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Morgan Patou

Documentum – Increase the number of concurrent_sessions

In Documentum, there is a parameter named concurrent_sessions which basically defines how many sessions a Content Server can open simultaneously. This parameter is defined in the server.ini file (or server_<dm_server_config.object_name>.ini on a Remote Content Server) of each docbase and it has a default value of 100.

An empty Content Server with an IndexAgent and D2 installed (without user using it) will usually take around 10 sessions for the jobs, for the searches, aso… As soon as there are users in the environment, the number of concurrent sessions will quickly grow and therefore depending on how many users you have, you may (will) need to increase this limit. To be more precise, the concurrent_sessions controls the number of connections the server can handle concurrently. This number must take into account not only the number of users who are using the repository concurrently, but also the operations those users are executing. Some operations require a separate connection to complete. For example:

  • Issuing an IDfQuery.execute method with the readquery flag set to FALSE causes an internal connection request
  • Executing an apply method or an EXECUTE DQL statement starts another connection
  • When the agent exec executes a job, it generally requires two additional connections
  • Issuing a full-text query requires an additional connection
  • aso…


Do you already know how to increase the number of allowed concurrent sessions? I’m sure you do, it’s pretty easy:

  1. Calculate the appropriate number of concurrent sessions needed based on the information provided above
  2. Open¬†the file $DOCUMENTUM/dba/config/DOCBASE/server.ini and¬†replace “concurrent_sessions = 100” with the desired value (“concurrent_sessions = 500” for example)
  3. Restart the docbase DOCBASE using your custom script of the default Documentum scripts under $DOCUMENTUM/dba
  4. Ensure that the Database used can handle the new number of sessions properly and see if you need to increase the sessions/processes for that


To know how many sessions are currently used, it’s pretty simple, you can just execute the DQL “execute show_sessions” but be aware that all sessions will be listed and that’s not exactly what we want. Therefore you need to keep only the ones with a dormancy_status that is Active in the final count otherwise the value will be wrong. The number of active sessions is not only linked to a docbase but¬†also to¬†a Content Server (to be more precise, it is only linked to¬†a dm_server_config object). This means that if you have a High Availability environment, each Content Server (each dm_server_config object) will have its own number of active sessions. This also means that you need to take this into account when calculating how many concurrent sessions you need.

For example if you calculated that you will need a total of 500 concurrent sessions (again it’s not the number of concurrent users!) for a docbase, then:

  • If you have only one Content Server, you will need to set “concurrent_sessions = 500” on the server.ini file of this docbase.
  • If you have two Content Servers (two dm_server_config objects) for the docbase, then you can just set “concurrent_sessions = 275” on each server.ini files. Yes I know 2*275 isn’t really equal to 500 but that’s because each Content Server will need its internal sessions for the jobs, searches, aso… In addition to that, the Content Servers might need to talk to each other so these 25 additional sessions wouldn’t really¬†hurt.


Now is the above procedure working for any value of the concurrent_sessions? Well the answer to this question is actually the purpose of this blog: yes and no. From a logical point of view, there is no restriction to this value but from a technical point of view, there is… A few months ago at one of our customer, I was configuring a new Application which had a requirement of 2150 concurrent_sessions accross a High Availability environment composed of two Content Servers. Based on the information provided above, I started the configuration with 1100 concurrent sessions on each Content Server to match the requirement. But then when I tried to start the docbase again, I got the following error inside the docbase log file ($DOCUMENTUM/dba/log/DOCBASE.log):


Program error: Illegal parameter value for concurrent_sessions: 1100


Usage: ./documentum -docbase_name <docbase name> -init_file <filename> [-o<option>]

    -docbase_name : name of docbase
    -init_file    : name of server.ini file (including path) which
                    contains the server startup parameters

Usage: ./documentum -h


As you can see, the docbase refuses to start with a number of concurrent sessions set to 1100. What’s the reason behind that? There is an artificial limit set to 1020. This is actually mentioned in the documentation:
The maximum number of concurrent sessions is dependent on the operating system of the server host machine. The limit is:

  • 3275 for Windows systems
  • 1020 for Linux, Solaris, and AIX systems


So why is there a limit? Why 1020? This limit is linked to the FD_SETSIZE value. The documentation on FD_SETSIZE says the following:

An fd_set is a fixed size buffer. Executing FD_CLR() or FD_SET() with a value of fd that is negative or is equal to or larger than FD_SETSIZE will result in undefined behavior. Moreover, POSIX requires fd to be a valid file descriptor.


Thus FD_SETSIZE doesn’t explicitly limit the number of file descriptors that can be worked on with the system select() call. Inside every UNIX process, for its PID, Documentum maintain a corresponding list (of pointers) of file descriptors. In UNIX based systems, every Documentum session is created as a separate process. Since the number of sessions created directly depends on the number of file descriptors in an OS, each of these processes will be having a list of the file descriptors within their process which will be taking a good chunk of physical memory. With this technical reasoning the value 1020 has been set to be the max concurrent sessions available by default in Documentum.

So basically this limit of 1020 has been set arbitrary by EMC to stay within the default OS (kernel) value which is set to 1024 (can be checked with “ulimit -Sa” for example). An EMC internal task (CS-40186) has been created a few years ago to discuss this point and to discuss the possibility to increase this maximum number. Since the current default limit is set only in regards to the default OS value of 1024, if this value is increased to 4096 for example (which was our case since the beginning), then there is no real reason to be stuck at 1020 on Documentum side. At that time, the Engineering Team implemented a change in the binaries that allowed changing the limit. This was done and is still done by adding the environment variable DM_FD_SETSIZE.

Therefore to change the concurrent sessions above 1020 (1100 in this example) and in addition to the steps already mentioned before, you also need to do the following (depending on your OS, you might need to update the .bashrc or .profile files instead):

echo "export DM_FD_SETSIZE=1200" >> ~/.bash_profile
source ~/.bash_profile


With this environment variable DM_FD_SETSIZE now set to 1200, we can use 1100 concurrent sessions without issue. The value that will be used for the concurrent_sessions will be the one from the server.ini file. We just need to define a DM_FD_SETSIZE variable with a value equal or bigger than what we want. Also, I didn’t mention the ulimit but¬†of course, you¬†also need to set the limits of¬†your OS accordingly (this is done in the file /etc/limits.conf or inside any file under /etc/limits.d/).


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Morgan Patou
Morgan Patou

Senior Consultant & Technology Leader ECM