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Linux packet drops



Hi,
  
  We are using Snort on Linux in the binary packet capture mode (capture
  and log in tcpdump format). We find packet drops even at 5 Mbps
  bandwidth which we feel is very low for the hardware we are using. We
  would be grateful if you can provide any suggestions on the issue.
  
  Hardware used:
  HP Proliant DL 140 G2. Dual processor, processor speed 2.8 GHz with
  512MB RAM and 72 GB SATA HDD, Gigabit network card.
  
  Operating system: Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES Version 3.
  
  Snort version: Snort 2.3.0
  
  The OS is a default installation. We are not running any software
  other than snort on the system.
  
  Observations:
  We find that the drop is related to HDD writes.
  
  If there are no hard disk writes, then there is no drop even at 80
  Mbps. We tested this by using a rule in snort which rarely matches, so
  that snort hardly logs any packets.
  
  We also found that the drop increases when the I/O is high,
  irrespective of whether it is being done by the same process (snort)
  or a totally unrelated one. We created a high I/O scenario by doing
  copy of a huge file (3GB) periodically while snort is running. Even
  this triggered packet drops.
  
  So, to summarize, we see packet drops in sniffing whenever there is
  disk I/O happening.
  We do not suspect the HDD of the machine, as we were able to simulate
  the problem in two other totally different systems also.
  
  Regards,
  Sonali



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