overcommit_memory

Controls overcommit of system memory, possibly allowing processes to allocate (but not use) more memory than is actually available.

  • 0 - Heuristic overcommit handling. Obvious overcommits of address space are refused. Used for a typical system. It ensures a seriously wild allocation fails while allowing overcommit to reduce swap usage. root is allowed to allocate slighly more memory in this mode. This is the default.
  • 1 - Always overcommit. Appropriate for some scientific applications.
  • 2 - Don't overcommit. The total address space commit for the system is not permitted to exceed swap plus a configurable percentage (default is 50) of physical RAM. Depending on the percentage you use, in most situations this means a process will not be killed while attempting to use already-allocated memory but will receive errors on memory allocation as appropriate.