OOM-killer Aircraft Analogy

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A very amusing analogy by Andries Brouwer about the Linux OOM-killer!

When available memory is exhausted, Linux invokes the Out Of Memory (OOM) killer, which has to make a decision on which process or processes should be terminated to free memory.

This is not a precise science! The heuristic algorithm cannot satisfy everyone.

Enter Andries’ take on this sufficient killer;

“An aircraft company discovered that it was cheaper to fly its planes with less fuel on board. The planes would be lighter and use less fuel and money was saved. On rare occasions however the amount of fuel was insufficient, and the plane would crash. This problem was solved by the engineers of the company by the development of a special OOF (out-of-fuel) mechanism. In emergency cases a passenger was selected and thrown out of the plane. (When necessary, the procedure was repeated.) A large body of theory was developed and many publications were devoted to the problem of properly selecting the victim to be ejected. Should the victim be chosen at random? Or should one choose the heaviest person? Or the oldest? Should passengers pay in order not to be ejected, so that the victim would be the poorest on board? And if for example the heaviest person was chosen, should there be a special exception in case that was the pilot? Should first class passengers be exempted? Now that the OOF mechanism existed, it would be activated every now and then, and eject passengers even when there was no fuel shortage. The engineers are still studying precisely how this malfunction is caused.”

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