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Could you please post the output from: uname -a
with 3 items replaced by Perl scalars for privacy reasons.
Looking at the code for top I cannot see where it would insert brackets around the process name. Top simply reports what it finds in the process record; so I can only assume Apache puts the brackets there.
Thanks for diving into the code. But I think your assumption above is less likely than my stated guess, and I think you even provide more evidence:
On a similar vein man top asserts that swapped process are marked as <swapped> but I don't know how it can assert this as this is OS dependant behavior.
So it could certainly be the case that the OS, instead of replacing the program name with the literal string "<swapped>", it puts angle brackets around the program name. This makes even more sense as a literal "<swapped>" would leave you wondering what the heck got swapped out on you.
The FreeBSD virtual memory manager usually operates very transparently. I wrote a perl program to hog all the memory then ran several instances. I saw none of the behavior exhibited in your listing. The swapping was transparent. The individual process lines showed normal running with full memory allocation. Only the swap statistics showing the the swap being used. When I ran out of swap the process was killed.
You were only hogging swap space. That causes much different problems than hogging real memory. Note that "the process was killed" has a body buried in it, as one can't blame a specific process for exhausting the swap space and so, on a good operating system, heuristics are involved (on a bad operating system, the process unlucky enough to be the first to try to grab more space after none is available gets killed -- early Ultrix comes to mind).
In order to hog real memory, you have to keep using the pages of memory that you've allocated. See (tye)Re: one-liner hogs; the one labeled "Memory" just tests allocating lots of virtual memory, that is, tests using a lot of swap space. The one labeled "Swap" will cause a lot of swapping (more accurately, "paging" though swapping out would likely eventually happen if you ran enough of them) because it tries to use lots of real memory. (So, yes, the labels are backward, depending on how you look at it.)
It seems that Apache does it's own vm. I can't confirm this.
I won't say that I know for sure that Apache does not, but I'd bet real money on it.
In reply to Re^2: 'A' web server takes another "time out" (virtual vs real)