Q: My system is reporting "file table overflow" error messages. Is this important? Should I do anything about it?

A: By default, the v. 2.0.x/2.2.x[1] Linux kernel has a limit of 1024 open files. You can read this limit by running:

cat /proc/sys/kernel/file-max

The "file table overflow" messages indicate that your system has more than this number of files open.

You can increase the limit by writing to the file /proc/sys/kernel/file-max. For example:

echo 4096 > /proc/sys/kernel/file-max

You must be root to do this. You can add this line to /etc/rc.d/rc.local so it is set at boot time.

You might also run "ps aux" when you see this error and check that there is not some runaway process opening a lot of files by mistake.

[1] Higher limits apply to v. 2.4.x and above kernels.