Imagine an application server which has a pool of worker threads.
They will be kept alive until application server termination.
A deployed web application uses a static
ThreadLocal in one of its classes in order to store some thread-local data, an instance of another class (lets call it
SomeClass) of the web application. This is done within the worker thread (e.g. this action originates from a HTTP request).
By definition, a reference to a
ThreadLocal value is kept until the “owning” thread dies or if the ThreadLocal itself is no longer reachable.
If the web application fails to clear the reference to the
ThreadLocal on shutdown, bad things will happen:
Because the worker thread will usually never die and the reference to the
ThreadLocal is static, the
ThreadLocal value still references the instance of
SomeClass, a web application’s class – even if the web application has been stopped!
As a consequence, the web application’s classloader cannot be garbage collected, which means thatall classes (and all static data) of the web application remain loaded (this affects the PermGen memory pool as well as the heap).
Every redeployment iteration of the web application will increase permgen (and heap) usage.
=> This is the permgen leak