain much — your system has been running fine, thanks to various tweaks the apps team applied here and there over the years. All these nice and shiny features that arrive with the upgrade — well, sure, there can be a few that you might like and have big plans for, but most of them are not going to be very useful, at least not out of the box. While there’s a good chance that some of them would backfire in a really, really bad way.