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Re: Snort 2.9, RHEL 5 and afpacket DAQ [~Solved?]
From: Michael Altizer <maltizer () sourcefire com>
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2010 16:16:26 -0400

 On 10/20/2010 03:14 PM, Michael Altizer wrote:
On 10/20/2010 02:59 PM, Rich Graves wrote:
On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 1:12 PM, Jeff Kell wrote:

    I had rebuilt snort 2.8.6 with libpcap 1.1.1 and  had some worse
    performance than before, but then there was a discussion on one
    of the snort lists regarding sids 4676 and 4677 in the
    oracle-rules being a pcre "hog".

    Disabling those two sids dropped my average CPU over half...

Wow. Mine dropped over 2/3.

sid 4676 is limited to POSTs, so if you have a requirement to detect ancient oracle attacks, keep that one and drop just 4677.

The problem of the maximum 49MB buffer on RHEL5 64-bit remains (does not affect Ubuntu 64-bit or RHEL5 32-bit; I'd expect it to effect CentOS and other rebuilds as well), but since I'm no longer regularly filling the buffer, my 2.9.0 installation is now stable enough that I can start looking at the new rule options, and hope the buffer issue gets addressed in 2.9.1.

I've replicated the issue on a 64-bit CentOS 5.5 VM. It's going to take some investigation from the kernel side of af_packet to figure out the issue since it appears to be limited to 64-bit CentOS/RHEL as you indicated. Unfortunately, they really don't make building a custom kernel with their source easy, but I'm getting there...

The problem is that we're running into the old kmalloc limit of 128k on the 2.6.18 kernel supplied with RHEL5/CentOS5. The difference between 49mb and 50mb is the difference between 16218 blocks and 16549 blocks, which the kernel attempts to kmalloc a pointer array for to keep track of the allocated pages. On a 64-bit system:
16218 * sizeof(char *) = 129744 (< 128k)
16549 * sizeof(char *) = 132392 (> 128k)

The Linux kernel started defaulting to supporting kmallocs of significantly larger sizes (2mb) in 2.6.22. See the AFPacket section of the DAQ README if you're curious as to the math involved with determining the number of blocks (pages) requested.

There are a few avenues that can be explored:
1. Change the AFPacket DAQ module to attempt to use initially use multi-page blocks and scale back the block size on subsequent allocation failures. 2. Upgrade your kernel to something a bit more recent (2.6.22 came out almost 3 and a half years ago). 3. Change the af_packet.c on your RHEL kernel to use vmalloc instead of kmalloc for the page vector and recompile, but that will have an unknown impact on performance.

I'll start looking into option 1 (probably the best option overall) when I get some time.

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