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Runaway processes ?


We have an emailserver that we had to reboot the hard way
a couple of times a week.Now its a couple of time a day (perhaps because
the number of users have been growing)
From the logs we can't see anything, it
just stops logging. From a process-logging-script (runs 'ps axu' every minute)
there is neither anything unusual except some old (several days)
root owned imap-processess that, as I understand it, shouldn't be there.
The load goes up very quickly (normally it is something between 1-4 with peaks
up to 10). From a nagios-server we can see that the load and the number of
processes are rising fast (up to 50, 70 and 100 and then there is nothing to do).
Twice I have been able to see what happens: the inetd generates root owned
processes and it doesnt stop before inetd is being killed. Then we have
to reboot the server to go on working.

I guess it is the webmail that is creating those imap-processes but
I'm not sure (could be imaps-clients of course).

Have you seen anything like that and what could be done?

dell power edge 600 Sc, intel celeron 1,7 GHz, 2 GB ECC memory
- woody (kernel compiled from debian package kernel-source-2.4.18)
- uw-imap-ssl (starting from inetd)
- webmail (the latest stable imp/horde)
- php-4.3.9
- sendmail (with milter and clam)
- bind, dhcp, mysql, radiusd-cistron (latest woody packages)
- imapproxy, just for the webmail (the latest)


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