Behrang Behrang - 1 year ago 76
Java Question

Why does usage of java.nio.files.File::list is causing this breadth-first file traversal program to crash with the "Too many open files" error?


s are lazy, hence the following statement does not load the entire children of the directory referenced by the
into memory; instead it loads them one by one, and after each invocation of
, the directory referenced by
is eligible for garbage collection, so its file descriptor should also become closed:

Files.list(path).forEach(p ->

Based on this assumption, I have implemented a breadth-first file traversal tool:

public class FileSystemTraverser {

public void traverse(String path) throws IOException {

public void traverse(Path root) throws IOException {
final Queue<String> absoluteFileNameQueue = new ArrayDeque<>();

int maxSize = 0;
int count = 0;

while (!absoluteFileNameQueue.isEmpty()) {
maxSize = max(maxSize, absoluteFileNameQueue.size());
count += 1;
Path path = Paths.get(absoluteFileNameQueue.poll());

if (Files.isDirectory(path)) {
Files.list(path).forEach(p ->

if (count % 10_000 == 0) {
System.out.println("maxSize = " + maxSize);
System.out.println("count = " + count);

System.out.println("maxSize = " + maxSize);
System.out.println("count = " + count);


And I use it in a fairly straightforward way:

public class App {

public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
FileSystemTraverser traverser = new FileSystemTraverser();


The disk mounted in
has about 3 million files.

For some reason, around the 140,000 mark, the program crashes with this stack trace:

Exception in thread "main" java.nio.file.FileSystemException: /media/Backup/Disk Images/Library/Containers/ Too many open files
at sun.nio.fs.UnixException.translateToIOException(
at sun.nio.fs.UnixException.rethrowAsIOException(
at sun.nio.fs.UnixException.rethrowAsIOException(
at sun.nio.fs.UnixFileSystemProvider.newDirectoryStream(
at java.nio.file.Files.newDirectoryStream(
at java.nio.file.Files.list(

It seems to me for some reason the file descriptors are not getting closed or the
objects are not garbage collected that causes the app to eventually crash.

System Details

  • OS: is Ubuntu 15.0.4

  • Kernel: 4.4.0-28-generic

  • ulimit: unlimited

  • File System: btrfs

  • Java runtime: tested with both of OpenJDK 1.8.0_91 and Oracle JDK 1.8.0_91

Any ideas what am I missing here and how can I fix this problem (without resorting to
(i.e. by staying within the ream of NIO2 and

Update 1:

I doubt that JVM is keeping the file descriptors open. I took this heap dump around the 120,000 files mark:

VisualVM Heap Dump

Update 2:

I installed a file descriptor probing plugin in VisualVM and indeed it revealed that the FDs are not getting disposed of (as correctly pointed out by cerebrotecnologico and k5):

VisualVM File Descriptor Tracing

k5_ k5_
Answer Source

Seems like the Stream returned from Files.list(Path) is not closed correctly. In addition you should not be using forEach on a stream you are not certain it is not parallel (hence the .sequential()).

    try (Stream<Path> stream = Files.list(path)) { -> p.toAbsolutePath().toString()).sequential().forEach(absoluteFileNameQueue::add);
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