Updated: June 11th, 2015

The Problem

I am throwing up a quick post about a relatively cryptic error that Solr started throwing the other day here at Plaxo. After happily running for a few days, I suddenly started getting pages about failed Solr indexing.

Upon closer examination, I saw the following repeatedly in the log file:

catalina.2009-09-18.log:SEVERE: java.io.IOException: directory 'DATADIR/index'
exists and is a directory, but cannot be listed: list() returned null

I tried to see if sending an OPTIMIZE command would help but the server returned the same response.

Digging Deeper

The reason was these errors was quite simple – Solr was running into the system level limit on allowed number of open files (ulimit). This limit can be seen by running

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