Confluence process dies unexpectedly due to Linux OOM-Killer

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Problem

  • When Confluence is installed on a Linux host, the entire Confluence process suddenly terminates without warning. That is to say, the process ID (pid) is gone.

  • The browser shows a generic "cannot connect" or similar error, indicating that it is not able to reach the webpage
  • Nothing out of the ordinary appears in the Confluence application logs (<confluence_home>/logs/atlassian-confluence.log), since the application was terminated without properly shutting down
  • Similarly, Tomcat logs (<confluence_install>/logs/catalina.out) also do not show errors

Causes and Diagnosis

Confluence does not terminate its own pid unless a shutdown.sh or stop-confluence.sh is issued. If these commands are issued, there'd be some entries in the atlassian-confluence.log file indicating that Confluence is in the process of shutting down. On the other hand, if the Confluence pid is unexpectedly terminated, this would mean that there's an external factor.

For example:

  • A kill -9 command
  • Some sort of a script that issues a kill command
  • Some other mechanism outside of the application's control that is killing the process, e.g. the Linux OOM-Killer

This KB article focuses on the Linux OOM-Killer, which is a feature on some Linux installations that will sacrifice processes to free up memory if the operating system experiences memory exhaustion for its own operations. Please note that this is different from Confluence running out of memory. In this case, the OS itself is in danger of running out of memory, thus starts terminating processes to avoid it.

On the host machine, look in the /var/log/ directory for the syslog or messages, and locate the timestamps spanning the approximate time when the pid was terminated. If you see entries similar to the following, then you know the process died to the OOM-Killer:

Jan 15 04:20:30 confluence-a kernel: [370087.856050] Out of memory: Kill process 2753 (java) score 320 or sacrifice child
Jan 15 04:20:30 confluence-a kernel: [370087.857773] Killed process 2753 (java) total-vm:2256656kB, anon-rss:400988kB, file-rss:0kB

Resolution

In the case of the OOM-Killer, the possible resolutions would be to:

  • Increase the amount of memory available on the host machine itself

  • Decrease the amount of memory allocated to Confluence, or competing processes on the machine
  • Disable the OOM-Killer (not recommended)

(info) Additional info on how the OOM-Killer operates, please see: http://prefetch.net/blog/index.php/2009/09/30/how-the-linux-oom-killer-works/

Last modified on Nov 2, 2018

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