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Re: LDAP hangs requiring slapd stop and deleting __db.00* files

a) OpenLdap seems to get locked up every once in a while. i.e. While the process is running, it fails to authenticate.
Because process is still running, our monitoring system, Monit, does not recognize that as a failure.

I suggest you use a monitoring system that can make a real LDAP request instead of just looking for a process in the process table. Nagios is one good choice for that.

b) When the server load becomes high, 4 to 5 then authentication is irratic. It works sometimes and sometimes it does not.
When server load became high to the tune of 16/18, ldap failed authentication.

Maybe I am too conservative, but I believe your expectation that an application works OK at loads above 5 is unrealistic. If you find that your set of software works fine under *normal* loads you should look at getting hardware that is better suited to what you're doing - the current hardware seems underspecified.