What is the the maximum value and default value for fs.nr_open in Red Hat Enterprise Linux?

Solution Verified - Updated -

Environment

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9

Issue

  • What is the default value of fs.nr_open?
  • What is the maximum value of fs.nr_open?

Resolution

  • The default value fs.nr_open is 1024*1024 = 1048576 defined in kernel code. Below is the snippet from source code.
fs/file.c

  27 unsigned int sysctl_nr_open __read_mostly = 1024*1024;
  • The maximum value of fs.nr_open is limited to sysctl_nr_open_max in kernel, which is 2147483584 on x86_64.

Note: The value of "Max open files"(ulimit -n) is limited to fs.nr_open value.

  • In RHEL9, the default value of fs.nr_open is way larger than what is defined by kernel.
# cat /proc/sys/fs/nr_open 
1073741816

Root Cause

  • The max value gets calculated from following piece of code and assigned to sysctl_nr_open_max variable.
fs/file.c

  27 unsigned int sysctl_nr_open __read_mostly = 1024*1024;
  28 unsigned int sysctl_nr_open_min = BITS_PER_LONG;
  29 /* our min() is unusable in constant expressions ;-/ */
  30 #define __const_min(x, y) ((x) < (y) ? (x) : (y))
  31 unsigned int sysctl_nr_open_max =
  32         __const_min(INT_MAX, ~(size_t)0/sizeof(void *)) & -BITS_PER_LONG;
  • Lets evaluate this,
include/vdso/limits.h
  8 #define INT_MAX         ((int)(~0U >> 1))

crash> p ((int)(~0U >> 1))
$39 = 2147483647

crash> p ~(size_t)0/sizeof(void *)
$40 = 2305843009213693951

include/asm-generic/bitsperlong.h

  8 #ifdef CONFIG_64BIT
  9 #define BITS_PER_LONG 64   <=----
 10 #else
 11 #define BITS_PER_LONG 32
 12 #endif /* CONFIG_64BIT */

__const_min(2147483647,2305843009213693951) & -64

crash> p 2147483647&-64
$41 = 2147483584    [max value]

Diagnostic Steps

  • Below is demonstration on how ulimit depends on nr_open value and testing max value of nr_open.
# ulimit -n 2147483584
-bash: ulimit: open files: cannot modify limit: Operation not permitted

# sysctl fs.nr_open
fs.nr_open = 1048576

# sysctl -w fs.nr_open=2147483584
fs.nr_open = 2147483584

# ulimit -n 2147483584

# ulimit -n
2147483584

# sysctl -w fs.nr_open=2147483585
sysctl: setting key "fs.nr_open": Invalid argument
fs.nr_open = 2147483585
  • On RHEL 9 if system is booted with systemd.log_level=debug we can see that systemd modifies fs.nr_open value.
# journalctl -b|grep nr_open
Mar 10 01:40:34 localhost systemd[1]: Setting 'fs/nr_open' to '2147483640'.
Mar 10 01:40:34 localhost systemd[1]: Couldn't write fs.nr_open as 2147483640, halving it.
Mar 10 01:40:34 localhost systemd[1]: Setting 'fs/nr_open' to '1073741816'.
Mar 10 01:40:34 localhost systemd[1]: Successfully bumped fs.nr_open to 1073741816
Mar 10 01:40:36 localhost systemd[1]: Setting 'fs/nr_open' to '2147483640'.
Mar 10 01:40:36 localhost systemd[1]: Couldn't write fs.nr_open as 2147483640, halving it.

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