Pulp user Richard Gray wrote to our email list to ask about high memory use during copy operations. He wrote:

I have a local RPM repository that syncs from an internet mirror of the CentOS 7.3 updates repository. When I try to create a local copy of this mirror, the celery processes balloon, using all available memory until the job eventually fails

He included this helpful example:

$ pulp-admin rpm repo copy all --from-repo-id centos-7-updates-x86_64-live --to-repo-id centos-7-updates-x86_64-snapshots-20170216a
This command may be exited via ctrl+c without affecting the request.

An internal error occurred on the Pulp server:

RequestException: GET request on
/pulp/api/v2/tasks/776894cc-b524-4f2f-bd30-c8c4d8237c31/ failed with 500 -
[Errno 12] Cannot allocate memory


Thankfully this behavior can be explained, and there is even a work-around available. Both are hinted at in the REST API documentation.

The full explanation is rather lame, but honest. When you do a copy, you can give pulp a Criteria object, which lets you match specific units to copy based on filters, limit/skip, etc. Pulp evaluates that Criteria into a result set, and hands that to the plugin (yum_importer in Richard’s case) to do the actual work. That’s the API between the core of Pulp and a plugin, so it’s difficult to change.

One of the things you can specify in a Criteria is a list of fields to load. By default, it selects all of them. See where this is going? If you just tell Pulp to copy all RPMs from repo A to B, it will load all of the data it has on each RPM document into memory at the same time.


The work-around is to pass a list of fields with your copy request to the REST API. In most cases, passing just the list of unit key fields will suffice.

pulp-admin does this for you, but only if you are copying a specific type of content. If you use the rpm repo copy all command as Richard did, the request will match multiple types of content (RPM, DRPM, Errata, etc.). pulp-admin can no longer pass a set of fields that will be appropriate for all matched types.

We can see this in action by running a fake copy command with pulp-admin. I am making up two repository names, because we just want to see the body of the request sent to Pulp’s REST API.

$ pulp-admin -vv rpm repo copy rpm -f foo -t bar
2017-02-17 14:21:30,384 - INFO - POST request to /pulp/api/v2/repositories/bar/actions/associate/ with parameters {"source_repo_id": "foo", "override_config": {}, "criteria": {"fields": {"unit": ["name", "epoch", "version", "release", "arch", "checksum", "checksumtype", "downloaded", "signing_key", "filename"]}, "type_ids": ["rpm"], "filters": {"unit": {}}}}

You can see the list of fields that pulp-admin specified.


Copy one unit type at a time. Avoid pulp-admin rpm repo copy all.

If using pulp-admin to copy a single type, it will ensure the field list is appropriately limited.

If using the REST API, specify a list of fields starting with the unit key fields for the content type you are copying. Add additional fields as needed.